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.
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!
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