Relentless Software are best known for their Buzz! quiz games but most recently found success with their hilarious crime solving murder mystery, Murder Files. Their latest title targets iOS and Android and is again aimed at fans of crime drama. We’ve been spending some time with the title ahead of its release so here’s our impressions of the first chapter.
The Trace was described to us as a crime solving murder mystery puzzle adventure game. It’s a far more serious take on the genre than Murder Files. Gone are the bright coloured cartoony visuals in favour of realistic environments.
You play as Detective Sam Pearce of the Baltimore Police. To help you along the way you can also call on Alex, your forensic lab technician partner.
You start the first chapter as you arrive at the scene of the first crime. There’s been a death at a car repair shop. Your job is to assess the scene and look for clues and evidence to determine if this is an accident, suicide or if there is something more sinister going on.
The action is viewed from a first person perspective and makes great use of touch controls. A simple tap is all you need to move. Swiping lets you look around. Tapping on some objects gives you descriptions of them and the camera will zoom in on those that are of interest. For example tapping a desk will position your view in front of it so you can get a better look.
The controls are also very intuitive so you can swipe to open or close the drawers, use door handles, open cupboards and pull cords on lights. Items that might be useful get added to your inventory such as keys, tools and evidence. When using these you simply open your inventory and drag the item onto the scene. You might them need to swipe to turn a key or move in a circular motion to use a screwdriver.
Some objects contain hidden evidence such as fingerprints or DNA. These need to be scanned with your forensic scanner and some need to be sent back to Alex for processing. When examining items you can rotate them and interact with them. For example a wallet can be viewed from all angles and you can examine the contents such as ID cards.
Puzzles also feature that must be solved in order to progress. Examples of these include cracking a safe, gaining access to a PC and working out how to get into a locked room.
Each crime scene is essentially one big puzzle and there are a bunch of questions that need answering which you uncover as you investigate. The game gives a visual representation of these as a diagram where they link together. Each question has information attached to it that you need to uncover.
As you find evidence it is up to you to link it to the questions in order to solve them. To complete the crime scene you must discover all the evidence and have solved the questions. It’s a clever system and it feels rewarding as you piece everything together.
We really enjoyed playing through the first chapter of The Trace and are now working our way through the more complex crime scenes that follow. It’s an interesting game and it is clear that there has been a lot of thought gone into it. We’re hooked as we move towards solving the mystery behind it.
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We feel Relentless Software have put together another cracking title. If you’re a fan of crime drama and fancy yourself as a bit of a Sherlock Holmes then The Trace should definitely be on your wanted list.
The Trace will be available tomorrow (March 26th) for iPhone and iPad for a cost of £3.99. Android owners will be able to track it down shortly afterwards.
Update: You can now read EF’s review of The Trace.