Puzzle Agent by Telltale Games {PC Game Review}

What the heck is going in Scoggins, Minnesota? When White House inquiries to the Scoggins Eraser Co. are answered only with curious puzzles, the U.S. Department of Puzzle Research’s Nelson Tethers is sent on the case.

The strange case of Scoggins plunges Tethers into a mystery that will challenge every ounce of his expertise, and possibly his very wits too. He must overcome brainteasers at every turn, including mazes, logic puzzles and riddles, and he soon realizes that these – along with the clinically pre-occupied townspeople, secret societies, and mysterious sounds from the forest – are intimately connected to the core conundrum. And what’s with the gnomes?

My husband is big into puzzle games so he willing volunteered to review this game on my behalf! Here are his thoughts on Puzzle Agent…

I’d heard mentions on TellTale Games Twitter account of Puzzle Agent and was pretty excited to have the chance to give it a try. Before I get started I want to note that I had a review version of the game, so the few minor gripes I have might be fixed in the version you can buy now (and the versions soon to be available in the Apple store and on the Wii.)

I’ve been a fan of adventure games since the first time my dad brought home a 486 machine that ran MS DOS and games came on 3.5 in disks. When I heard that TellTale was bringing back some of my old favorites (Monkey Island and Sam and Max) and some of my new favorites (Strong Bad), they were my new best friends. The puzzle adventure games are making a comeback. The world is returning to balance. One of their latest creations in Puzzle Agent.

Puzzle Agent follows Nelson Tether’s Puzzle Agent through a mystery in a small town of Scoggins, MN. The eraser factory is shut down, and they make the erasers for the White House, so this situation needs solved fast.

I mentioned several other adventure games, so I’d like to clarify what Puzzle Agent is not: It’s not the same as other adventure games where you come across ‘world puzzles’ such as a wire over a chasm and you have to find the right rubber chicken (with a pulley in the middle) to get across, and you aren’t collecting items to combine them in different ways to solve other problems. What Puzzle Agent is though is a mystery adventure in which you come across stand alone puzzles. For instance one puzzle is in a diner and the waitress is distracted, so you solve a logic puzzle with some clues to figure out which dishes go to which customer. In another instance a stovepipe breaks and you have to turn the puzzle pieces to put it back together. When you aren’t interviewing the townsfolk, you are solving a puzzle.

One of the things I like about the mystery part of the game is the game doesn’t tell me what to think about the mystery. It unravels as you go, but I am allowed to put those pieces of the puzzle together in my head without the game telling me there they go. I like that.

An area the game falls short in is a few of the puzzles are entirely confusing with the info you start with, and you are required to use a hint, or guess, to get anywhere, at least that happened for me. Most are clear and are explained perfectly, but a couple fall short. Thankfully, there are a lot of puzzles, so the few I didn’t like didn’t take away from the game much. One though, I’m positive there were two ways to read the clues, and one was wrong and the other right.

I do like the hint system. Nelson needs to chew gum to think, so you find gum in different places to spend on hints. When you are stuck, you spend some gum and get a hint, each one giving you a more powerful hint. Use it sparingly though, because using clues lowers your score, plus it’s much more fun to figure them out by yourself, or with the help of a friend. You can play this multiplayer, just pull up another chair and solve all the puzzles together, or just when you need an extra set of eyes to see the problem from a different perspective.

In a few cases, the puzzle theme is entire arbitrary.  What I mean by that is the puzzle to solve has nothing to do with the situation at hand. It’s like someone said ‘there has to be a puzzle here’ and someone else said ‘I have a spare one’. That doesn’t mean they were bad puzzles, but it’d be nice if they always matched the situation at hand. Most do anyways. There are also just puzzles everywhere, even when it would seem a bit silly, but not only does the game poke a little bit of fun at itself for doing it, it’s expected (you know, because it’s called Puzzle Agent,) so suspend your disbelief and enjoy the puzzles.

Overall, Puzzle Agent is an enjoyable and fun. The voice acting it top notch. The lines are delivered without sounding forces or scripted. The art style is different that any other game I’ve seen and is unique and enjoyable without being a distraction. In a few cases, like the aforementioned waitress, shows a ton of emotion just in the way she’s drawn.

Puzzle Agent is a must have for a lover of puzzles. There are many different types to solve, along with a mystery.  TellTale Games is bringing back my favorite type of game, so do me a favor and help them make more by getting a copy of Puzzle Agent today, then getting one for your friends.

The following are known issues that will be fixed in the release build:

  • Occasional minor graphics glitches
  • Minor animation glitches
  • Some sound effects missing
  • Some typos / spelling errors

PC System Requirements:

Operating system: Windows XP / Vista
Processor: 2.0 GHz + (3 GHz Pentium 4 or equivalent rec.)
Memory: 512MB (1GB rec.) Sound: DirectX 8.1 sound device
Video: 64MB DirectX 8.1-compliant video card (128MB rec.)
DirectX: Version 9.0c or better

Buy it: You can learn more about this game at  http://www.telltalegames.com/puzzleagent and the game can be purchased straight from the Tell Tale Games site for either MAC or PC for just 9.95.

Disclaimer: I received this review as a member of the Game Review Network. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been edited or reviewed by anyone. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.