[Review] Tangle Tower – Nintendo Switch

Written by Mel Curtis
  • Developer:¬† SFB Games
  • Publisher: SFB Games
  • Release date: 22/10/2019
  • Price: ¬£15.49 / $19.99
  • Review code provided by SFB Games

Curiouser and Curiouser

I’ve always been a fan of puzzles and mysteries. I just find figuring things out to be very fun. It’s likely why I have a tendency to consume media about figuring things out such as cop and medical shows. (In fact, an episode of House is playing in the background as I type up this review.) That means that I have always been drawn to games like the Professor Layton or Ace Attorney Series, but since only one of those has made a debut on switch so far, i needed something more to scratch that itch. Tangle Tower seemed like a promising candidate.

We’re on the Case

In Tangle Tower, you take on the role of Detective Grimoire, investigating the mysterious death of a young girl at a manor known as Tangle Tower with your assistant, Sally. There, you get to meet a cast of characters making up two different families who live in the home, discovering secrets and ultimately finding out exactly whodunnit. It’s a simple and straightforward premise but there’s a lot of fun interpersonal drama between the characters that makes it all a little more fun. Not to mention that the characters¬† are a blast. Your main characters who you will spend the entire game with a witty and snarky, but are genuinely invested in figuring out exactly what’s going on that they never feel flippant or dismissive of the suspects or the victim herself.

Surveying the Murder Scene

Let me just say before anything else that this game is absolutely gorgeous. Please take a look at the trailer above to see what I mean. I’m a bit of a nut for animation so seeing more projects coming out like this lately brings me so much joy. Everything from the background art to the character design is absolutely delightful in a way that just had me smiling every time that I got to see a new part of the game or a new character. The screenshots that I am putting in this review do not do the characters justice. Seeing them in motion is a real treat. Each one is beautifully animated and expressive in a variety of ways. Their designs lend towards expressing their personality through animation brilliantly. The color palate really pops and gives everything an look that would be right out of a fantasy picture book, despite being a modern setting.

The entire thing is voice acted as well, and I mean the entire thing. It’s not voiced in important parts and then canned lines playing over the actual dialog. Every word that a character speaks aloud is voiced out in full, and it’s wonderful work on the part of the cast. The combination of the vocal work with the animation elevates the story of the game, so much so that I played through the entire thing in one sitting. So, how does it play?

Finding the Clues

Tangle Tower is your tried and true point and click adventure game with puzzles and rubbing objects against people until progress appears. For an example of that genre, this one stands strong. There are a few less traditional puzzles than I expected there to be with the game having more puzzles where you have to assemble evidence and statements to produce an answer to a question, or show the right person the right object to learn something that will help you move forward. It’s simple in it’s execution, but it works. There are a few ways to control the game, which is great because it’s always nice to have some options. You can move the pointer with the stick of the joy-con or motion controls to do the pointing and clicking, or you could play the way that I did, which was to just play with the touchscreen alone. All of them work perfectly fine and everyone is going to have their own ideas of what is the most comfortable.

The interfaces are quick, snappy, and easily understood at a glance, as a good menu should be. Though it is of particular importance in a game like this where you’ll spend some time in menus looking at evidence or investigating your subjects. It’s never unclear what the objective of a puzzle is either, even if the solution might elude you for a while. None of them were frustratingly difficult, though. I would be stuck on one for what felt like a while, but in all reality, was likely just a handful of minutes. They’re difficult enough to make you pause for a while with them, but not so much that you’re going to turn the game off in frustration. Hints abound as well, allowing you to get a slight nudge int he right direction without outright giving you the solution, and there’s no punishment for using them, so it doesn’t feel like you’re being shamed by the game.

And the Murderer is-

The only real downside to the game is that it is rather short without much room for replay value. There isn’t any sort of a New Game+ where the puzzles get harder or anything like that, the most you can do in deviation when playing again, is run objects against people to produce dialog that you didn’t see before because it made no sense to show the person that item. (And in that case it’s unlikely they’ll have much interesting to say.) It’s one of those games that can be played in one sitting by a dedicated player and even faster if you actually know what you’re doing. It’s one that I know that I will revisit for the look alone, but only after a year or so when I’ve had enough time to forget the solutions to all the puzzles.

Pros

  • Beautiful animated artwork and backgrounds
  • Stellar vocal work
  • Puzzles that challenge but do not frustrate
  • Lively cast of characters

Cons

  • Keen players may find it on the short end
  • Low replay value

Verdict
An absolutely gorgeous puzzle mystery that will delight fans of the genre and charm others into it.
4.5/5

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