Touch Detective is a solid port of a DS game, though the storytelling is a little long-winded
As far as ports go, there aren’t many better paths to take than Nintendo DS to smartphone. With Nintendo relying so heavily on touch (albeit with a stylus), it’s easy-peasy to move a game from one place to the other. This is especially true for a game like Touch Detective which, as the name suggests, relied purely on touch. Now this puzzle solving mystery game has made the leap to iOS, fully and completely intact.
You’ll be taking on the role of Mackenzie, and will be tasked with solving puzzles and closing cases in your weirdo-filled town. The game has 4 cases total (one being free, and the rest pay as you go), and has you solving slightly supernatural cases like finding a dream robber. In addition to that you’ll have your talking fungai companion along for the puzzle solving ride. Yea, it’s all pretty weird.
Touch Detective is a hunt by pixel game through and through. The game makes pretty big leaps in logic as it presents its puzzles, and very rarely gives you any decent clues to work with to get at the solution they’re expecting. As such, you end up tapping everything on the screen to get the game to trigger that it found something of interest. Then you can set about figuring out what’s interesting about it.
What that means is that you’ll spend most of the investigation time in the dark motive wise and just attempt to find and combine items to sort of stumble into a solution. It kind of reminds me of the old school point and click adventure games like Secret of Monkey Island or King’s Quest, which probably says a lot about the fact that I didn’t hate the game. There’s something about that style of gameplay that just interests me.
My one complaint about Touch Detective is just the amount of time you spend in-between puzzles, just tapping the screen to move the dialogue along. The cut-scenes are lengthy to begin with, requiring a tap after each line of dialogue – but that length is made WAY longer than it would ever need to be by inserting a mega-ton of lines like “Hmmm.” “Oh!” “Oh yea.” or even “…….”
I can’t even tell you how quickly that gets old when you’re tapping the screen as fast as possible and it still takes 10 minutes to finish it. Sadly there’s no way to just skip it altogether either, so once you’re in it you’re just trapped there. With characters that take way too long to get to every point they make, there were times that tapping through the dialogue was more tiring than playing the game. Which is all a shame really, because at its core I really liked the storyline and the characters – I just wish they’d get to the point quicker.
One of the great selling features of the game is how much they give you for free on the front end. You can download and play through Chapter 1 (out of 4) totally for free, with additional chapters available in-app separately or bundled together at a discount. It’s a great way to get a feel for the characters and the world they live in before plunking down any real cash. The pixel hunt gameplay isn’t for everyone, so it’s nice to get a tangible look at it for free.
Touch Detective is really going to be hit or miss with people. The characters and stories are totally weird and nonsensical, which I found charming but I could see how they’d turn some off. The crux of the game revolves around you tap-tap-tapping all over the screen trying to find objects that do god knows what. I enjoyed the game for the most part, but it’s bound to be polarizing – so it’s a good thing you get to play a good chunk for free first.