Trails and Traces: The Tomb of Thomas Tew
Developer: Because Because Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Genre(s): Adventure, Point and Click, Simulation
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PC, PS4, PS5 and Xbox consoles)
Age Rating: Teen, PEGI 12
Release Date: 26/04/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Trails and Traces: The Tomb of Thomas Tew is a short point and click adventure game created by a single developer. The gameplay is just like any other of the genre, solving puzzles by interacting with things in the world. You take the role of a private detective, solving a couple of cases through the course of the game. I played it without a guide and it took me about an hour to complete. None of the puzzles were particularly difficult, but there was difficulty found elsewhere…
The controls are the worst I’ve ever experienced. The joystick moves the cursor, which seems familiar. Otherwise you have two other buttons, interact and inventory. Using the inventory opens a pop-up menu with your belongings. Some of the items can be interacted with, while others you can tap to move to the main screen to use it with something. It’s the only time you ever tap the button. The rest of the game has you hold the interact button, then barely move the cursor up to look or down to interact. If you move too far in either direction, it cancels your interaction. In my playthrough I used the look command once, so the whole way of interacting seems clunky. It would probably work fine on a PC.
Graphics, Art Style and Animation
Then there are the graphics, art style, and animation. All of those are bad. The graphics are closest to an 8 or 16 bit look, but done badly. Everything seems flat, blocky, and not that colorful. The art style seems jumbled together, like they couldn’t make up their mind. The in-game animation isn’t animated much at all, with the flat characters just sliding across the screen instead of having an animated walk. The few cutscenes in the game are hand drawn monstrosities that look like you’re watching a child’s drawing of the game attempt to be animated. Those scenes are almost unrecognizable from the rest of the game.
Characters and Story
The characters and story aren’t any better. All the characters, including the main character, are not well fleshed out. They don’t have meaningful backstories or even unique personalities. You may as well refer to them as generic characters like the detective, the victim, the drunk, etc. The story, although short, doesn’t make a lot of sense and ends very differently than it started. There seems to be a few things thrown in just to give you a choice that doesn’t matter in the end, or to move the story along quickly.
So, is there anything good about it? I can only think of two that won’t matter to most. The character dialogue is fully voiced, which means that reading subtitles isn’t necessary. The subtitles are still available, should you need them. The other positive is probably the main reason this game exists, easy gamerscore. With a guide, you can get the full completion in half an hour or less.
Overall, I can only recommend the game to achievement hunters and point and click adventure fans on a budget. My score would be higher for those groups. However, I personally didn’t enjoy it. I can’t bring myself to give a one-man dev a minimum score, so I will give the game a one out of five.
Rapid Reviews Rating
1 out of 5
You can buy Trails and Traces: The Tomb of Thomas Tew in the Nintendo Eshop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.