Puzzle Agent

Common Sense Media says

A quirky and challenging puzzle-driven mystery.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

This quirky game tells of an FBI-like agent responsible for solving puzzles. There may be no clear message to the story, but the game itself inspires players to use their brains and think strategically.


Positive role models

Nelson Tethers is a bookish, but likable character. His job as a puzzle agent requires a keen intellect.


Ease of play

The game's puzzles can be quite tricky but you can ask for hints to help you through. The point-and-click controls are very simple.


At one point in the game the lead character draws his gun and shoots at magical garden gnomes -- but they're not hurt. Players don't do the shooting either, as it's an in-game cinematic.

Not applicable

The words "damn" and "damned" can be heard in the game.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

An old man can be seen smoking a pipe in the game.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this game is safe for players of all ages -- though some of the puzzles might be too difficult for younger gamers. The storyline is more quirky than scary, but some of the creepy music and atmosphere might be a tad much for little kids. But this "Everyone"-rated game doesn't really contain anything to be concerned about, other than the word "damn" and the main character shooting at (and missing) some prancing garden gnomes.

Parents say

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Kids say

What's it about?

PUZZLE AGENT, a downloadable PC/Mac game, delivers thought-provoking logic puzzles, wrapped up in a mystery and presented with a quirky animation style. The game might be best described as a cross between Nintendo’s Professor Layton series and a Coen Brothers film (think Fargo), with some Nordic folklore mixed in for good measure. You play as the bookish Nelson Tethers, the sole agent who works for the U.S. Department of Puzzle Research, called on assignment to Scoggins, Minnesota, to unravel a chilling mystery: Why the local eraser factory has been shut down! As you walk around this snowy town (population: 754) and interact with the odd townsfolk, you’ll be tasked with solving various puzzles to push forward in your investigation.

Is it any good?


While not a flawless adventure, Puzzle Agent is great pick for players seeking a cranial workout -- and a refreshing change from the flood of unoriginal games sold today. Puzzle-solving makes up the bulk of the gameplay, and there are no shortage of head-scratching tasks to complete. Puzzles include piecing together ripped paper to read what’s on it; deciphering codes and matching colors; rotating pipes, aligning fuses, and picking locks; studying surveillance videos; and examining a school of fish to deduce which one has a key in its mouth. Occasionally, the puzzle instructions aren’t very clear or the hints won’t reveal enough information (or might just repeat the previous hint). And while some puzzles feel too easy, others can be quite difficult. Shortcomings aside, it’s hard not to fall for the game’s charm. Responsible for the distinctive art style is creative director Graham Annable, based on his indie comic work Grickle. Puzzle Agent is a fun, affordable and challenging computer game that will likely satiate puzzle fans. Note: An Apple iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch version will be available in early August, followed by a Nintendo WiiWare version.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the ways in which Puzzle Agent is different from so many other games today. Do you like its quirkiness? Or is it too different for you? 

  • How do you feel about using hints in a puzzle game? Are you glad to have the help when you need it? Or do you feel like you've cheated yourself when you resort to using a clue to solve a challenge?

Game details

Platforms:Windows, Mac
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Telltale Games
Release date:July 14, 2010
ESRB rating:E for Mild Language, Mild Violence, Use of Tobacco (Mac, Windows)

This review of Puzzle Agent was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written bydr duck October 8, 2010

An EXTERMLY good game, and EXTREMLY short.

Its fun, but took me 3 hours to beat.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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