Little Riddle is a quaint British village full of eccentric folk, but everyday life in the village has been disrupted by a murder, and one that only a detective of the Blue Toad Agency can properly solve. Taking the role as the detective for the agency will bring about many thought provoking puzzles and intense mind-benders that will puzzle even the brightest detectives throughout six episodes, all to solve the case of whodunnit?
Arriving by train into Little Riddle, detectives will find a quaint village with cottages perfectly placed along the cobblestoned streets of a wonderful English landscape. The male narrator has a magnificent British accent and sets the mood of the game perfectly as he narrates the events at hand. Upon arrival the Station Master gives a warm greeting to Little Riddle and immediately recognises that he is in the presence of a great detective from the Blue Toad Agency, and happily leads the way to the Mayor of the village. Meeting Little Riddle's Mayor is a pleasant experience as he is quite the eccentric chap, but shortly after the meeting he's shot dead in mid-sentence, dropping a diary that shows the now deceased Mayor had a recent argument with four of the villagers, and it’s time to do some real detective work – Blue Toad style.
The Mayor's diary gives insight to the four villagers who need to be met and properly questioned to discern if they are, in fact, the murderer. Gameplay is strictly point-and-click affair and selecting a locale is as easy as pointing the cursor over the desired locale and pressing the Move button or X. Meeting with the four villagers is something that’s not to be easily forgotten as each villager has their own unique personality, and top-notch voice acting brings the characters to life wonderfully. Each suspect has a unique problem at hand, a puzzle only a Blue Toad Detective could solve, and upon completion a clue may be gained to help solve the mystery of who murdered the Mayor. Puzzles have time limits and can range from solving scrambled words to converting currency to correctly aligning patchwork mazes, and performance is ranked upon completion.
Achieving a gold medal requires completing the puzzle under the target time on the first attempt. This process repeats itself as every locale selected finds an interaction with one of Little Riddle's villagers and a puzzle to solve, and seeing as this process could become tedious quickly; the narrator and villagers do a great job of keeping interest and moving the story forward. Keeping a watchful eye to every detail is imperative as the narrator himself will question the detective to see how well he/she has been paying attention throughout each episode, and his questions can be extremely deceptive. Once all the villagers have been questioned, puzzles solved and clues obtained, it’s time to do what detectives do best and figure out Whodunnit? The final local is Little Riddle's very own police chief and it’s time to make the final choice to prosecute the murderer and put this mystery to rest. Once the murderer has been caught... well, we're not going to ruin the story, but the mystery doesn’t end here as there are still clues to uncover and murder will once again fill the cobblestoned streets of Little Riddle.
Graphically Blue Toad Murder Files looks fantastic, with vibrant colours constantly filling the screen giving Little Riddle an almost cartoon look that’s not unlike the visuals in a Pixar film. Character models and animations are extremely fluid and facial animations show their emotions perfectly alongside the great voice acting. The eccentricities of the characters make detective work extremely decisive, as at times a character might seem innocent as they blabber on about random things, but is it actually a cover-up to hide their guilt, or is this just the character's personality? The narrator is also up there with the best narrators we have witnessed in any game, and will keep the laughs coming throughout the game's entirety. He can be very harsh at times while using his witty remarks to let you know how you fell short.
PlayStation Move support was recently added into Blue Toad Murder Files, and once again Move proves to be triumphant over the DualShock controller. The basic point-and-click is a given for Move as moving the onscreen cursor around the screen and selecting icons with the Move is easy and completely natural. Where Move really triumphs here is within the puzzles: racing the clock along with manoeuvring puzzle pieces means that the scrolling action allowed by the DualShock controller can really slow you down and frustrate at times. However, the Move controller with its cursor allows for quicker point and click manoeuvring making those gold ribbons and trophies much easier to obtain. Some puzzles have many different areas that can be selected and sometimes at angles, which creates an even larger problem as only up and down inputs are allowed, and fumbling with the DualShock controls at times can create time constraint issues that will keep some from obtaining gold medals. Utilising the cursor with Move eliminates the control issues of the DualShock and makes solving the puzzles more intuitive and fun.
Blue Toad Murder Files does have its faults, and sadly a few of them are major. The cast of characters and amazing narration is extremely captivating and pulls gamers into the story, but then at times the sudden stop to solve another puzzle ruins the pacing. Gameplay is little more than puzzle solving, and the puzzles range from simple to infuriatingly difficult, and even some of the sharpest puzzle solvers will be finding themselves selecting the “Give Up” button a few times, especially in the later episodes. This brings another glaring flaw: regardless if the puzzle is solved correctly or not, the story continues on as if the puzzle was always answered correctly, and this is even true for selecting the culprit at the end of each episode. Outside of the narrator's scolding for wrong, the only incentive to answer the puzzles correctly is for either Trophies, or just for pride.
There's a multiplayer mode included for up to four players but it isn’t anything to speak of either, as players take turns solving puzzles as they come along instead of both attempting to solve each puzzle. We found playing single player with multiple players all pitching in to solve the puzzles to be the preferred multiplayer experience here. Lastly, the puzzles stay the exact same when replayed, which severely diminishes the games replay value.
Blue Toad Murder Files is a charming game full of deceptive puzzles to solve and a great cast of characters to interact with. Even with its faults, the eccentric characters and hilarious narrator prevail and make the trip through the English village of Little Riddle an enjoyable experience. Negative consequences for incorrectly answered puzzles and branching story paths, which have become a staple of current games of today, could have possibly taken Blue Toad Murder files into one of the top-tier titles on PlayStation Network.
Hints at a sequel find us hoping that Relentless Software fix the present issues and build on the fantastic groundwork they have created with Little Riddle, but as it stands it's well worth taking a trip through this eccentric village.