There’s Been A Murrrrrder

During my brief encounter with the internet over the weekend to facilitate my exit from the Killzone 2 competition I set in motion the downloading of a few PSN games that I hadn’t had chance to play yet. Braid, naturally, is as wonderful as it is on the Xbox 360, I still don’t really think much of the God Of War III demo and the last game, Blue Toad Murder Files, has utterly confused me.

I don’t really understand what Relentless have tried to do.  Don’t get me wrong, as a ‘game’ I get it – you’re a detective and over the course of six episodes have to try to figure out the wrong doings in a sleepy middle England town called Little Riddle.  What I don’t understand is why the game is so boringly linear and flies along at such a pace that it’s over before you have chance to get into each episode.

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In the first episode you’re investigating the death of the town’s Mayor.  This manifests itself via a number of realtime cut-scenes, voiced by the same guy to give it that “kid’s TV feeling” and to make you think you’re being read a story where you have to solve the crime.  Except you don’t, really, each cut-scene ultimately gives way to a somewhat related puzzle (there are twelve per episode) that you have to solve.

Much like the Professor Layton series, these puzzles then give way to move exposition and, when you’re through them all and have suffered all the cut-scenes and Cluedo-esque levels of investigating you then have to figure out who committed the crime.  There’s nothing difficult about this section, in the first episode it’s made very clear to you whodunnit in the penultimate cut-scene, something you can’t miss.

Bizarrely, and I know this is meant to be a humourous, light hearted story, but the accusation of the ‘correct’ criminal based on a woolly alibi merely serves to rubbish everything you’ve done before.  There’s no real reason for that person to be guilty of the crime, and as it turns out chances are they weren’t anyway, with the final animation effectively wiping the slate (and all your puzzling work) clean.

It’s like Relentless wanted each episode to be purchaseble on its own, and thus no reason for prior stories to make sense and be required viewing prior.  Obviously I’ve only tested the first two (and episode two had a major bug in it anyway, which may have been patched since) but that’s the impression I get.  And sure, that might be the better business model but it makes for a disjointed set of bits.

Of course, it could get much better and towards the end of the game proper everything could tie together, but at the moment the game’s linear structure and bizarrely easy puzzles (I got gold on 10 on my first run through, which took much less than an hour) are spoiling my enjoyment of what could have been a charming, engaging diversion for the PSN.  A real shame, I was looking forward to this, but I think I’ll stick to Braid.

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