We review The Trace, a new crime game for iPhone and iPad that lets you play detective, piecing together clues and solving an entertaining murder mystery.
I’m a massive fan of the Sherlock Holmes games on PC, so seeing a similar style of mystery game on iOS made me do a little sex wee with delight. The Trace casts you as a sleuthy American detective, investigating the apparent suicide of a garage owner – although the method of suicide, dropping a car on his own bonce, immediately rings a few alarm bells. Of course, it’s pretty obvious that evil is afoot and as you scour the scene for clues and solve various simple puzzles, you’ll soon come up with a list of possible culprits.
The Trace boasts some slick, professional presentation, highlighted by the detailed environments you have to search through. There are three locations in all to explore, all beautifully rendered with plenty of interactive hotspots. Just tap and swipe to navigate around, open cupboards and so on.
Occasionally you’ll come up against a locked door, computer password screen or some other obstacle, which can usually be overcome just by carefully searching for clues or relevant objects. Unfortunately the game is incredibly linear, a symptom of most adventure games, so if you miss just one tiny hotspot then you’re likely to be stuck for some time. However, a wee bit of patience is all you need to progress (or an internet walkthrough of course).
As well as finding clues, The Trace leaves you to come up with your own deductions, performed in an interconnected timeline. For instance, if you find a bunch of glass shards lying on the carpet, you’ll then have to work out exactly how they came to be there by searching for more clues.
The puzzles and deductions are easy enough for players of all ages to blast through and I finished the game in just over two hours (it would have been less if I hadn’t missed a vital clue in the middle section). Replayability is sadly limited once you’ve seen how the story plays out, but the mystery is gripping enough to keep you enthralled for the brief playing time.
If there was one other item on our wish list, it would be full voice work for the speaky bits instead of simple blocks of text. However, The Trace is a solid detective game that should entertain wannabe Sherlocks for its short duration.