Puzzle Agent in Review – Freeze, FBI! Department of Puzzle Research!

Talking about the modern adventure games scene, it’s impossible to avoid mentioning Telltale Games. The company that pioneered episodic adventure games and trusted by LucasArts to resurrect the Sam & Max and Monkey Island franchises is definitely the pillars of the genre both on the PC/Mac and across the various consoles available. On the App Store they are known for Sam & Max Episode 1: The Penal Zone for iPad and Wallace & Gromit The Last Resort for iPad – and just recently, for their first original title – Puzzle Agent (HD).

Puzzle Agent is not your common point-and-click adventure; rather it’s a collection of puzzles strung together by a plotline and original art-style. Nelson Tethers is the sole member of the U.S. Department of Puzzle Research. One day he is charged with a dauntingly difficult task of solving the mystery of the Scoggins Eraser factory, the sole supplier of the White House’s erasers. Now he must race against time and the rapidly dwindling supply of erasers to uncover the truth behind the sudden shutdown of the factory.

Puzzle Agent manages quite nicely to mask for a point-and-click adventure, at least at first. You’ll immediately find yourself in the comfortable surroundings of hot-spots and dialogues. But very soon you’ll discover the truth behind Puzzle Agent! To make even the slightest progress in the game you’ll have to solve puzzles, more puzzles and guess what, solve more puzzles. There is no pixel-hunting or inventory here, though finding the hot-spot to trigger the puzzle is still required.

The puzzles are refreshingly original. What’s even more surprising, you’ll encounter a particular type being repeated a couple of times at most. The difficulty level of most borders on the very easy, though several really made my head hurt, even despite all of my previous experience. And here Puzzle Agent shows it’s concern for the casual player – each puzzle has 3 levels of hints available to help those stumbling their way to eraser heaven. These hints are unlocked using chewing gum, gathered on your journeys across the neighborhood. And after solving each puzzle you are assessed on the amount of tries to get it right and the amount of hints used up to the perfect rank of top agent.

Graphically Puzzle Agent is made in a peculiar pencil-drawn style that is the hallmark of the indie comic artist Graham Annable. Sadly some problems have crept into the encoding used for the cutscenes, leading to often quite horrible quality in the visuals department, including blurring and pixelization. On the upside the developers are looking into the issue and it will likely be solved in a nearby update. The interface is fully adapted to the touch-screen capabilities of the iPhone and the pixel-hunting issues are solved by a ripple, emanating from the point you touch the screen and thus highlighting all the hot-spots.

Puzzle Agent is quite a unique experience on any platform, not only the App Store. Rarely has anyone ever managed to combine original puzzles and an intriguing storyline to make the perfect casual adventure that is Puzzle Agent. The only real issue is the cutscene quality that spoils the experience on a number of occasions. But if you’re looking for a creative puzzle-solving adventure, you’re definitely not going to go wrong with the Telltale’s latest offering.

With this I declare Puzzle Agent officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Puzzle AgentDeveloper: Telltale Inc
Reviewed Ver:1Min OS Req:2.2.1
Price:$4.99App Size:33.69MB
  • Original art-style
  • Great storyline and humorous dialogues
  • Great puzzles with very little repeats
  • Nicely adapted interface
  • Cutscene quality issues
  • Not very challenging for the most part
  • No Retina graphics

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