Layton's Next Apprentice: Nelson Tethers
It's unfortunate then that the puzzles of this game often leave something to be desired. While minor complaints like a lack of information on the menu screen (such as inventory), or relatively large hit boxes on some doorways (a nuisance for Layton fans who are used to clicking everywhere in search of something new), there is one glaring issue that Puzzle Agent has. In a game that takes so much from Layton's handbook, it is disappointing that it does not have the complexity or variety that those puzzles have. Within the three hours it took me to finish the game, I realized I had to play multiple variations on the same puzzle several times. Many of the puzzles were easy as well, with the only challenge often being unclear directions. This lack of variety and clarity ends up being the game's biggest flaw, and it feels like the puzzles were often set aside in favor of developing the story.
The story is the real highlight of this game, alongside the wonderful artwork of Graham Annable. Telltale Games are masters of the craft when it comes to the stories in adventure games, and this one spins a yarn that will leave you hanging on by a thread. It is full of great humor and wonderful characters, many of whom are more than meets the eye. Nelson himself has a quick wit and a wry sense of humor that carries him throughout the story as a charming protagonist who is hoping to get his next big break. The voicing on the characters is well done also, and it feels like they are really channeling the northern Midwesterners (Yoopers) for a lot of their inspiration. However, as this is only a pilot release, that means many characters and parts of the story do not get the expansion that they deserve. Being a pilot, this does hold the potential for future releases which build on the world and puzzles this initial outing has set forth.
All things considered, I really enjoyed the time I spent with Puzzle Agent, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of puzzles, especially those of the Layton variety. As mentioned before, this is only a pilot game for Telltale's program, so if it is successful, I think we can look forward to seeing more adventures of the affable Nelson Tethers. If nothing else, this game deserves a purchase so that Telltale gets a chance to iterate on the idea and create the adventure that the Puzzle Agent deserves.