Dead Cats Are Heavier Than Broken Hearts
HIGH Entertaining and surprisingly deep narrative.
LOW Ho-hum pixel art.
WTF How did I find only three rare cards out of six?!
The Nintendo Switch is receiving many indie adventure games that originally saw life on PC, and it’s definitely good news. First, because the touchscreen controls are perfectly suited to the genre, and secondly, because there are many titles that might not find a home on the Xbox or PS5, and Inspector Waffles is definitely among them.
In a world where cats and dogs live together (mass hysteria!) depressed and haunted police inspector Waffles (a cat) gets tangled up in the case of a murdered cat which will become much more complicated than he could ever imagine, including ties to a past which has come back to haunt him. It offers elements of a traditional noir story, but surprisingly balances out into an effective buddy cop/mystery tale.
The script touches upon some surprisingly emotional points and complicated topics such as racial issues and how to deal with loss, which are not fully explored, since the game is only three hours long. Still, they are used to give the player an picture of the society where Inspector Waffles takes place. Also, the game doesn’t hinge on tired dog and cat puns — the jokes never break the fourth wall and provide a kind of humor that supports a believable game world.
Gameplay is classic point-and-click fare — pick up items, talk with characters and solve puzzles. While chatting, Waffles gets out a notepad and jots down clues and inventory objects, both of which can be used while questioning dogs and cats in search of the culprit. it’s clear to see that the developers tried to strike a balance between classic ‘hard’ puzzles the genre is known for and easier fare for newcomers, and I think it’s fair to say they succeeded thanks to this handy notebook and a built-in hint system where Inspector Waffles reluctantly calls his mom. It ties in perfectly with the narrative.
Goloso Games implemented touchscreen controls for this Inspector Waffles port to the Switch which is a smart idea because the controls via thumbsticks could use a bit more refining. Basically, one moves around a mouse-like pointer, selecting items or clicking on exits. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts, like clicking the X button to open the inventory or any shortcut to exit dialogue. Instead the player is forced to move the pointer all over to select each option, and it’s a bummer.
In terms of presentation, Inspector Waffles offers a well-done ‘comic book’ style aesthetic for cutscenes, while using 8-bit pixelated art for the rest. Unfortunately, the pixel art didn’t do much for me — the limited animations and too-simple sprites didn’t do much to enrich the world.
Despite the controls and the graphics, Inspector Waffles is all about memorable characters, a solid narrative and well-designed, logical adventure puzzles which manage to strike a rare balance in difficulty. Sit down in front of the tv with a glass of warm milk and enjoy this purrrfectly comforting adventure.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Goloso Games and published by Hitcents. It is currently available on PC, PS4/5 and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Switch. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The game is rated T by the ESRB, it contains Blood, Violence, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco and Suggestive Themes. While there is no gory content and very little violence shown, like a couple of characters having a catfight (hehe), given the overall murder mystery narrative and some of the themes mentioned, I would recommend it at least to a young teen audience.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not feature spoken dialogue, and all dialogue is subtitled. Text cannot be altered or resized. Audio cues are not necessary for play. In my view, the game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: On Switch the game can be controlled by directly interacting with the touchscreen, which is the best method, otherwise a controller can be used to control the pointer which is a bit bothersome but works: move the pointer with the analogue stick and select options with the A button. Controls are NOT remappable.