Blue Toad Murder Files doesn't feel like a port of a PS3 game. It feels like a title that's found its rightful home after a couple of years of wandering. The simple gameplay translates perfectly to the touchscreen of your iOS device, and the gentle pace is perfect for an evening spent reclining on the sofa.
It's by no means a perfect game, and there are some issues with load times in particular with this version, but if you're looking for a series of interconnected mini-games held together by comedy stereotypes then you're in for something of a treat.Murder you read
The game is split into three mysteries, which are playable in any order but form a narrative line if played in the correct one. You play as a member of the titular detective agency who's been sent to the sleepy town of Little Riddle for some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Inevitably, your arrival at the once-peaceful village has a Jessica Fletcher-style impact on the local mortality statistics. It's up to you to solve a series of puzzles, listen to the testimonies of the suspects, and figure out whodunnit.
The puzzles are always on the easier side of fiendish, but they're still interesting enough to keep you focused on your task, and a medal system based on how long you take to perform each task keeps you on your toes.
There are memory games to play as well, and the game pokes and cajoles you to make sure you've been paying attention. Everything is controlled with taps and swipes, whether it's a multiple-choice question or a puzzle that sees you fitting the right words into a muddled prescription.Stuck on clue
Throughout the three episodes you'll get to know the residents of Little Riddle, and play a part in a larger conspiracy. The voice acting on show here is superb, and the humour is broad enough that even the darkest cynic might raise a sardonic chuckle here and there.
What the game does best is build its atmosphere. There are plenty of in-jokes for fans of British television, from a disgruntled hotelier who complains about his wife to an older female detective who goes by the name of Mapel.
Of course there's a manor involved somewhere along the line, and a meddling policeman who thinks he's better qualified to solve the crimes than you are. Blue Toad Murder Files likes to gently break the fourth wall, always nudging you in the ribs and making sure you're watching when it pulls off a cheeky wink.
And, to be honest, there's something refreshing about that in a world dominated by hyper-sexualised modern warfare simulators, where your only interactions with the universe built for you involve blasting it to pieces.Guess whom
Blue Toad Murder Files is a sedate and occasionally gripping series of puzzles that are at best tangentially linked to a murder. The narrative is rich and satisfying, where the puzzles offer entertaining diversions that never quite link to your investigation.
Then there are the times it looks like the game has crashed, hanging on a screen for a couple of seconds before jolting back into life. There's a distinct lack of player agency, too - you're pushed from one puzzle to the next without that much say.
Still, there's a lot to like here - especially if you're a fan of narrative-driven gaming. There's not a huge amount of challenge, but Blue Toad Murder Files offers an entertaining holiday in a world that's not afraid to poke fun at itself, and you.