Midnight in Cat Town and on the way to another murder. That’s the life for Inspector Waffles – a brilliant, if extremely jaded, detective.
But this is no ordinary murder, as you’ll quickly find out. The victim is a high ranking CEO, and the case is utterly bizarre. Across this four hour point-and-click adventure, you’ll be interrogating suspects, picking up items of interest and… dealing with cultists and giant death lasers.
Like most games of this nature, Inspector Waffles follows the formula perfected by the Monkey Island series. There’s all the references, fourth wall breaks and puns you’ve come to expect, alongside a weird and wonderful cast of characters and a range of puzzles to solve.
Make no mistake though. This is no cheap imitation. Inspector Waffles stands apart from the rest, and is an excellent game in its own right.
For a start, it’s brilliantly written. There’s the appropriate level of puns and references baked in and they don’t feel forced nor do they detract from the tale being told. Speaking of which, the story itself is remarkably gripping. On your search for the truth, you’ll be visiting places all over Cat Town, interrogating suspects and collecting items as you go. There’ll be plenty of twists and turns, occasional dips into the utterly bizarre, and a climactic conclusion for players to experience.
Of course, no good story is complete without a strong cast of characters that are easy to connect with. Luckily, Inspector Waffles has that too.
It starts with the main man himself. Waffles is a troubled character – extremely good at his job, but haunted by a past traumatic episode that left his old partner in a wheelchair. A lone wolf (or cat, rather), he prefers nothing more than flouting procedure and drinking strong milk at his local pub. He sounds unlikable, but his inner thoughts and interactions with the world and the characters around him are often hilarious and endear him to the player. And we also see him grow as a character too. By the game’s close, he has come to appreciate teamwork and the value of others, and has been able to move on from the past.
There are strong supporting characters too, like Waffles’ sidekick, Spotty the Sniffer Dog and Police Chief Patches. The former is the exact polar opposite of our hero. He’s eager to do the best job possible and seems totally oblivious to Waffles’ disdain towards him. The latter has just two loves: food, and doing absolutely no work whatsoever.
As with any game of this nature, there’s the standard fare of combining objects in weird and unusual ways to clear obstacles in your path, like putting a magnet on a stick or pouring coffee all over a key.
But this often takes a backseat to interrogating witnesses – you are a detective after all! As you move through the city, you’ll uncover clues and items and you can use these to unlock new dialogue options and lines of inquiry that will progress the story. As you discover more and more items, more dialogue options open up with more characters, and you might find yourself going back to the same person multiple times. It’s a neat feature that fits well thematically. And it’s well designed too insofar that Waffles will tell you when a suspect no longer has anything new to say to avoid you wandering in circles.
There is nothing that is so out there that you’ll end up being stuck for hours, and the story can be progressed through a bit of logical thinking and experimentation. But if you’re still feeling stuck, you can always call your mum for help. Yes. Inspector Waffles’ hint system comes in the form of the titular character’s mother, who used to be a brilliant detective in her own right. The hints she gives are usually pretty blatant, and are a great way to get your investigation moving again. Of course, she won’t give them until she’s checked to make sure you’re okay or when you’ll be next dropping by to visit her.
If you’re half decent at point-and-click adventures, then you probably won’t need to use this option. I’d implore you to use it anyway. The dialogue is different every time depending on where you’re at in the story, and it’s clear a lot of effort has gone into making it feel natural and relevant to the story.
It’s hard to find any real faults with Inspector Waffles apart from a few minor gripes. I would have liked a way to drag items from the inventory to use on people directly, as it currently feels clunky to have to sit through the same conversations over and over just to ask about new items. It’s also a little too short, with a full playthrough only lasting around four hours or so. The fact that there are hidden collectables and an apparent secret ending does go some way to rectifying this however, as they ensure the game is good for a second playthrough at the very least.
So what do we have with Inspector Waffles? An absolutely brilliant point-and-click adventure. The story, characters and overall dialogue are all brilliantly written, and the puzzles encourage exploration and experimentation. The interrogations are a great vehicle for moving the story along in a natural way, as is the game’s hint system. I didn’t go in expecting much, but came out feeling pleasantly surprised and thoroughly entertained. I’d definitely recommend picking this one up.
Final verdict: almost purr-fect. Come on, you didn’t think I’d last this whole article without one terrible cat pun, did you?
You can pick up Inspector Waffles on Xbox by visiting the Xbox Store