Telltale are generally considered the masters of the puzzle and point ‘n click genre. With titles like Sam & Max, Tales of Monkey island and many more gaining critical acclaim.
As ever, Telltale have crafted a charming world for Puzzle Agent. You control the titular hero, Nelson Tethers attempting to figure out the heads or tails of the eraser shortage that has befallen the White House. Tethers is the sole member of the Puzzle Division, a splinter group of the FBI.
The game itself is heavily reminiscent of the Professor Layton games, with puzzles being the obvious main hook. They are pretty much presented in exactly the same way as the puzzles in Professor Layton; not dissimilar to each other at all. However it’s here where Puzzle Agent gets into a little bit of a predicament. The puzzles themselves are absolutely fine bit it’s the low quantity of them that makes the game fall short. Some would say that it’s unfair to compare a full console release - Professor Layton – with this smaller, downloadable game released for everything under the sun, but this lack of puzzles left me hungry for a lot more and they all felt like they were ripped right from the Layton series, not that that’s a bad thing.
The puzzles are less orthodox than the ones seen in Professor Layton, however, with Tethers solving a myriad of stranger and zanier puzzles than seen before. One that stuck out to me was the different types of bird who could carry different amounts of stolen garden gnomes. The hint system is accessed by collecting pieces of used chewing gum and chewing them for extra concentration! Which is slightly unhygienic and just a little, well, strange. I found that the way the puzzles are explained were very bad and deciphering what I actually had to do was harder than some puzzles themselves! There are only around 40 Puzzles included in the game, ranging from frustratingly easy to furiously hard.
The game’s entire world is absolutely charming. With amicable graphics that look pleasing and inviting to the eye with its crayon styled characters and environments. My review is based on the PSN version of the game, and many adventure or point and click games tend to suffer when using a gamepad due to many requiring you to click absolutely everywhere. Telltale have developed a novel solution to the usual point and click console pain in the ass by making you simply press R1 to scan all of the scene and find all of the selectable objects and flick in between them. It’s an extremely handy mechanic and I’d love to see this system on more point and click adventure titles in the future; it makes the game absolutely painless to play on a gamepad.
Puzzle Agent aspires to be among puzzle game greats such as Professor Layton but falls short where it actually matters the most. However it’s obvious that Telltale has put a lot of effort into making this standalone title. I think that Puzzle Agent has massive potential for being the smaller, more digestible brother of Professor Layton and I hope that the next one truly lives up to what it deserves to be.
MLG Rating: 6/10
Platform: PS3/ PC/ Mac/ Wii/ iOS Release Date: 21/04/2011