REVIEW: Inspector Waffles

Apr
06

REVIEW: Inspector Waffles

Inspector Waffles is the cat’s meow, hitting the sweet spot for fun in point-and-click adventure games.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Goloso Games
Publisher: Hitcents
Release date: 23 March, 2021

I love detective stories; I love point-and-click games, and since Inspector Waffles combines those with cat and dog characters, it was a no-brainer to give it a go. Calling back to genre classics like the Monkey Island franchise, the game hits its comedy notes for a fun adventure in a universe I’d be eager to visit again.

Game Universe

Inspector Waffles takes place in a universe populated by anthropomorphic animals, mostly cats and dogs, with common pet names (e.g., Spotty, Snowball). The player mainly takes on the role of the titular character himself, although there are a couple of scenes where the player acts as Waffles’ supervisor, Patches. Waffles as a character may be intended to be an old school cynical noir detective, but the game’s overall tone is one of humor. The game dialogue is replete with puns and jokes, particularly ones poking fun at cat and dog stereotypes, such as that cats love boxes and that cat booze is strong milk. There are also some humorous fourth wall breaks. The idiosyncrasies of point-and-click games are even sometimes written into the universe, such as the hilarious explanation for limited use magnets.

Fourth wall breaks start in the first scene and continue throughout the game, setting the comic tone right from the get-go.

There is a primary and a secondary storyline and investigation. Some details and clues the player may uncover aren’t essential to the primary storyline and investigation, but the secondary storyline and investigation answers the questions left unresolved. The secondary storyline also hints at possibilities for further stories in the universe. Due to the in-game setting of Cat Town, most of the encountered animals are cats and dogs, but there are also cameos of other animal characters from other games, such as Lord Winklebottom.

Gameplay and Mechanics

The gameplay and mechanics used in Inspector Waffles will be familiar to genre fans. The player has access to an inventory (backpack) and a notebook used to record clues and questions. There is a highlighted text option available for players who might want additional direction, but I found most puzzles fairly intuitive to figure out without it.

I thought that the hint system was really well done, seamlessly integrated into the story by having the player call Waffles’ mom, a former inspector. There’s even one puzzle that requires utilizing this mechanic (which I forgot about at first since I hadn’t needed any hints up to that point).

The hint system is perfectly integrated into the universe storyline and is even uniquely used in plot progression.

Art Style and Graphics

Gameplay scenes are retro pixel art and graphics with a bright color palette, while cutscenes are mostly painted stills with some animated components (rather than fully animated).

Audio

The music is reminiscent of Final Fantasy and Nobuo Uematsu. The soundtrack is frequently jaunty and chipper, sometimes even in scenes where that doesn’t fit the mood, but not enough so as to affect the gameplay experience. It was interesting the soundtrack is included in the universe in a meta way as the music on the jukebox at the Metal Heart bar. Inspector Waffles has chosen to go the no voice acting route, but since it is a retro-style game that doesn’t feel out of place. The sound effects tend to make sense, such as the inclusion of a polaroid sound effect for the save menu (which is designed to look like a collection of polaroids).

Achievements

Inspector Waffles has 15 total achievements, creatively named. As is common, some are unmissable as the primary storyline and investigation is played, but there several missable achievements as well. Most of the missable achievements are related to collectibles, but in a unique twist, the collectibles actually do play a role in the secondary storyline and investigation rather than a meta goal.

Verdict

At $12.99 at the time of review, 4-5 hours of initial playthrough time, and achievements for replay value, Inspector Waffles is a clear buy for retro detective point-and-click fans. I’d love to join Waffles and Spotty again on a future adventure anytime, so I’ll be eagerly watching to see if the hints at future stories in the universe come to fruition.

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