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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.