Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle Episodes 3-6

Review

posted 6/15/2010 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
Welcome back to Little Riddle, the small British town with a crazy high murder rate.  You're a member of the elite Blue Toad Agency, who has been sent to Little Riddle to solve a series of heinous crimes.  Do you have what it takes to solve the puzzles and finally point your finger at the real serial killer?  Find out as we journey in to the final three episodes of Blue Toad Murder Files for the PlayStation 3.

In case you missed my first review, Blue Toad Murder Files is a series of six individual episodes that link together to tell the story of small town being terrorized by a serial killer.  Each episode costs $7.49, with the full three-pack cutting you a break at $14.99.  In these episodes you will finally come face to face with the real killer and finally bring him (or her) to justice.  It's the exciting conclusion to a game that has a lot of great ideas.

The game starts off right where you left off, with a dead librarian, a serial killer on the prowl and a whole town of colorful characters with the motive to kill.  It's up to you, as the local Blue Toad Agent, to solve the crime and bring peace to this otherwise normal community.  This will involve you solving twelve different puzzles per episode, not to mention three pop-quizzes and the ultimate job of pointing the finger at the guilty party.  Do you have what it takes?  I certainly hope so, because this game isn't going to play itself. 


We start with episode four, Death From Above, where we are shocked to learn that the poor old Colonel has been, ahem, MURDERED!!  Worst of all, the crime happened right in front of our Blue Toad investigator.  And just like before, this dirty criminal (who chose to drop a large brick on the top of the Colonel's head) gets away without being seen.  But what's this?  Could the Colonel have a few secrets?  Might he not have been a highly decorated member of the military after all?  Answers will be revealed as you puzzle your way through Death From Above.

Next up is The Riddle of the Past, which finds our hero locked in jail and unable to stop the town's nefarious serial killer before he strikes again.  Unlike the other episodes, The Riddle of the Past does not feature a crazy crime for you to solve.  Instead it lets you put the pieces together and set up the exciting sixth (and final) episode of Blue Toad Murder Files.


By the time we get to the sixth episode, The Flight of the Felonious Fugitive, we already know who the murderer is.  But don't worry, there are still people to interview and puzzles to solve.  It turns out that the guilty party didn't do it alone; they had the help from one of the local shop owners.  Can you figure out who it is?  Of course you can, because this final episode makes it all but impossible not to choose the sinister shop owner.  And with that, we're done with Little Riddle and ready to go back to the big city where we don't have to worry about serial killers.

What these three episodes are able to do is bring closure to the Blue Toad Murder Files.  While I won't say that the season finale is as strong as Lost's final episode, it does manage to offer a resolution that I can live with.  We learn what the killer's motivation was, where they have been hiding out and what they were going to do when they got away with it.  But thankfully you were in town to thwart the evil plans.  It may not be the crime of the century, but you should feel good that you were able to bring the criminals to justice.  Now get the heck out of this town before you start talking like the annoying people of Little Riddle.

If you played the first three episodes, then you'll know what kinds of puzzles await you.  Most of the puzzles involve you helping the various people around town do their jobs.  For example, early on you are asked to chart out where everybody was sitting at the funeral.  In another puzzle you are asked to count the church's coffers.  Some puzzles will have you descrambling words and letters, while other puzzles will be math based.  Sometimes you'll interview a witness who will walk you through their day with sounds, giving you a chance to chart out where they went and how they got there.  For the most part these puzzles are easy to understand and fun to play, even if a lot of them don't have much to do with the crime at hand.

Blue Toad Murder Files owes a lot to Level 5's wonderful Professor Layton series on the Nintendo DS. These games are full of great characters, ingenious puzzles and an art style that I fell in love with the moment I saw it. Unfortunately, Blue Toad feels more like a speedy imitation than a full homage. Not only were there are lot more puzzles to solve in the Professor Layton games, but they were also a lot cleverer in their implementation. Sure you were asked to do things that didn't have much to do with the story, but they never felt as outlandish as what you're made to do in this game.


The game's presentation is fine, though it pales in comparison to Professor Layton or the numerous episodic games that Telltale Games has put out. The voice acting is alright, but I felt the subconscious urge to mute the narrator every time he emphasized the word "MURDER!" There's a lot of good-natured comedy, though it feels a little too safe for this game to appeal to an older audience.

Unsurprisingly, Blue Toad Murder Files: Episodes 4 - 6 suffer from the same problems that brought down the first game.  The game's linear story means that there's no reason to play through an episode more than once.  My biggest complaint is that each puzzle only has one answer, instead of random answers that would have increased the replay of this series.  As it is, once you know the answer the challenge is gone, the rest of the game is just you watching well-produced animations and little more.


If you managed to make it through the first three episodes, then chances are you genuinely do want to know how this mystery ends.  The good news is that the game offers the same cast of colorful characters and yet more brain-taxing puzzles to solve.  Unfortunately, the game's lack of ambitious keeps this from being as good as the games it's imitating.  $15 may be a bit steep for three adventures that you'll only want to play through once, so I would say your money is better spent on other episodic titles (such as Telltale's wonderful Sam & Max seasons).  Still, there's a lot to like in Blue Toad Murder Files and I can see younger crime fighters having a blast with this game.  I enjoyed my time in Little Riddle, but I'm not sad to say that this case is officially closed.




* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

C+
If you're a fan of the first three episodes, then you owe it to yourself to see how this game ends. Blue Toad Murder Files has a strong cast of characters, a great presentation and some good natured humor. Unfortunately, it's marred by the limited replay, nonsensical puzzles and a complete lack of ambitious. It's also way too expensive. But if you can get past the negatives, Blue Toad is a great diversion for young Sherlock Holmes wannabes!