Tangle Tower (Switch) Review
Tangle Tower is a delightful puzzle game created by SFB Games, the studio behind Snipperclips and Haunt the House. A sequel to 2014’s Detective Grimoire, Tangle Tower continues the story of the charmingly quirky detective as he tries to solve a murder in which the prime suspect is a painting.
Tangle Tower opens with Grimoire and his new dry-cut partner Sally (who was a suspect in the previous game) arriving on the island in which the titular tower looms. The area is free to investigate, with the duo almost always having something to say about each detail in the environment. Every comment they make is filled with heart and comedy as their opposing personalities bounce off one another.
There are three core gameplay elements in Tangle Tower; investigating, puzzle-solving and interrogating. The dauntingly large tower features a labyrinth of rooms housing puzzles to solve, residents to chat with, and plenty of clues to find.
Each area is a compartment of the tower, conveying a living world that has been intricately crafted. Using techniques such as object placement and colouring, the intricately detailed environments are surprisingly easy to navigate and understand, despite their visual complexity.
Words cannot express how much of a pleasure it is to comb through every detail of Tangle Tower’s lovingly illustrated world. The backgrounds use a painting aesthetic, which conveys the whimsical nature of the otherworldly setting, and which juxtaposes against the flat colouring and linework of the characters. The contrast makes the characters pop off the screen, accentuating their over-the-top designs. It seriously is such a wonderful game to look at, and I really want to use the backgrounds as my computer wallpaper. Please release them VFB Games. Please.
Whilst most puzzles in Tangle Tower are fun, tricky mental exercises, the ones where Grimoire must create a statement stand out as brilliant tests of knowledge. The player must select from a range of clues and conjoining phrases, creating a sentence that usually serves as a revelation. Incorporating the “aha!” moments of a detective plot into the gameplay is an immensely satisfying experience, giving a sense of accomplishment other puzzle games simply don’t offer. Plus, hearing him say whatever silly phrase I concocted was a charming touch.
Character interactions are by far the best part of Tangle Tower. Each member of the Flora and Pointer family are wacky archetypes who are a joy to converse with. Rather than using textboxes with static portraits, Tangle Tower goes the extra mile by having every line be fully voiced and animated. Getting everyone’s statement, opinion on evidence, and feelings towards fellow residents is presented with such warmth and humour that I would constantly present irrelevant clues just to hear what they’d have to say on the matter.
Unfortunately, the answer to the overall question of “Who Killed Flora Fellow?” is so farfetched that it left me feeling frustrated, especially given the fact each of Tangle Tower’s previous mysteries unfolded in such a logical way that the player themselves reached the answer the same time Grimoire did.
It was both frustrating and rewarding having played Detective Grimoire before Tangle Tower. Whilst Tangle Tower does offer some neat call-backs and recontextualisation, it also raises many questions that stay unanswered— the worst being Sally’s completely unexplained shift from a random suspect to full-on partner. Fret not, though, playing the first game is definitely not necessary.
The Switch port of Tangle Tower is not the definitive version, and the game feels much better suited to phones. The game would lag and freeze when transitioning between areas in handheld mode, and characters would pop in moments after an area loaded.
The available control options work, but never felt intuitive. The best way to play is using the Switch’s touchscreen after detaching the Joy-Cons, in a way that mocks using a phone or tablet. Using the Joy-Cons and Pro Controller felt awkward when performing actions that required dragging items across the screen, a movement that feels much better when using a finger.
The motion controls were accurate and punchy, but are a hassle to use. Additionally, when using the Joy-Cons and motion controls, a cursor appears which often got in the way of the textboxes and animations. It’s abundantly clear that Tangle Tower was designed to be played on phones, and it’s a huge shame that the Switch port is so underwhelming.
Whether it be a question to be answered, an answer to be analysed, or a line to laugh at, there is never a dull moment in Tangle Tower. The overflowing wit, charm, and warmth carries the experience right to the end and leaves you wanting more. Despite the Switch port’s flaws, I still urge you to set aside an afternoon to delve deep into the world of Tangle Tower. It is seriously such a genius experience that’ll appeal to both your brain and heart.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
+ Great puzzle and world design
+ So. Much. Charm.
+ Beautiful aesthetic
+ Fifi Fellows
- Awkward controls
- Performance hiccups
- Underwhelming conclusions