UK REVIEW--If there's one thing that Miss Marple has taught the world, it's that British village life is full of lies, deceit, and murder. Blue Toad Murder Files follows this tradition, telling the story of the village of Little Riddle in a puzzle-solving murder-mystery party game. Unfortunately, despite some well-designed puzzles, and great voice acting, Episode Two offers only an hour of gameplay for a relatively high price. Fans will enjoy the new characters and mystery to solve, but there's not enough content on offer to make it worth the cash.
Episode Two continues the journey of the Blue Toad detectives as they attempt to solve another mystery in Little Riddle. After identifying the murderer of the mayor in Episode One, the detectives begin to uncover a dark secret in the village, brought about by the burglary of Riddle Manor. It's your task to apprehend the burglar and identify links between the crime and the murder of the mayor.
As in the previous episode, up to four players take turns visiting various locations in Little Riddle, questioning suspects and solving puzzles--the aim being to correctly identify the perpetrator. Different locations are shown via an animated overhead map, and a suspect is available to question at each location, along with a puzzle to solve. You're awarded gold, silver, or bronze rosettes for solving puzzles quickly and in as few attempts as possible. You must also complete quick-fire rounds at numerous points throughout the game. These require you to recall some of the recent facts you have learned on the case and answer a multiple-choice question. For more on the gameplay, check out our Episode One review.
Puzzles are slightly more difficult this time around, so you'll have to work harder to achieve a gold rosette. The same sorts of riddles, counting games, and memory tests make an appearance, as well as more taxing spatial-awareness puzzles. These make the lack of a hints system even more lamentable, and your only option if you get well and truly stuck is to skip a puzzle entirely, leaving you to face the sarcastic wrath of the narrator as he says, "It's probably for the best." However, the puzzles are still well designed, and the themes behind them are inventive. One puzzle has you attempting to water plants using mathematics, while another puzzle sees you trying to identify Mrs. Gossip's prized teddy, Mister Fluffykins.
Many of the characters you question are familiar faces, having appeared in Episode One. These include the Cockney police officer Inspector Bragg and the chatty Mrs. Gossip. A host of new characters are also introduced, displaying the same eccentric British characteristics as previous villagers. You'll meet the spaced-out vicar, a butcher with a penchant for the word "scum," and Lady Snobbish, who is even more condescending than her name implies. As in the previous episode, the dialogue is well written and is injected with a good sense of British humour. The narration in particular seems to go a step further in insulting you and the village inhabitants. The hotel manager ends up being the butt of many jokes, with the narrator announcing that the manager reminds him "of that time I had a wart on my big toe."
The most fun you can have playing the game is with friends as you compete for rosettes, arguing about who the burglar is and trying to land the highest score at the end of the game. However, as in the previous episode, replayability is almost nonexistent, because the answers to the puzzles, the quick-fire questions, and the guilty suspect never change. The play time is still incredibly short at just under an hour. At £6.99 an episode, the price is steep, and with the game aiming for a total of six episodes, you'll end up paying just over £40 if you buy them all separately (discounts are available for buying episodes in pairs, with episodes one and two available for £9.99 in the UK).
Fans of the first episode of Blue Toad will find plenty to like in Episode Two. The quality of the voice acting remains high, the art style is endearing, and the story adds more questions about the mystery of Little Riddle, making you want to see how the next episode plays out. However, the same problems of short length, lack of a hints system, and next to no replayability make it difficult to recommend when there are other party games out there that offer a lot more value for the money.