Relentless Software’s Blue Toad Murder Files is a game which dares to try out an episodic structure, with different episodes set to be released consistently until all six are available on the store. This strategy failed to win over most gamers in Siren: Blood Curse and caused problems with the game’s length and plot, but can this light-hearted murder mystery title prove that the method can be successful, or does the game fail to break the mold?
You play as one of four characters from the Blue Toad Detective Agency who arrive at the quintessentially English village of Little Riddle, only to be confronted by a series of dastardly deeds that plague the populace. Immediately, you set about solving the first murder, and throughout Episode 1 you are given a cast of plausible suspects, as well as clues to the identity of the killer.
To learn who the murderer is, you must question several stereotypically English townsfolk, from the snobbish hotel manager to the reassuringly clichéd “h’officer” of the law. The process of interrogation is rather linear, with no choice or control available to the player, but this seems natural to the game, which styles itself like an episode of Poirot, and feels much like reading an Agatha Christe novel.
The voice acting for the game is superb; the characters are wonderfully brought to life, with each given a unique personality. Especially the narrator, who’s passionate voice gives a touch of humor to the generally boring aspects of games, such as menu navigation, while simultaneously managing to capture the manner of the Murder Mystery Radio dramas that dominated the first half of the 20th century. What is even more remarkable is that all the voice acting in the game is done by by one man, Tom Dussek, without any of the characters sounding the same.
While talking to the villagers you are tasked with puzzles and mini games of varying difficulty that tax the mind, but not your enjoyment. Solving the puzzles, which can be anything from math riddles to logical or verbal reasoning, can be rather difficult, but not so much as to frustrate the player, as most should be able to solve the puzzles given enough time. Fortunately, if there is an enigma which you just can’t crack, this doesn’t spell the end for your gaming session, as there is the option to ‘Give Up’, which allows you to continue, at the expense of any points. Points are given out depending on how fast you manage to find the solution, as well as how many times you make a mistake, with the reward being a gold, silver or bronze medal (unless you give up, and get nothing), all of which are then tallied up at the end and compared to your rival players.