The developers at Relentless Software rarely get a chance to let their creative juices run loose. Best known for pumping out an array of Buzz titles, the only other titles under their belt include the critically panned DJ: Decks & FX and a few Singstar and EyeToy projects. Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle is Relentless’ first attempt at crafting a story based game, one that revolves around solving riddles/logic puzzles, paying close attention to absolutely everything and ultimately getting to the bottom of a grizzly murder in a very British case of “whodunit”.
As grim as that all may sound Blue Toad is surprisingly up-beat and family friendly. Imagine a Professor Layton game set in the Buzz universe, Blue Toad Murder Files is almost exactly that. Upon starting the game you’ll choose which member of the Blue Toad Agency you want to play as, however none of the characters look particularly appealing and the story doesn’t alter in any way no matter who you choose. Once you’ve chosen your desired protagonist you’ll see yourself arrive in Little Riddle, a peaceful town located in an the English country side. It’s here at this very moment that you’ll discover whether or not this game is for you. See, the enjoyment you’ll find in Blue Toad varies drastically depending on your affinity towards British humour. If that sort of thing is not you’re cup of tea (so to speak) you’re likely to find yourself becoming annoyed with a most of the characters in Little Riddle and a majority of the comedic moments will either go completely over your head or fall flat. It’s for that reason why I’d strongly encourage everyone to check out our quick look before throwing down £6.29 to purchase the first episode or £9.99 for a bundle containing episodes 1 and 2
If you’re the kind of guy who enjoys a good ol’ Monty Python whilst indulging in extracurricular activities you’ll no doubt have heaps of fun solving some truly mind boggling puzzles in between listening to hilarious banter from the Little Riddle town folk. Each of the first two episodes contain 12 puzzles which will last you roughly 45 minutes, unfortunately neither of them offer any replay value unless you decide to conduct another play-through to earn any missed trophies. If the pricing and structure for Blue Toad Murder Files remains the same for the four upcoming episodes you can expect to pay upwards of £30 on a 4 to 5 hour experience, making a trip to Little Riddle rather expensive.
The range of available puzzles in the first two episodes are impressive. You’ll be exercising your mind trying to figure out everything for maths problems to logic puzzles and at times you’ll even have to decipher cryptic messages or listen to witness accounts to piece together events. Years of developing Buzz titles have obviously taught Relentless Software a thing or two about how to make answering tricky questions actually fun. On the surface, the biggest (and probably only) advantage that Blue Toad Murder Files has over the Professor Layton games is the ability to play alongside up to three your friends. Unfortunately the multiplayer feels extremely half baked requiring you to pass the controller over to your fellow man after each puzzle. Again the story doesn’t change to accommodate for the additional players and the more humans you introduce in to the mix, the longer you’ll have to wait for the controller to return to your hands. Still, watching your friends struggle to solve the simplest of puzzles is always entertaining and since your individual scores are tallied up at the end of the game you have every incentive to mislead them in order to secure your place at the top.
Blue Toad Murder Files is a entertaining romp and a solid first attempt for Relentless Software as they attempt to branch out of their comfort zone. Some characters may be overly annoying and the story isn’t particularly interesting but there is enough charm and brain-bending challenge here to please any Limey-Loving, Professor Layton fan. Hopefully the quality and execution of the writing will improve during episodes 3 through 6 because as flawed as the first 2 episodes may be they have at least intrigued me enough to stick around and find out.