Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent – A Review of the new game from Telltale

Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent from Telltale Games

Over the past few years, Telltale Games has been a focal point in the resurgence of point-and-click adventure games, and Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent is a prime example of why. In it, you play Nelson Tethers FBI agent with the Department of Puzzle Research. You are tasked with investigating the strange goings-on in the small isolated town of Scoggins, Minnesota.

A Best of E3 2010 award winner, Puzzle Agent is the first in Telltale’s new pilot program. Designed to allow Telltale to bring more experimental and creative ideas to market, pilot games are developed with a much smaller, but dedicated team. The popularity of the resulting titles will determine whether they continue on as a series. It seems like a unique way to deliver content and gives both the developer and players an opportunity to dip their toes in a lot of different waters. If Puzzle Agent is any indicator, the program should be a resounding success.

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Brainchild of Graham Annable, Canadian animator whose shorts are a popular staple on youTube, and loosely based on his Grickle series, Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent creates an environment full of quirky humor and occasional creepy moments. Graham’s trademark simple charcoal sketch style is evident throughout the game and adds to its otherworldly feel. You almost get the sense that Nelson Tethers lives in a parallel universe, just two steps away from our own, where puzzles are common enough in investigations to warrant their own department in the FBI. Maybe Robert Langdon from Dan Brown’s novels lives there too. The music further ingrains the uneasy feeling that everything is not quite right in Nelson Tethers’ world.

nelson tethers special agent indie game from telltale games screen

The dozens of puzzles needed to solve the mystery are mostly of the visual type requiring you to shift, turn, and connect objects in different ways in order to further the plot. There are a few logic puzzles as well. Don’t expect to get bogged down in a sudoku or crossword page, at least not in this initial installment. Each puzzle is enough to tease the brain, without frying any cells. Luckily, you can collect used gum off surfaces to chew and gain hints (Yes, I know. Gross.). This isn’t likely to be one of those games where you get frustrated and go running to an online walkthrough.

You’ll probably finish the game in three or four hours and I was a little disappointed in the conclusion, but those are to be expected in Telltale’s episodic format. Needless to say, I didn’t get enough and am looking forward to the further adventures of Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent. Check it out for the PC/Mac on Telltale’s site or Steam or purchase it on iTunes for your iPhone or iPad.

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