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Review: Blue Toad Murder Files Episode 4


This is a re-print of an article originally posted on another site, included here so that the blog is a complete repository of my written work. The article is reproduced without pagination, formatting, images or editorial changes made on the original site prior to original publication.

The residents of Little Riddle are back for three more instalments, completing the raft of six episodes in this mildly Cluedo-like series of PSN titles.

If you haven’t been following along, the rules are simple: 1-4 players take turns solving various numerical, logic and memory puzzles which very loosely relate to the story played out by cut scenes in between. Or more specifically, the puzzles come between the cut scenes as they are long and unskippable in story mode.

Each episode’s story is based on a separate murder in the town of Little Riddle. The locations and residents remain the same across episodes and that theme remains unchanged in episode 4 – which is not necessarily a bad thing. The cut scenes are fairly simple 3D storytelling – they do their job without fanfare. The narration is something you’ll either love or hate. The characters speak with exaggerated accents and language style.

That is basically all there is to it. Each episode has about a dozen puzzles, and at the end you have to try and figure out who committed the murder – which is worth some nice virtual silverware. Once you’ve completed the story, you can play the puzzles separately again without having to go through the cut scenes, but if you failed to collect all the trophies on your first playthrough, you’ll be forced to sit through story mode again to collect them.

The tasks you will encounter are classical problem-solving puzzles: find the shortest route; arrange objects in a certain pattern; deduce information from cryptic written clues. The puzzles are entirely discrete from the cut scenes – you simply watch, then play, and repeat. The game is completely linear except for one or two ultimately insignificant choices, so the problems and locations essentially come in the same order every time.

Episode 4 has the same flaws as the previous releases: the puzzles themselves are always the same, with the same solutions, and so is the murderer. Therefore, there is absolutely no replay value except for trophy collecting. In its favour, I will say that I played through episode 1 with the same friend as episode 4, and we both enjoyed the new one more as a result of the new puzzles being much more demanding. We were left scratching our heads at seemingly obvious conundrums and feeling quite stupid when we finally got the answer right after several attempts. The difficulty curve has gone up steadily between episodes 1 and 4 and that does make it a little more compelling to try your hand at each new episode. Ultimately though, we still talked over some of the cut scenes and were kind of glad when it was all over. There was no compulsion to play any more.

Pros:

  • A nice social way to pass an hour or two with friends
  • Some puzzles in episode 4 are more taxing
  • Easy trophies for the completionist

Cons:

  • No replay value (puzzles and solutions are always the same)
  • Cut scenes can become tedious and can’t be skipped
  • Extremely short with only a dozen puzzles to do

It is hard to justify £4.79 on such a short and relatively shallow experience. For £9.99 you can pick up three episodes, and even then it is hard to justify. For your money there are plenty of more engaging, deeper PSN titles out there.

Blue Toad Murder Files isn’t a bad game – it’s just not a particularly good one either. It will find a niche following who enjoy each new episode, but ultimately, it’s too expensive for what you get. The earlier episodes probably merit a 5, I have marked this one up slightly on account of the more time-consuming puzzles.

6/10

 

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