Title: Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent
System(s): *PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Wii (WiiWare)
Release Date: June, 30, 2010
Publisher (Developer): Telltale
ESRB Rating: “Everyone + 10″ for cartoon violence and mild language
Pros:Fun puzzle elements, you get to talk to lots of people and very creepy.
Cons:Not as open-ended as I would like, you can’t save on your own and it’s not a game for the kiddies.
Overall Score: Two thumbs up; 96/100; A; * * * * 1/2 out of five.
Nelson Tethers is the FBI’s top puzzle agent. In fact, he’s the FBI’s only agent. One day at work, the President calls Nelson and tells him to investigate the troubles of a important pencil factory (the President needs his pencils).
He arrives at the town of Scoggins to discover that something strange is going on involving the disappearance of factory workers and some very strange lawn gnomes. Nelson needs to use his powers of puzzle solving to get to the bottom of this strange affair.
Agent Tethers is on the Case
The game play is very much like the Professor Layton series. You talk to people and ask them questions about the case and, once in a while, they won’t answer you unless you solve a puzzle. There are all different types of puzzles in this game including logic, math, deduction and even those puzzles where you have to fit a bunch of oddly shaped pieces into a box.
Once you solve the puzzle you can ask more questions or just move on. There are puzzles that are needed to advance the story and some that are just for extra points. If you get stuck you can get a hint which costs a piece of gum. There are three hints to each puzzle and the hints get better the more gum you use. You find this gum laying around all over the place in the game so unless you use all three hints every puzzle, you should be alright. You get a score based on stars, the more stars you get the better the ranking. You lose stars if you make a mistake or if you use a hint.
The art style was done by Graham Annable who is known for making very creepy cartoon shorts. This game is no exception and even uses some of the characters from his shorts, like the evil lawn gnomes. The game can be funny at times but, mostly, it is just downright creepy. Also, the gnomes like to play tricks and meddle with your investigations, so expect some of your puzzles to be interrupted by those naughty gnomes.
Gnome Away From Gnome
It’s pretty easy to find gum and other important items in this game. The gum can be either green, blue, or pink and you can find it in very small blots on different surfaces. If you are having trouble finding anything, all you have to do is click on the screen with mouse, anywhere, and it will quickly highlight any interactable things in the area. Such interactables are people you can talk to, things you can look at closer, doors and gum. You can click all around the screen and it will show you anything in the immediate area.
You can’t pick up too many things in the game except for gum, but you can look at various clues laying around. Examining a clue further can sometimes lead to a puzzle or unlock a new location.
One of the things I don’t like about this game is there is no Save option. The game automatically saves itself after a puzzle or after you talk to people, but other than that you can’t save. I would like to be able to save before doing a hard puzzle so that if I make too many mistakes I can reload it and get a better score, but I guess they disabled saves to prevent that sort of thing. I would also like to be able to save in case something happens, then I would know that the game was saved and not assume that it was.
Puzzle Your Way Out of THIS One
It’s nice Telltale is making different types of games. I love their adventure games but this was a nice change of pace. The puzzles range in difficulty from easy to downright difficult, which gives you a bit of a challenge.
If you are a fan of puzzle games like Professor Layton then you should check out this little ditty. As I mentioned before it is very creepy (as well as goofy) so you might want to keep kids away from this one.