Sometimes going into a game completely blind can be a really good thing. You don’t have any preconceived notions or expectations and there’s no hype level to live up to. I hadn’t heard a peep about Tangle Tower upon receiving the game code other than it was some type of murder mystery game. A few minutes in I was instantly hooked with its witty and often hilarious dialog. Hours later I was still impressed with the variety of characters and clever puzzle designs. Fans of point and click adventure games should take notice, this one is definitely worth playing!
Up front I want to dispel any preconceived notions that you might already have about the game, even from reading my first paragraph of this review. Yes, the general progression plays a lot like a typical point and click adventure game, but unlike the classics such as Maniac Mansion, there isn’t a vast inventory system. That’s not to say you don’t collect items, because you definitely do. It’s just that you don’t then use those items on the environments to progress. Instead, they are added to your case file so you can then show these clues you’ve discovered to other NPCs to gather more insight into them. In this sense the game plays more closely to a visual novel where you’ll mostly be poking around the environments and the two detectives you play as will offer commentary on them. Each screen you explore usually contains a puzzle to solve as well as an NPC to question.
Perhaps I should back up just a bit and explain the story. It turns out there is this huge mansion with two pillars on each side and the entire estate is called Tangle Tower. A girl named Freya Fellow has been found murdered at the top of one of the spires. It appears she has been stabbed by a knife. The only problem is that the only bloody knife in the vicinity of the victim appears to be the one she was painting in a portrait at the time of her death. You play as Detective Grimoire and Sally, two investigators on the hunt for clues that will lead them to the killer. Along the way you’ll meet a bunch of eccentric characters that reside in this huge house. Most rooms are locked at the beginning, but as you begin to interact with the characters more will become available to explore. You’ll want to point and click (or use the touchscreen) everywhere to gain background knowledge on the surroundings as well as pick up clues.
The crux of the game is not only exploring every inch of the house, but also to interrogate each resident. You’ll gather background information on each of them and then you can ask them about the items you’ve discovered in your exploration, which can sometimes yield new information. That does mean you’ll want to circle back around to these individuals after you’ve been to more rooms and found more evidence so you can press them for more information. Once you’ve gathered the necessary resources you’ll unlock the deductive reasoning aspect of the game where you will be able to fill in the blanks of a sentence to make a proclamation. This will propel the story forward and is really fun when you nail the answer on the first try!
While there’s nothing really revolutionary about the core gameplay mechanics, the presentation really seals the deal. The graphics are simply gorgeous and feature a highly unique art style that instantly makes Tangle Tower stand out from the crowded Switch eShop’s selection of games. The game is colorful and bright and its characters are expertly designed, resulting in a memorable experience. The animations of the characters as you interview them is quite striking and reminded me slightly of Hotel Dusk on the Nintendo DS, except in color. The characters are always in motion with their thick outlines always animating, giving them a sort of “sketchbook come alive” aesthetic that really adds some flair to the game’s visuals. Each room is meticulously detailed and the first time I entered a new room I was genuinely excited to see what awaited me. While it’s true that most of the backgrounds are static and lack any sort of special effects to liven them up, I never felt the game lacked much in the visual department.
Where the game really shines is with the soundtrack and voice acting. Both of these are top-notch and without them the game wouldn’t score nearly as high. The writing in this game is on point and offers up countless scenes of funny interactions between the characters. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion and even when I wasn’t chuckling I was constantly impressed by the witty dialog. Each character sounds distinct and has a unique personality that I came to really love. The music is simply astounding throughout the game, oftentimes ebbing and flowing with the story. When chatting with the various people throughout the adventure the soundtrack really shines with a fully orchestrated feel to it that adds big time to the ambiance of this huge mansion. Games like this one require excellence in the audiovisual realm to stand out and Tangle Tower nails it.
I had an absolutely wonderful time solving the case of Tangle Tower. The memorable characters, intriguing plot, and wonderful sound design made the four hour or so adventure worth every minute. There is a lot of tapping every single item on the screen and more than enough time will be spent talking to each resident, but that’s the general progression of games like these. I do wish the game were a bit longer and contained more puzzles, but maybe that will be the case if they ever make a sequel. This game is a pleasant surprise and a delight to play!
Tangle Tower Review
- Graphics - 9/109/10
- Sound - 10/1010/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7/107/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Developed by the studio that brought us Snipperclips, Tangle Tower is a highly entertaining whodunit murder mystery that’s sort of a cross between an interactive graphic novel and a point and click adventure game. It features fantastic art and animation combined with a truly amazing soundtrack and superb voice acting to really make the experience memorable. By the end I was yearning for more – and hopefully I’ll get it in the future!