Developer: Goloso Games
Release Date: 14th October 2021 (Switch)
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Inspector Waffles is an old school point-and-click detective adventure from one-man dev studio, Goloso Games. Set in the aptly named Cat Town, the City may seem all cute and fluffy, but it has a dark underbelly just waiting for a good old rub.
There’s been a Purrder
Inspector Waffles harks back to classic point-and-click games. There’s no moving around the mean streets of Cat Town, just good old-fashioned cursor action. I’m reviewing the game on the Switch, mainly handheld, (which has the advantage of touch-screen implementation) but it works just as well when docked.
If you’re looking for a more modern take on the genre, check out our review of No Longer Home. It’s a new point-and-click with a big heart and serious Kentucky Route Zero vibes.
Are you looking forward to giving Inspector Waffles a go? Give us a shout in the comments below. Played the original PC version? Let us know how you think it compares.
Taking control of the titular detective, you’re called out to investigate the brutal murder of Fluffy, the esteemed CEO of Box Furnitures. Waffles is reluctantly paired up with sniffer dog and all-round good boy, Spotty, after his former partner, Pancakes suffered a major injury on a job which Waffles blames himself for.
The core gameplay loop is simple but addictive. You gather clues by interacting with objects, inspecting and combining them with a simple drag and drop. Items are kept in a basic inventory and each new morsel of intelligence is automatically recorded in your notebook, which you can toggle with a tap of a button. Once you gather up enough evidence, you can interrogate witnesses or potential suspects by selecting a clue in your notebook and going to town on their alibi. Be careful though, if you don’t have enough proof to back it up, you’ll run out of questions to ask. Cat got your tongue, eh?
When you first boot up the game, you can choose between the Default or Challenge difficulty. The former highlights important dialogue in yellow, while the latter simply doesn’t. You could probably do without the hints as the puzzles aren’t particularly challenging to begin with. But that doesn’t matter. It’s still really satisfying when you combine a skateboard wheel and a screwdriver to get a makeshift door handle that opens a concealed room at the crime scene. Unfortunately, there’s a big spike in difficulty towards the end of the game where the puzzles feel needlessly obtuse and lack the ingeniousness of the earlier challenges.
Inspector Waffles on
For the most part, the dialogue is funny and well-written, littered with more cat puns than Cat Puns Weekly. Not all jokes are created equal, though. While there are some excellent gags that show real thought (a cat called Schrödinger is wanted dead AND alive), others are repeated over and over until they’re about as funny as a morning hairball.
The star of the show is definitely the crime-fighting duo; Waffles with his hard-boiled wisecracks and Spotty’s childlike innocence compliment each other perfectly, making for a surprisingly emotional narrative arc. The game really sings when we’re with these two. Unfortunately, we cut away too many times to follow Chief Patches – an incompetent buffoon whose only thing is food. Patches rarely says anything that moves the story on, instead waffling tangentially about pastries and candy. You feel the pace slam on the brakes each time we’re with him, making the game feel uneven and cumbersome in places.
Graphics & Audio
Inspector Waffles is a real looker. It’s bold, colourful pixel-art is great at conjuring atmosphere; from the dimly lit dive-bar, The Metal Heart, to a seedy flat-block on the edge of town. I played both handheld and docked and didn’t encounter any graphical issues or frame-rate drops.
The cats pyjamas though, is the music. Sultry Jazz echoes out of the night, transporting you to your own Film Noir. The lead sax melody feels like it’s been passed through an 8-bit filter, a nostalgia inducing nod to it’s point-and-click predecessors.
Inspector Waffles is a breezy, light-hearted game that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The core gameplay loop, for the most part, is a lot of fun but it’s held back by an uneven difficulty curve and some frustratingly obtuse puzzles. Cat Town really comes alive thanks to the quality pixel art and killer soundtrack, but it suffers from pacing issues – particularly when you finally crack the case which is anticlimactic to say the least. Inspector Waffles ain’t purrfect but you’ll have an enjoyable few hours sinking your claws into it. [Insert cat pun here].
Disclaimer: A review code was kindly provided by the publisher.