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Puzzle Agent

 

 

SCORE: 78

 

Puzzle Agent 

 

Something’s amiss in Scoggins, Minnesota. Armed with only chewing gum and an unlimited supply of tax payer dollars, Nelson Tethers (an agent of the U.S. Department of Puzzle Research) must get to the bottom of the mystery. Puzzle Agent by Telltale Games combines clever puzzles with a point and click adventure to create a distinctive game.

The appearance of Puzzle Agent may not be what you would expect from a modern day game. It looks like someone took the Sunday comics, scanned them into a computer and then animated them. Interestingly, this design works pretty well. The graphics are very simple, but somehow very entertaining and certainly fit the tone of the game. The atmosphere is somewhat dark as the plot revolves around solving a mystery which may include foul play. You won’t find many questionable images in Puzzle Agent. A dead body is presented on one occasion and guns are used once or twice throughout the course of the game. Other than these things, the game is graphically safe for families.

The audio in Puzzle Agent is used well. The background music subtly supports the mysterious mood of the game. Certain events in the game are intense and the music conveys this feeling. The dialog in the game is humorous as you would expect from a Telltale Games production. The locals also have exaggerated “Minnesota accents” which makes things a bit more comical don’t cha know. There are some brief instances where the “d word” and “hell” are used so parents should be aware of this. The other sound effects used throughout the game are appropriate and fit the situation.

Puzzle Agent is a brief game that won’t take players long to work through. There are no apparent unlockable features or achievements. Once completing the game you can access the free play mode to repeat playing any of the 30+ puzzles in the game. This may appeal to some players, but to me it seemed redundant and uninteresting. Although this game is short and doesn’t feature much in the way of extras, it is a very satisfying adventure that will leave you wanting a sequel.

I love the gameplay of Puzzle Agent. It is basically a series of puzzles with a bit of adventure thrown into the mix. The puzzles range from simply fitting pieces and objects together to computing mind boggling time calculations. There is great variety here in the way of puzzles and they are seldom repeated. The game moves quickly as you work through the dialog to unravel the story. Characters will present you with puzzles to solve at every turn. While some of these were a bit of a stretch, most are fun and fit into the story in some way. The puzzles are what I would describe as a sadistic IQ test. You will find yourself thinking that there is no possible solution to some of the given puzzles only to find that the only thing preventing a solution was your brain. Fortunately, Agent Tethers thinks better when gnawing on some chewing gum. The game cleverly incorporates this as a hint system. Each puzzle affords you the opportunity to use three hints in the form of chewing gum to help you figure out the solution. The controls are pretty simple and only require the use of the mouse. I did find, however, that moving the pieces on certain puzzles was difficult as the mouse would grab a different piece than the one I thought I had clicked on. The rules (or instructions) laid out for some of the puzzles also left a little to be desired. On more than one occasion I had to guess at what to do and then submit an incorrect solution to see exactly what I was supposed to be trying to do. Most puzzles were explained adequately, but a little extra attention to describing the rules on certain puzzles would have been helpful.

This game is fairly safe for adults and older children. There is some mild language on rare occasion and the story would be a little too intense for younger players. Adults and children mature enough for a “murder mystery” type game should get enjoyment out of this one. Other than the language mentioned earlier, I found no other offensive materials in the game. I should note that there is a group in this game that may be construed as a cult. Calling them cultists is a bit of a stretch, but they do hold secret meetings and perform some heavy meditation. If you can tolerate these mild offenses this is an enjoyable game, you betcha.
-Roger

 

Graphics: 75%
Sound: 74%
Replay/Extras: 71%
Gameplay: 93%
Family Friendly Factor: 78%
System: Personal Computer
Publisher: TellTale Games
Rating: 'E' for Everyone
{Mild Language, Mild Violence, Use of Tobacco}

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Roger@familyfriendlygaming.com