Blue Toad Murder Files (episode one): review

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No guns, no dragons, no sandbox world, no obsessively detailed car engines, no half naked young women, no online play… is there a place for Blue Toad Murder Files on the PS3?

Blue Toad is perhaps best described as what might result from a hot night of passion between Professor Layton, Columbo, and Cluedo. Yes, one naturally conceived child with three parents is impossible; but if you’re prepared to accept a video game series having sex with a TV programme and a board game, then you really shouldn’t be trying to apply logic to the situation. Cluedo’s part in the threesome is the most appropriate, as the Blue Toad concept actually started life as a board game.

Yes, saying that IS asking for trouble...

Episode one is basically twelve puzzles weaved into a murder investigation, with questions to see if you’ve been paying attention to the story along the way. The story, as you may have gathered from the bright cartoony screenshots, doesn’t take itself all that seriously. Brilliantly, the moment of the murder itself is accompanied by the classic melodramatic da- da daaaaa! noise. Humour runs throughout the episode and, while it’s not full of laugh out loud hilarity, there are certainly moments to make you chuckle.

The narrator sounds like a rather subdued Brian Blessed, and immediately prepares you for what turns out to be a very British game. Only one of the characters is not British, and she is voiced by a British man (all the voices were done by just one man – Tom Dussek – and this is far from obvious). We have nothing against American voices and settings in games – a few of us are American ourselves – but we applaud Relentless for bucking the trend, and not being ashamed of showing the world where they hail from (did you know that GTA devs Rockstar North, for example, are British?). The game still has universal appeal (unless you’re racist toward Brits of course, you blaggard) which certainly comes from the script, but most of all from the puzzles. There’s a good mix; in this first episode alone you’ll be asked to unravel anagrams, apply your brain to a maths problem, try to glean useful information from an old woman’s ramblings, solve lateral thinking puzzles, and more. The game’s coup de grace must surely be the multiplayer.

This game's a barrel of laughs *gunshot*

Up to four people can play together, in the strictly (and welcomingly) old fashioned way of passing one joypad between you. So you all watch the story scenes together (pay attention at the back!), and take turns to have a go at the puzzles. Each puzzle rewards the player with a gold, silver or bronze rosette at the end, depending on how long they took to solve it and how many mistakes they made. At the end of the episode, you all get to have a guess at whodunnit before the culprit is revealed. And of course, you’re ranked according to how well you did overall. It sounds corny, but this really is a game you can enjoy with all the family just as much as you can with your drinking buddies; check out our preview to see how gamers attending the Eurogamer Expo reacted to this very episode.

So download this just in time for Christmas, and you’ll have the perfect excuse to put the PS3 on when your nan and cousins come round. Once the episode’s finished, you can stick Modern Warfare 2 on and start shouting obscenities through your headset as a subtle hint for them to leave…

4/5

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

2 comments

  1. Marcus Nordstrom /

    How can you give a game with no replay-value whatsoever 4/5. Because I hope you replayed it an realized that the riddles are exactly the same. Infact if you miss a riddle the game tells you how you were supposed to solve it, so next tima just follow the directions. Why waste money on a game you can only experience once?

  2. half_empty80 /

    Not everyone replays through games. At only £6 it’s worth one play through I would say.

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