Blue Toad Murder Files: A Touch of Mystery Review
Originally released as a game for the PS3 way back in 2009, the Blue Toad Murder Files has now been ported over to iOS. I actually found it kind of surprising that the game was originally made for that console, give how the look and feel of it seem to be suited perfectly to the casual nature of the App Store.
Much like an episode of Masterpiece Mystery, this is a gentle game, with tid bits of thrills and chills sprinkled here and there. Infused with wit and charm, this was an enjoyable little title that ties together several mini-games and weaves them into an enjoyable story.
The Blue Toad Murder Files is divided into six separate mysteries, with three available to play from the get go -- Little Riddle's Deadly Dilemma, The Mystery of Riddle Manor and The Mystery of the Concealing Flame. You can choose to play them in any order that you wish, but I would recommend playing them in sequential order if you want a clean progression of the story. If you just want to mess around with some of the puzzles, then dive right in anywhere. (But don't do that. That just wouldn't be proper.)
The action takes place in the town of Little Riddle and you play as one of four different detectives who are in search for some time off. But instead of kicking back with a cup of Earl Grey and a couple of scones, you have to crack open those murder files once more. Turns out that the town of Little Riddle has become inundated with mortal mishaps. Through a series of puzzles and games, you will have to solve several mysteries and figure out who the killer is.
While the puzzles are not Mensa-level brain busters, they are well-designed and not too repetitive. This was enough to hold my attention as I tried solving them as efficiently as possible. There is a medal system in place that will reward you based on how long it takes you to solve the various teasers.
There are also memory games that elicit more than a few chuckles. I enjoyed how the game's narrator has no problem with teasing you as you play. Everything is controlled with taps and swipes, which show no signs of buggyness having been ported over from the PS3 and PC versions of the game. The style of the narration reminded me of the way the last Leisure Suit Larry game was presented, with the fourth wall often being poked through.
Speaking of the narrator, pretty much all of the voice acting in this title is top notch. And it's all very British. Being a fan of shows like Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, I was ready to eat this stuff up. But I'm not sure how all this specific humor will play with a wider audience. Perhaps it was the success of Downton Abbey that inspired this port? Who knows.
As you make your way through the game's three available episodes, there will be a larger conspiracy that starts to unfold. It's impressive, considering that developer Relentless Software's previous efforts were mostly non-narrative quiz games. You've probably seen them before in a Game Stop, they're the ones with that host that looks like a Terrance and Phillip character.
Fair warning, there's not a lot of mystery solving here. If you're coming in to this looking for something along the lines of LA Noir, you will likely be disappointed by how casual things are in Blue Toad. But if all you're looking to do is solve simple puzzles and listen to funny dialogue, this is the game for you. I rather liked it.