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‘Touch Detective’ Review – A Charming Adventure

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With adventure games seeing a serious revival on iOS, it should come as no surprise the ports keep on coming. Case in point, Beeworks Games took to bringing over Success’ Touch Detective [Free] from the Nintendo DS, a five-year-old game that never saw massive sales on its initial release, but is given new life on iOS. The game got lukewarm reviews when initially released, but an innovative release methodology on iOS helps break it apart from the rest of the pack.

With each of the game’s four chapters you’ll be taking on the role of Mackenzie, a fledgling detective who has just received her first case. In the demo chapter, you’ll need to solve the mystery of stolen dreams, and in later chapters you’ll solve a disappearance, an assault and help a stranded person. There are also a series of side missions and a bonus escape the room mini-game.

What Touch Detective nails best is its implementation of in-app purchases. Instead of offering a quick glance at the game in a demo, you’ll get the entire first chapter for free, which, depending on your ability to solve absurd puzzles, will give you an hour or two of playtime. You can pick up the additional chapters individually for $3.99 each, or buy the whole pack for $8.99.

While the folks over at Telltale are busy pushing along the rebirth of adventure games and trying to drive the genre forward with logical puzzle elements, Touch Detective sticks to its roots and instead offers  idiotic puzzles that take absurd amounts of trial-and-error tapping to solve. For instance, in the first chapter, you’re tasked with repairing a butterfly net, which you have to do by combining it with a spider web. On no planet and at no age-range does this logic work. It plays to the genre’s roots and for fans of very early adventure games, the busted logic of Touch Detective won’t be as ridiculous as it is to new comers. Even still, nobody wants to relive the cat-hair moustache of Gabriel Knight 3.

Despite the niggling problem of logic-defying puzzles, Touch Detective is full of charm and wit. From the heavily lined artwork to the bizarre cast of characters, the game keeps itself interesting by offering you a world worth exploring. This comes to shape in the goofy dialogue, the hair brained internal monologues of Mackenzie and the amusing item descriptions.

The port from DS to iOS works well, with touch implementation working as naturally as you’d expect. Touch Detective does a good job of not feeling like a port and while it certainly could have been brought over in the same, awkward dual-screen setup of the original, Beeworks instead decided to utilize the bigger screen to its advantage. Subsequently, it looks and controls great and the art-style really shines.

It’s rare we get to make more than a passing mention on the writing in an iOS game, but Touch Detective, for all its faults, features dialogue and scenarios well worth comment. The actual overarching story isn’t particularly noteworthy, but the rest of the writing is enjoyable and might occasionally cause you to actually chuckle out loud. It’s weird in a way that few games can be and although slogging through hundreds of text bubbles is an art only a few can appreciate, it’s at least well worth the effort.

It’s unfortunate the puzzles in Touch Detective aren’t better, because the presentation of the game alone makes it worth checking out. The interface is one of the best in any adventure game released on iOS and the charm is so thick it’s hard not to get a little enjoyment out of playing it. If you have the tenacity to deal with the trial-and-error style of the puzzles, you’ll enjoy your time with it.

  • Touch Detective

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