Review: Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle
Written by Brian Kamm
Published at 2010-05-18 02:53:17
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4-player Adventure for the PS3 Digital.
Developed by Relentless Software. Published by Relentless Software.
Released 2010-03-25. Rated E10+.
Supports PlayStation Move.

Relentless Software is perhaps best known for its long running quiz show series, Buzz on PS3 and PS2. Still out to challenge your noodle, they're back this time with a new IP and the episodic puzzle/murder mystery adventure entitled Blue Toad Murder Files. Having finally landed on the North American side of the pond, six episodes comprise the setting and intrigues in The Mysteries of Little Riddle. This subtitle suggests the establishment of an ongoing franchise, but is this initial stop in Little Riddle worthwhile?

Blue Toad Murder Files is a 6 episode murder mystery, linked together by a series of puzzles. You'll encounter 12 brain teasers in each episode, ranging from math to logic to word puzzles. Now and again you will be tested on the facts and clues you've come across after meeting and interviewing a string of witnesses or suspects.

And by interviewing, I don't mean choosing from a selection of questions for your character to grill the latest subject. Interviews generally consist of a bit of dialogue from the subject, while your particular character nods along. Usually a puzzle loosely related to that episodes crime is presented, and then on to the next location and potential suspect. Initially I found this tangential approach to puzzle and plot a little maddening-then I got the joke and found this left field design rather appealing. So even when I had solved my second puzzle for the duck obsessed Colonel in Episode 3, I had finally got used to Blue Toad Murder Files conventions. Puzzle variety is at times inconsistent, and you may note the over reliance on basic math problems, or "follow the path" visual puzzles. This becomes very evident by the time you get to the back half of the game.

Outside of occasional opportunities to choose your next destination, there is very little player choice involved. A choice of four different characters is available to you and up to three friends, but aside from some visual differences and some witty character specific quips from the narrator, there is no impact on your experience of the game.

At the end of each episode you have the opportunity to identify your pick for the culprit of that installments dirty deed. Most players will find the difficulty of the puzzles from easy to moderate, with an emphasis on the former. A handful of puzzles rely on a particular "trick" to figure out in order to come up with the solution. In most instances there is only one solution, which significantly reduces subsequent replay value. Once you've figured out the puzzles, there may be little reason to return outside of nabbing any trophies you missed the first time thru. This makes for relatively short episodes, which take an average of 1 to 2 hours to complete; or about 10 hours of total play through time. For some players, a cost of $5-$7.50 per episode (depending on whether you opt for bundle or a la carte pricing) may raise concerns about value for the money.

All of this may sound like a decisive recommendation to detour around Little Riddle and Blue Toad Murder Files, and that may be the case for some. That being said, this title conveys an overall sense of polish even when the specific parts fall short in some areas. Little Riddle is rich in visual detail from overhead, if a little simplistic when down on the ground interacting with the characters. Visually the characters are adequate in design, but are made far more interesting by the single voice actor who's managed to bring a unique quirk to each of his characters. Small touches like the puzzle transition screens where characters literally "pop up" as though they were made of rubber, demonstrates the care that was put into this product.

Much of the humour is verbal and while I was expecting a more zany style of Brit humour, there are some lines that will make you snicker. You probably won't find yourself laughing hysterically, although the occasional adult innuendo might pull you out of the feeling that you're playing a casual family game.

This leads into the most underplayed aspect of Blue Toad Murder Files that plays to the games content-multiplayer. BTMF may not be as fun a single player game as it is a multiplayer game for some cross generational casual fun. The games interface seems to support this as well. The periodic quizzes that check to make sure you're paying attention are fairly easy in the single player format, and the bragging rights encouraged if you get them all right fall flat when playing solo. With four players gathered around- trash talking or helping each other out- these quizzes would take on a greater challenge. Medals are also awarded depending on how fast you complete puzzles, providing an impetus to compete against your Grandpa Peter, Aunt Babs and Cousin Twyla.

Blue Toad Murder Files is an enjoyable experience while it lasts. Provided you aren't the type to skip immediately to the Really, Really Hard section of your Logic Puzzles magazine, the puzzles can provide a modest challenge. The game is clearly designed as a bit of casual fun best played with others, so anti-social types or hardcore gaming snobs may want to steer clear, more so if you're looking for some replayability with your murder.


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