Was Puzzle Agent really made by the same company that brought us the much acclaimed Walking Dead?
So, just like Professor Layton, which inspired this game, we have an adventure game on our hands where the classical adventure game mechanisms (environmental puzzles, item combination, branching dialogues) have been replaced by logic puzzles, the vast majority of which have no actual tie to the story whatsoever.
The main problem with Puzzle Agent is that the puzzles aren't very good. Of the 37 that I've solved, I'd say only 5 to 8 were both fresh and challenging. The rest were either much too easy or felt really, really old. Far too many puzzles involved rotating tiles on a grid to form a loopy picture, or jigsaws of some sort. These were really not fun at all (but easy so at least you could get rid of most of them fast). When there was difficulty involved, it's unfortunately often because of poorly written instructions.
Another problem is the humour. It works occasionally. But 50% of the "jokes" involve characters staring at the main protagonist in silence when asked questions. Let me underline that: 50%!!! It's not exactly hilarious the first time, and it becomes completely, utterly stupid after a while.
It's not all bad. Like I said, a small number of puzzles were inventive. I also kind of liked the story (bar the humour), although I wish one shouldn't have to play the second episode to see the conclusion. (I won't!).
The art style is pleasant, but inconsistent, at least on PC. It's mostly "blurred/irregular lines", like in some comics, but then some stuff gets drawn with geometric precision, causing a very unaesthetic clash of styles. The animation is also very stiff, but I think that's on purpose. It may or may not bother you.
If there is one thing that I feel is wholly praise-worthy, it's the audio department. I loved the music. It sounds like a subtler version of Danny Elfman and admirably suits the story. And while the dialogues won't leave a lasting impression because of average to poor writing, the voice actors themselves made a commendably good job despite the material at hand.
Now, I'll be honest: I don't think puzzle adventure games have a bright future. It's a genre that is great in theory, but never works in practice. You'll always get more, better designed puzzles in a magazine (like GAMES Magazine) and the stories in those video games will always feel tacked on. I didn't like Puzzle Agent, but I didn't like Professor Layton either. However, if you absolutely must play a game from that narrow genre, well, Layton has better puzzles.
Posted: November 30th, 2013