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iPhone/iPad review of the day: Puzzle Agent

On iPhone
Puzzle Agent
Price: $4.99
Size: 69.6 MB
Get it now on the iTunes store:US/UK

On iPad
Puzzle Agent HD
Price: $6.99
Size: 56 MB
Get it now on the iTunes store:US/UK

Of all the departments in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the puzzle research division is by far the most important. After all, who else investigates serious problems like a shortage of presidential pencil erasers? OK, maybe it’s not all that serious, but it’s a perfect fit for Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent, a game that takes the Professor Layton formula and makes it dark, strange, hilarious, and wonderful.

As Nelson Tethers, you’ll be investigating an eraser factory in the curious town of Scoggins, Minnesota. While at first everything appears to be quiet and lovely, there’s an overriding sense that something bizarre is going on. Everyone seems to be hiding some kind of secret. You never quite know who to trust. It’s sort of like Fargo featuring potentially murderous garden gnomes.

The game features the unmistakable art of cartoonist Graham Annable, who you might know from the comic Grickle, and it creates an incredibly unique atmosphere. And like the dark yet goofy story, the visuals are delightfully contradictory. While everything is has a squiggly cartoon look to it, you still can’t shake that feeling that something bad is about to happen. There’s just something that doesn’t look quite right. And it makes you wonder what’s really going on.

This amazing, though tragically brief, mystery is wrapped up in a game that follows the Professor Layton formula pretty much exactly. You’ll be investigating the town, talking to its residents, and every single one of them will give you a brainteaser to solve before you can move on. There are hints you can use, and you can gather more by collecting bits of old gum around town.

So yeah, it’s Professor Layton, if it was set in Twin Peaks. With scary gnomes. What are you waiting for?

Dec 15, 2010