Puzzle Agent HD


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Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent Hands-On Preview

In just five years, Telltale Games has already amassed quite a following by making episodic adventure games based on licensed brands like CSI and Sam & Max. Their newest adventure game, Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent, marks a slight departure for the studio.

That’s because this game launches a new brand developed by Telltale. In conjunction with the NBC Universal deal announcing new games set in the Back to the Future and Jurassic Park universes, rolling out new IP shows growth is happening for them.

We had a chance to play Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent on the iPad at E3, and it seems to stand on the shoulders of the Professor Layton games for the Nintendo DS. Throughout this 3-4 hour episode, much of your time will be spent solving puzzles to progress the storyline.

The story is set in Scoggins, Minnesota, where townspeople have a curious obsession with puzzles. Many of the puzzles, from jigsaws to logic games, will get progressively harder, and we’re told that the final version should have about 30-40 puzzles to dig into.

Though we only saw a few puzzles in our time with the game, we were intrigued by what was presented. We saw some setups that were interactive, and others featuring optical illusions. Obviously we can’t comment on puzzle diversity until the game launches, but the team at Telltale Games confidently assured us that things will not get stale.

Collecting and using gum pieces power the game’s optional hint system. We enjoyed the hint system, because it means that both core and casual gamers should be able to enjoy the game.

Without question, Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent has a look and feel that’s very distinct and inspired. Graham Annable of Grickle fame has created a visual style that’s minimalist and a bit dark. You wouldn’t be far off if you compared this to an animated version of the movie Fargo. The voice-over work appeared solid, too. We heard several instances of clever and ironic dialogue. In other words, classic Telltale.

This is the first project out of the “Pilot Program” from Telltale Games. Depending on its reception, more games in this new universe may be coming down the line. Based on the studio’s track record, we’re excited to spend more time with Nelson Tethers. We’re expecting the game to launch very soon, so look for a full review when it does.

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Puzzle Agent HD iPad Review

When it comes to puzzle-based adventure games, only one has name recognition: Professor Layton. Does Nelson Tethers come close to the celebrated Nintendo DS series? If this episode of Puzzle Agent is any indication, he just might.

Puzzle Agent stars Nelson Tethers, an FBI agent working for the U.S. Department of Puzzle Research who is assigned to investigate the mystery of an ‘incident’ at the Scoggins, Minnesota eraser factory. Like any other puzzle mystery, the townsfolk give you clues in the form of puzzles.

The point-and-click exploration of Puzzle Agent uses a control scheme that trumps most others. Tapping anywhere on the screen scans an area around your finger that shows you anything that can be inspected or talked to.

This elf is mad about getting on Santa’s naughty list.

The puzzles are all well-optimized for the touchscreen, considering Puzzle Agent was ported from the PC. Most involve drawing lines, punching in numbers, or rotating tiles. Our only gripe with the puzzles is that some are just more difficult versions of the same puzzle.

Like most other puzzle mysteries, a hint system is in place where you can request up to three hints for an item (in this case, gum) found scattered around the environment.

Puzzle Agent is loaded with cutscenes and excellent voice acting for every character. Occasionally you may run across a missing bit of audio, but every line of dialogue also shows up as a speech bubble, so this isn’t a big deal.

Just when Nelson thought it was another mundane day behind the desk…

Our biggest disappointment is that Puzzle Agent is on the short side. It lasted us about three and a half hours to complete all 37 puzzles. The reason we found the length of the game to be an issue is that the mystery cuts out right at the climax, and you find yourself back in your office, leaving the case without closure.

Puzzle Agent is available on both the iPhone and iPad (we played through the game on the latter). One thing to note about the iPad version is that it leaves a small black bar along the top and bottom of the screen, but we barely noticed it.

If the next Puzzle Agent game ties up these loose ends, Nelson Tethers could be the next great puzzle-solving mystery man. Lofty expectations aside, we found this garden gnome-filled adventure to be entertaining for a first installment.

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