The level of cooperation in Blue Toad depends entirely on you as gamers, rather than the actual game itself. I believe that a true co-op game will be designed so that you are all in control and working together towards a common goal, this does not happen in Blue Toad. Instead, each player takes it in turn to take control of the game, they then interview a suspect and take on a puzzle solo. As a group you can decide to assist one another, but the in-game mechanics do not support this. I often spent time standing next to the TV pointing at what goes where, but how many of you have a friendly Samoza standing by?
The entire dynamic of the game will change depending on what type of person you play with; the supportive partner, or the overly competitive uncle. The friction is only enhanced by a series of question and answer sessions in the game. Periodically, the story will pause and each player in turn will be asked about what has happened so far, as a means of testing the players' skills. Do you work as one to get all the answers right, or try and scupper the chances of the other players?
With points being given out to winners and abuse to losers, what element is actually co-op? The experience depends on your choices as a group and not in Relentless Software's programming. I would have preferred a far more structured sense of cooperative gaming where you are explicitly included in every aspect of each other's game. Why not allow you all to choose the same suspect and claim victory as a group?
Although the cooperative aspects of Blue Toad leave little to be desired, the game itself is fun. With approximately 10-14 puzzles per act the game is not huge, but at $5 per episode, it still remains decent value. Graphically, the game impresses with cartoon visuals that sparkle in high definition, especially for a download exclusive game. The humor in the game is also very amusing and very British. The rude hotel owner and busy body old dear are classic British caricatures that work well in the environment of Little Riddle. The town itself is well designed, but it is a shame that you only get overview of the map and are not allowed to walk freely. Finally, the voice work is all done by one actor, he plays both the male and female characters to great effect. This gives the game the feel of being in a narrated crime novel from the likes of Agatha Christie.
As a puzzle game that can be played with up to 4 players The Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle is great fun. The quality graphics and fun atmosphere make it suitable for gamers and non-gamers to play alongside one another. As a cooperative experience it is hard to award Relentless Software's title a high score as they have seemingly done nothing to actually make people work together. However, the opportunity to work together is there, in an unofficial capacity. If you decide to work as one, the game is a challenging, but fun, murder mystery game that will have you chuckling along.
The Co-Op Experience:
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.