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.