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Touch Detective

I had high hopes for this rather pervertedly named DS game. Not in that it’s not a game for perverts – I haven’t quite sunk to UK Resistance‘s level – but that it’s actually quite, quite crap. The art direction is good, so too is much of the animation and there is some humour in there that I wish in hindsight I didn’t snigger at, solely because I don’t want to be encouraging myself that this is a game worth playing.

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Touch Detective sees you in charge of MacKensie, a young girl detective, who lives in a rather large looking house with her butler (what has happened to her parents, we don’t know). Four cases are there to be solved, along with a number of other small bonus puzzles, but all of which are inexplicably obscure and quite fantasy-driven. A graphic puzzle-sovling game, it could be seen as similar to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, except substantially lacking in connective cases, a decent story, decent humour and decent puzzles. The puzzles themselves are quite obscure, leading to the dreaded last resort of systematically combining items together and/or throwing items at all the NPCs until somthing happens (GamesFAQs, I thank you). There’s just nothing to connect with the protagonist to make you care about her either. There’s little backstory, and you learn more about the detective’s girlfriends more so that MacKensie. That’s just not right in my opinion; you’re made to play someone for the entire length of the game and you don’t learn much more about yourself than when you started. Oh well, tell a lie, the top screen can be viewed to read MacKensie’s thoughts. But they are so pointless and worthless that, when you find out that you’re skipping through much of the dialogue without noticing the though bubbles, you really don’t give a s***.

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When you solve puzzles, there’s not much to hint as to what you should be looking to do next. When you’re left to randomly tap at the screen to see if it provokes anything, say an object to pick up or an interactive bit of scenery, you’ll find that the pathfinding is shocking. In fact, the mentioning of pathfinding in this genre is probably quite unique but Touch Detective shows that when it’s not done properly, it leads to a lot of frustration. When you tap on something on the other side of the room, you expect the detective to make her way over there, negotiating objects in the way. Most of the time though, this doesn’t work. If an A-to-B path is blocked by background scenery, the game might as well play a ‘**** you’ audio for all its worth. Really, it doesn’t even try to convince you that it’s attempting to negotiate the objects in the room – MacKensie moves, hits something, and stops.

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The faults became even worse during the second case, but for the sake of reviewing, I knew I had to complete the main game for my view to be valid. Touch Detective is terrible in all the ways that make an adventure-puzzler (like the aforementioned Phoenix Wright, or Monkey Island, or Grim Fandango, or etc.) worth its salt. Go spend your £20 on Cluedo, because at least then you’re controlling the pathfinding.

2 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2007.

Gentle persuasion

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