Believe it or not, Tangle Tower is actually the third title in a series of quaint, kooky mystery games. Back in 2014, Detective Grimoire released on mobile devices, which is itself a sequel of a flash game of the same name. But if you’re worried about missing out on vital information before starting Tangle Tower, then don’t fret, as you can jump right into the story with no prior knowledge of the protagonists or previous plotlines. And you should jump in, too, because Tangle Tower is an excellent point-and-click adventure that boasts delightful puzzles with remarkably humourous dialogue and voice acting.
From the studio that introduced the brilliant Snipperclips! to the world, Tangle Tower stars Detectives Grimoire and Sally as they enter the titular tower to solve the mysterious murder of one Freya Fellow. Right from the start, Grimoire and Sally bounce off one another wonderfully well, with Grimoire’s playful banter a good contrast to Sally’s more deadpan, sarcastic nature. No matter who you talk to, or which objects you choose to investigate, you can be sure you’ll get a few laughs out of their interactions throughout the game.
Starting outside Tangle Tower, you’re free to move from one location to the next with little restriction, but it’s always wise to thoroughly investigate the room or area before moving ahead, as it can be quite easy to miss important clues. Utilising either the touch screen in handheld mode (which, in our opinion, is the best way to play this game), or the Joy-Con’s motion controls in docked mode, you can take a closer look at pretty much anything of interest within Tangle Tower, whether it’s an obscure statue, a pot of paints, a bedside table, or a musical instrument. Most items simply trigger dialogue between Grimoire and Sally, but there are some that will require closer inspection, and it’s here that the game’s puzzles come into play.
The puzzles in Tangle Tower are excellent. They’re not quite as head-scratching as some of the brainteasers in, say, a Professor Layton title, but they’re complicated enough to keep you busy for a good few minutes. They’re remarkably original, too; there’s one puzzle that will require you to move a set of four magnifying glasses in order to create the shape of a key from a set of seemingly random shapes, and another that asks you to rotate a miniature solar system in order to match up the shadows cast by the planets to the lines marked on a wooden board. They all make great use of the Switch’s touch screen, and if you happen to get stumped at any point, Grimoire and Sally will verbally muse over the puzzle, often giving you, the player, invaluable hints to proceed. The only issue is that once you’re done with the game, there’s little reason to go back.
Of course, you can’t solve a murder mystery without interviewing witnesses and/or suspects. It’s here where Tangle Tower really shines, but also where it falls down ever so slightly. The interactions between the detectives and inhabitants of Tangle Tower are genuinely hilarious, and the characters all have brilliant, unique personalities brought to life by superb voiceover work. Unfortunately, though, the interactions can drag on after a while, and the more clues you uncover, the more potential avenues of interrogation you can explore – it’s impressive just how in-depth it gets, but it would have been a bit better if it were streamlined down a bit.
Occasionally, the interactions will also trigger another puzzle to solve based on the information provided to you by the characters. These take the shape of statements, with missing words or phrases that you’ll need to fill with the selection available to you at the time. We really enjoyed these puzzles, as it requires you to think back on previous conversations in order to put together the most logical statement possible. There’s also potential to string together some downright ridiculous sentences, which is always great fun.
If you have played the previous titles in the series, you’ll notice straight away that Tangle Tower looks undeniably more graphically impressive than its older siblings. The character design is excellent, and the handcrafted environments are full of charm, with every room within Tangle Tower completely distinct from the others. The animation is also pretty great, although admittedly only limited to the characters themselves. It would have been nice to see some animation in the environment, like leaves blowing in the wind, or pond water rippling, but we’re clutching at straws here. The soundtrack is similarly impressive and complements the excellent voiceover work wonderfully. The music somehow manages to sound both uplifting and mysterious, and although it repeats some tracks quite a lot, we never felt ourselves getting fatigued by them.
Tangle Tower is an exemplary addition to the point-and-click genre, providing superb puzzles and very well written dialogue, backed up by some of the finest voiceover work in recent memory. A few of the character interactions may drag on a bit too long in places as you try and uncover every piece of evidence available to you, and there’s little reason to play through the game multiple times. But to be honest, these are very minor gripes considering just how much fun we had in the company of Detectives Grimoire and Sally.