Telltale, the developers of Puzzle Agent, are well known for making other people’s games. Tales of Monkey Island, Sam & Max, and Wallace and Gromit are all intellectual properties not created by Telltale, but rather they are existing properties that Telltale has put their unique spin on. Telltale is in the business of making comedic point and click adventure games, and for the first time they have released their own unique property, Puzzle Agent.
So how does Puzzle Agent fare in comparison to Telltale’s other efforts? Admirably, and I will even say that it is much funnier than any of the Telltale games I have played to date. The game is ultimately a spin on the Professor Layton style of adventure set in the small town of Scoggins (home to the Scoggins Eraser Factory), meaning it is an adventure through a zany world in which the denizens provide the player with puzzles at nearly every opportunity.
If you find that Puzzle Agent’s sense of humor meshes well with your own, you are in for a treat. I was completely hooked by the awkward tension between the main character and his surroundings, as well as the understated strangeness about many elements of the environment. Towards the beginning of the game you meet a cagey old man, I found that everything about him- his appearance, voice acting, and attitude, so perfectly represented the cliche that Telltale was going for that I couldn’t help but laugh. If just looking at the characters tickled my funny bone, you can imagine what effect their greater role in the story and dialogue had on me.
I can’t say that the game will be funny for everyone, but I certainly found myself laughing out loud on multiple occasions. The humor plays a major role in my appreciation of Puzzle Agent, because without it you are left with a much lesser game.
The actual “this is a game” part of Puzzle Agent boils down to, unsurprisingly, a series of puzzles. While some of the puzzles are challenging, and many are mildly entertaining, they fail to live up to the standard set by the game’s comedic aspects. The game even repeats most puzzle types, so by the end you feel as if you are solving the same old puzzle. I found the most annoying to be the puzzles in which you must piece something together by dragging its parts together, and when the correct parts get close enough they will auto-lock onto one another. One can solve these puzzles almost by accident, and once they are solved you still must go through several presses to submit your answer and see if it was correct- even though by its very nature you know you have already solved the puzzle perfectly.
How can I enjoy a game so much that clearly has some issues with the first word in its title? Puzzle Agent’s well crafted story, hilarious characters, and spot-on dialogue manage to trump its biggest flaws. Since the puzzles are brief, and for the most part mentally engaging, I found it easy enough to cruise through them to get to the great parts of the game.
Puzzle Agent is a short ride, clocking in at around three hours to complete, but it is well worth your attention. The game is available on the App store for $4.99 (iPhone) and $6.99 (iPad). The iPad version benefits from the higher resolution, but otherwise you are getting the same hilarious experience on both platforms.
This game was reviewed on an iPad & iPod Touch 2g