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Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle (PlayStation 3) artwork

Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle (PlayStation 3) review


"If you've heard of Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle, it was probably mentioned in the same breath as the Professor Layton series, and for good reason. Blue Toad Murder Files takes obvious inspiration from the Professor Layton games. As one of four detectives from the Blue Toad Agency, you arrive in the town of Little Riddle at the beginning of the first episode. Almost immediately, you witness the murder of the town's mayor (the game is called Blue Toad Murder Files, after all). From there, you're tasked with wandering from place to place, questioning people and solving random puzzles until they eventually lead you to the killer."



If you've heard of Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle, it was probably mentioned in the same breath as the Professor Layton series, and for good reason. Blue Toad Murder Files takes obvious inspiration from the Professor Layton games. As one of four detectives from the Blue Toad Agency, you arrive in the town of Little Riddle at the beginning of the first episode. Almost immediately, you witness the murder of the town's mayor (the game is called Blue Toad Murder Files, after all). From there, you're tasked with wandering from place to place, questioning people and solving random puzzles until they eventually lead you to the killer.

Each episode (there are six, but only three are available in North America at the time of this review) consists of 12 puzzles and three quizzes designed to test whether you've been paying attention to the smaller details of the case. The puzzles are mostly what you would expect to find in a Professor Layton game. Some have almost been lifted directly (the sandbag puzzle in episode 2 is essentially one of the pancake puzzles from Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, for instance) and some are pretty unique (like the one that finds you listening to an old lady ramble on and on, then deciding which details will help you identify her lost luggage and which are just random bits of useless information about completely unrelated things). With a few exceptions, the puzzles are challenging without being unfair and satisfying to solve as a result.

The game's biggest strength is its sense of humour. Little Riddle is populated with a wide assortment of characters (all voiced by one man, regardless of age, sex, or species) with their own personalities, and many of these characters are absolutely hilarious. My personal favourites include the slow-speaking (and vaguely Amish?) Moses the church gardener, as well as the owner of the local hotel, who seems like an angrier version of John Cleese's character from Fawlty Towers. The (unskippable) cutscenes are well-written and well acted, and really bring the town to life.

Unfortunately, the game as a whole doesn't quite reach the goals that it seems to have set for itself. Curiously, many points that seem to indicate that the game was designed specifically as a multi-player experience. However, the more people you have playing with you, the less you actually play. Puzzles are divided up evenly among players, who take turns solving them. There's a timer that encourages you to solve puzzles as quickly as you can, but some can take forever if you're trying them for the first time. On top of that, the project only works as a multi-player game if you don't play it at all in advance. The puzzles are exactly the same each time you play through the game, with the exact same answers. If you play through a chapter once, you put yourself at an unfair advantage over your friends who presumably haven't played it at all. Unfortunately, this also means there's almost no replay value. There's nothing satisfying or fun about solving a puzzle when you already know the answer.

The lack of replay value and overall shortness of each episode (each one can be finished in about 1 to 2 hours, depending on how long you spend mulling over each puzzle) call the game's value into question. Each episode costs $7.50. That's a lot considering the limited amount of time you're likely to spend playing it, though the $15 bundles of three episodes each are a bit easier to swallow. There are several things that the developers could have done to increase the value for the money, such as offering alternate versions of each puzzle for different difficulty levels, but those opportunities have been missed.

Overall, Blue Toad Murder Files is an enjoyable take on the Professor Layton formula but a difficult one to recommend given the limited amount of content in each episode. If you do decide to give it a try, you'll probably enjoy yourself. Just don't buy the episodes individually.

Rating: 7/10

Roto13's avatar
Freelance review by Rhody Tobin (April 14, 2010)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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