Review By: Andrew Joy
|# Of Players:||1|
Case File #DS17:
It was the middle of October when I got the call. It was my old chief. We’d parted ways once before, but I still help him when I can, though there is nothing really binding...and by that I mean payment. Just favors, you know the type. Anyways, it seemed strange things were afoot and he needed help on a case, but fast. He was sending an envelope to me, top priority, which contained all the evidence I’d need. As this was strictly unofficial, I’d need to send it back before anybody knew it was gone, so time was of the essence. I knew it would take a few days for it to arrive, but I couldn’t just sit around twiddling my thumbs, so I did a little research. Turns out I would be playing guardian angel to a private investigator, but not the usual sort. Instead of a gruff 40-year old with a 5 o’clock shadow that looked more like 6:30 and the stench of whiskey following him around like a cloud, I’d be getting a little girl, and the only thing following her was a walking, talking piece of fungus. Her name was Mackenzie, but most people knew her as...Touch Detective. Something told me this wasn’t going to be your everyday babysitting job. Here are the facts:
A month after the death of her father, young Mackenzie takes over his well-known detective agency. Under the guidance of Cromwell, the odd family butler, and with the help of Funghi, her mushroom companion, Mackenzie must solve four difficult cases in order to be inducted into the Great Detectives Society. Of course, with a town full of circus freaks (no, really), strange happenings are in no short supply in Touch Detective. Most of your cases come from Mackenzie’s air-headed friend Penelope, and often times she serves as your key witness, but being off in her own little world you’ll often have to read between the lines with her. Also, every time a new case seems to fall in your lap, so does Chloe, a rival detective. However, she isn’t much better than Penelope, and she serves more as Deus ex Machina than competition. While she may be helpful to younger players, for the rest of us, she merely serves as a necessary evil, providing essential bits of clues that (whether you needed the hint or not) the story could not progress without.
Unfortunately, if I have but one gripe with Touch Detective, it is that the game relies too much on moments such as that. Even if you have a pretty good idea of who the culprit is, you cannot pursue it outside of the game's oh-so-linear path. A lot of times, getting the case to end is a matter of being in the right place at the right time, showing a specific item to someone or even using an item a very specific way – at one point, I became stuck even though I knew what I had to do. I just wasn’t standing in the right spot to do it. While I suppose this is the nature of adventure games, it would have been nice to see a little more freedom. Really, more than anything, it would have been nice to have a simple help menu for those tough moments, even if they gave such nondescript clues as "try asking around" or "try using an item," that way you’d at least know whether or not you were on the right track. As it is though, if you do get stuck, it is usually only a matter of using Funghi, who acts as a sort of utility belt. Funghi can use items in a unique fashion, go places you can’t, and sometimes even let you know that you are on the right track...he has a sort of sixth sense that lets you know on occasion if there is an item or something you need to interact with nearby. Another alternative, though you usually have some previous indication in the story that you need to go there, is going to Cromwell, as he will oftentimes supply you with necessary items or advice.
With no health, score or time limit to worry about, Touch Detective has a very simple HUD, and most everything is onscreen at once. To use an item, just tap it and interact with someone or something, and at the times when you need to inspect or combine items, just double tap it to bring it up full screen. However, you won’t need to do that very often, as apart from feeling around, there isn’t much to solving a case and the main game rarely gives you the chance to guess at the answer. So you spend your time whisking your stylus across the screen, and Mackenzie will rush right over to an item that can be interacted with, opening it, picking it up, or whatever else. So, in that sense, the game isn’t very challenging mentally, though it can really test one's patience. It does pay to stick it out, though, as solving each case unlocks a certain amount of bonus content, from a radio that plays songs from the game to a map full of extra quests. The bonus content is more fun than the main game, but unfortunately doesn’t last very long. There are a variety of tasks that you can perform, from pop quizzes to finding things for the townspeople, and they range in difficulty and time consumption. There aren’t very many standouts, though, but some of the more challenging ones include taking pictures of landmarks and a game of hide and seek (if anyone finds Shorty please let me know!).
Posted: 2006-10-23 21:02:07 PST