Developer: Vasily Povalyaev
Price: Free [$3/£3 full unlock]
Size: 558 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Games like The Room, The Witness, and anything by Rusty Lake could all be described as whodunnit puzzlers, packaging fiendish logical conundrums within an overarching mystery narrative.
While Tiny Room Story: Town Mystery doesn’t hit the same heights, it definitely belongs to the same lineage. Its own modest take splits the puzzling into a series of diorama-like locations, which you then dive into like cracking open a doll’s house.
The prompt for your private detective’s adventure is a letter from your father asking for help. Returning to your oddly deserted home town of Redcliff, you soon catch scent of a conspiracy, with a breadcrumb trail of riddles and environmental puzzles leading you ever deeper.
The free first act alone will lead you through a ransacked home, a creepy church, and a dank sewer systems en route to hunting down your missing dad.
The puzzles themselves lack the toybox intricacy of The Room or the thematic through-line of The Witness, and bear closer resemblance to the classic point and click adventures of old. You’ll typically find random items littered around each environment, then use them to negotiate a blockage elsewhere.
Negotiating these isometric environments is a case of swiping to rotate so that you can examine all four walls in each static room. Simply tap on objects to interact, or doorways to move to a new location.
This system generally works well, but we did encounter a few instances where an interactive object was positioned too close to a door. On our iPhone 12 mini’s tiny screen, we found ourselves jumping back and forth between rooms repeatedly rather than actually doing what we wanted.
As you delve deeper into the acts, the puzzles will pick up in challenge and complexity. You’ll start to encounter more abstract self-contained puzzles that, at their best, require real lateral thinking.
At their worst, however, they can be way too vague, their line of logic too tenuous, and the can devolve into too much trial and error. Thankfully, the developer includes links to walkthrough videos for each act. It’s a thoughtful provision, but it also feels like a bit of a concession that not everyone is going to have the patience to play through the game as it was intended.
This is a well proportioned adventure, especially if you opt to spend a few dollars to unlock the second and third acts, which will also eliminate the ads. All in all, while Tiny Room Story: Town Mystery might not be up there with the whodunnit puzzler greats, it’s a varied and generous-spirited effort with cool art and some inventive moments.
- Neat diorama art style
- Generously proportioned adventure
- Well implemented walkthrough videos
- Puzzle design uneven
- Touch controls occasionally falter