This is a damn good cup of coffee.
Who would've figured the FBI would have a puzzle division? And even stranger, that it would actually come in handy someday? Nelson Tethers, that's who. The hero of Puzzle Agent is a man with a pale complexion, a knack for puzzles, and an addiction to gum. The White House's eraser supply has run out, so Nelson is sent to the quiet town of Scoggins, MN in order to find out exactly what's going on. After a couple of puzzles, Tethers finds realizes he’s in deeper than he thought.
With a mix of Twin Peaks, Fargo, and a touch of X-Files, Puzzle Agent is a hilarious game. The writing is excellent, supported by strong voice acting. The art, handled by comic book artist Graham Annable, is simple, but extremely emotive and funny. The Twin Peaks references go a little further than the rest, especially toward the later parts of the story and with a particular tune that plays at the town’s diner.
The puzzles you'll come across in the game are pretty similar to what fans of the Professor Layton series are used to. There's a healthy mix of rotating block puzzles, math problems and word games, all supported by a friendly hint system is fueled by Tethers’ love for gum.
Strangely, some of the puzzles in the game can be exploited through certain interface mechanics. Objects in puzzles that have you connecting items tend to glue themselves together once you find the correct connection. If you happen to be holding an item and just randomly drop it next to other pieces lying about, the chances of them sticking together are pretty generous, which can turn particularly difficult puzzles into a button-mashing affair.
Unfortunately, the ability to exploit puzzles isn't the only problem with this game if you choose to play it on the Playstation 3. The point-and-click controls of the PC version of Puzzle Agent don't translate well at all to the dual shock controller. By pressing the right shoulder button, you get to see a list of buttons in the environment, which can be selected to move around, talk to people or start puzzles.
The real problems start once you get into the puzzles. The simplest point-and-click interface turns into a nightmare once you're required to painfully select tabs or buttons, one by one, with the directional pad. There's one puzzle in particular, towards the end of the game, in which you have to connect electrical wires that's a total pain to complete with the PS3 controller, due to how the connections are laid out on screen.
Puzzle Agent is a fun game if you decide to play it on anything other than the PS3. It isn't a particularly system demanding title, much like its Telltale brethren, so it runs on a just about any modern day computer. Sure, you'll be missing out on trophy addiction by skipping the PS3 version, but you'll save yourself a lot of frustration.