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Review

Review: Puzzle Agent

A puzzling review.

Nearly a year after the PC release of Puzzle Agent, PS3 owners finally get a slice of this quirky adventure game. When first released on the PC, Puzzle Agent was a bit of an experiment. It formed part of Telltale Games’s Pilot Program in which the developers trialled one episode of a game to see if it was successful before running with it for a full blown series, just like in the case of many TV shows. As Puzzle Agent 2 is hitting the PC at the end of the month, it’s safe to say that Puzzle Agent was a hit. It’s understandable why too. Taking nods from the Professor Layton series with a hefty dose of film homages such as Fargo and Twin Peaks, Puzzle Agent is a pretty potent title indeed.

Players undertake the role of FBI Agent Nelson Tethers. He’s the sole member of the Puzzle Research Division and he’s so inconsequential to the FBI that even Mulder would have a nicer office than him. It’d be a very dull game if this was all that happened so fortunately a mysterious and puzzle based case comes along and thus Tethers is sent off to Scoggins, Minnesota (tick the Fargo box on your reference scoresheet).

From then on, Puzzle Agent gets very bizarre in terms of its storytelling. Think Sam & Max absurdity then quadruple it and add a dose of any of the previously mentioned films.


The game's art style is worthy of praise.
The puzzles within Puzzle Agent come in the form of 37 puzzles that ultimately boil down to the same rough thematic elements; compared to Professor Layton, they’re really quite simple. That’s not to say that they’re not enjoyable by any means, they’re just not hugely challenging for people used to this genre. Many will involve manipulating objects to fit them appropriately, pointing out the odd one out in a line up or solving word problems. It’s all quite obvious stuff that’s enjoyable but won’t test the brain matter hugely.

For players who do get stuck, there is the addition of a hint system. Gum that can be found through exploration offers a way of unlocking hints with up to three hints available for each puzzle. The main punishment for using these hints is a lower rating at the end of the puzzle which inevitably affects trophy gains. Other than that, it’s just down to whether the player feels compelled to use such clues. There’s no randomness to be seen in these puzzles making Puzzle Agent, much like the Blue Toad Murder Files, only really worth playing once. Given this, to get true value for money I’d recommend avoiding hints unless there is absolutely no other option.

Controls are typical of a point and click adventure but they do seem to have suffered in the conversion from PC to PS3. Each screen offers a series of points of interest which are accessed by holding down R1 while scrolling through the options with the left stick. This method is also used within the puzzles and at times it can be difficult to pinpoint the right option. Move Support would have been particularly welcome here.

Despite the irritation of the controls, Puzzle Agent is still a sound but brief game. It’ll only take a matter of hours to complete for the most part but it is enjoyable. Puzzle Agent also makes for an ideal game to play amongst a family, much like Blue Toad Murder Files before it. The production values are certainly there just like many of Telltale’s previous hits. It’s certainly piqued my interest ready for Puzzle Agent 2.

Pros:

  • Entertaining storyline.
  • Great to play with friends.
  • Excellent voice acting.
  • Charming hand-drawn style.
  • Unobtrusive hint system.

Cons:

  • Puzzles can only really be completed once.
  • Little short for the price tag.
  • Control system needs a little work.

Puzzle Agent is a curious title. It doesn’t quite hit the spot in some ways with its puzzles often too simple and unchallenging but it never feels hugely to the detriment of the game. The story grips the player and makes for an intriguing introduction to the Puzzle Agent franchise. It’d be nice if future instalments could sort out the increasingly frustrating control system however.

Score: 7/10

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6 Comments
  1. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Good review, i’m watching out for a special offer but interested in this.

    Comment posted on 25/06/2011 at 17:12.
    • teflon
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      The special offer’s already there on PC. If you pre-order Puzzle Agent 2, then you get 1 for free along side it.

      It’s a good little game, and I really quite enjoyed it last year. Actually managed to be a little bit creepy and humorous. Good game.

      Comment posted on 25/06/2011 at 18:54.
  2. mynameisblair
    hisnameisblair
    Since: May 2009

    Great voice acting and story, but the controls could be better and it’s only good for 1 playthrough? Sounds like a Telltale game, alright! :D

    Comment posted on 25/06/2011 at 19:50.
  3. nofi
    One for all.
    Since: Forever

    Quite liked it on iPad. A bit rough, but enjoyable enough.

    Comment posted on 25/06/2011 at 22:50.
  4. aerobes
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    Top little game which I enjoyed hugely. A bit expensive but I certainly don’t regret it considering some of the crap I’ve bought in the past. Is a little demo for all PSN games really such a big ask?

    Comment posted on 25/06/2011 at 23:13.
  5. SpikeyMikey23
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Love the graphical style. May give this a go.

    Comment posted on 26/06/2011 at 07:39.

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