Relentless Software; £3.99; iOS

The Trace is point and click fun with a twisted artistry. It's the kind of game that some of us love, some of us who spent days making sure we completed Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments entirely, who love the action of deciding which clue fits where. Not in a haphazard, guess and hope kind of way, but in a thought-through storytelling way.

Through the eyes of Detective Pierce you take on the case of a possible suicide that, with your keen nose for crime and impressive ability to push your finger on a screen, starts to look awfully fishy. With the help of your intrepid switchboard gal, Alex, a multiple homicide starts to unravel in front of you. Look around the crimes scenes, pick up things, open drawers, move paintings, and see what you can find out. Create questions with your snooping and answer them with more snooping, who doesn't secretly want to look through everyone else's lives anyway?

 

The game is put together well, the art looks nice, the different motions add something that would have just been pointing and clicking otherwise; it's a good detective game to play on the iPad. The music is perfect, with headphones on you get sucked into the feel of the place, though it was slightly disappointing that Pierce and Alex, though on the phone to each other pretty constantly, weren't voiced. With all the general foley around it took away from the immersion that the main protagonist and his mobile sidekick didn't speak.

It kept me interested and going until the end of the case, managing to straddle the line between a game that is too obvious and one that is so difficult you’re touching wildly around every room pretty well. Apart from the voices the only other disappointment was our short the game was, there are three areas to explore and the whole game won't take you more than two hours to complete. A quick scan of the reviews already on the App Store finds a lot of people with the same grievance – yes the game was great, but for £3.99 don't we get more?

It's all part of a larger argument about game pricing now, how do you make a profitable game that isn't free-to-play addiction-bait cash cow, and actually has a fun little narrative the player gets to experience without charging a fair amount? What is a fair amount?

Aside from the larger topic of game pricing, The Trace is a great iOS game to get stuck into, turn up your headphones and ignore everyone around you while you try and find what piece fits where. I played it on an iPad mini 2 and it looked great, though I wonder how well it would transfer to a smaller iPhone screen. The big question is, is it worth the £3.99 you’ll be paying? In my opinion, yes, it's still great fun and if you love detective mystery games you’ll have more fun with The Trace than you’ll have with any game you only have to click ‘get’ for.

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