It's been six years since former LucasArts employees founded Telltale Games to focus on episodic gaming and adventure games like Sam and Max and Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People. At a small press event in San Francisco, one of the cofounders of Telltale, Kevin Bruner, announced a new game called Puzzle Agent, which will be published and distributed under the Telltale Pilot Program. Bruner explained that the program will be an outlet for creative minds to make unusual games that may often go ignored by other publishers.
Puzzle Agent is a puzzle game compiled of brain teasers, similar to the Professor Layton games, but set in the snowy Fargo-like town of Scoggins, Minnesota. You play as a lone FBI agent, Nelson Tethers, who is part of the underutilized department of puzzle investigation. You're sent to this town, with a strong Nordic heritage, to investigate an eraser-manufacturing plant, which has halted its production of erasers. Telltale has teamed up with Graham Annable of Grickle, a cartoonist and animator who provided some of the animation and narrative with his unique perspective. The simplistic art style and subtle soundtrack set the dark and mysterious tone for the game. In the cutscene we saw, Nelson walked into a small diner and glanced around curiously. It didn't look like the locals were all that welcoming, and they seemed to be hiding something. As Nelson walked out of the diner, he came across a creepy red gnome with a pointy hat that poked its face out from behind a snowmobile and then disappeared as suddenly as he appeared. The music was what made the scene striking because there was very little of it. There was the right amount sound to punctuate the scene just enough to make us feel uneasy.
As you go through the game, you'll have to talk to the townspeople, as well as gather clues to be able to access the eraser factory. We were given one example of a brain teaser, which was about finding out who won an arm-wrestling match. By reading the statements from four different women, you need to piece the hints together to find out who was arm wrestling whom. Hints come in the form of pre-chewed gum, (Nelson thinks best while chewing gum), which you collect as you explore the world of Puzzle Agent. You can use up to three hints per puzzle, but once you solve it, you'll get a performance evaluation that indicates how many tries you've made and how many hints you've used. Your rank is tracked as you go through the game, so if you want to brag about your expert puzzle-solving skills, then try not to guess too much and chew less gum.
Puzzle Agent will be available this June on WiiWare and the PC, as well as the iPhone and iPad. Preorders will be available, so stay tuned to GameSpot for more information as Telltale will be making the announcement next Tuesday.