Rumpus Animation's goofy detective by the name of Bertram Fiddle has been around since 2015 on Android, iOS, and PC, but it's only now that the first episode on his adventure, entitled 'A Dreadly Business', has made its way to Nintendo's hybrid console, the Switch. We got our thinking caps at the ready and prepared to dive into the adventure for the first time, since we never got round to reviewing the previous versions.
To give a bit of background on Bertram Fiddle himself, imagine if Sherlock Holmes was given a good seeing to by Adult Swim, but instead of being an adult cartoon he emerged instead a bizarrely strange-looking family-friendly buffoon of a detective. This is pretty much the perfect summary for Fiddle, who is aided by his cyclops assistant Gavin. Yes, while this may look like Victorian London, there are certain anomalies that set this apart from any real-world alternatives... and a cyclops is just one of many.
As soon as you wake up from your bed at the start of the chapter the style of humour will make itself very clear, as it all revolves around silly voices and the puns, of which there are probably thousands. Even as you go downstairs you can look at the grandfather clock, at which point Fiddle says to himself "my grandfather had a massive clock." This pretty much gives you a solid idea of the comedy that's being aimed for, and while we might sound cynical about it, it's actually light-hearted enough to keep things fun and light, despite not always being laugh-out-loud hilarious.
The visual style aligns with this too, as everything is colourful, whacky, zany, and other such synonyms. Even Fiddle himself has a ridiculously exaggerated moustache, and that's not even the weirdest thing, as you'll bump into Dodo-powered massage machines, killer plants, and even a puzzle that requires you to rearrange parts of a face together, and by that we mean literally putting eyes in eye sockets.
These puzzles are never too difficult, but they're also far from obvious at times too. The game strikes a nice balance between being accessible and obtuse (with point and click games often swinging either way if they're not careful), and what helps here is that by holding your finger on-screen you can see what items in the area you can interact with, and then it's the typical adventure game formula of using it on something else or in combination with something else. The art style makes sure everything in the environment is clear as to what you can see as well, making the whole affair nice and simple.
That is perhaps why the entire game doesn't last longer than two hours. While at a reasonable price of £4.99, a little more length would have gone a long way, especially when it comes to the different areas you can explore. There's a variety, yes, but you're never in any of them for very long, and it seems as if there could have been a bit more content to pad out the experience or keep completionists entertained by searching for hidden goodies.
You can definitely tell from the Switch version that this is a game carried over from PC and mobile. The left stick, for instance, moves a cursor around the screen, but as you probably imagine this isn't a pleasant process, and so we actually solely used the touch screen instead without even touching the Joy-Cons. In that way it's a shame we didn't get any Switch-specific features, and instead, it feels like it's still on a phone in this way, or rather a tablet with a bigger screen.
It does look nice on the aforementioned screen though, it must be said. It's crisp to look at, the colours are vibrant, and everything is incredibly smooth. Admittedly it never gets into real 'pushing the hardware' territory, but whether you're in one location or in a chase sequence in the Victorian streets, everything runs well and the animations, in particular, are packed with flair, adding to the already strong character design.
All in all this is worth picking up if you're wanting to pass the time with an easy and accessible point and click game for a plane or train journey, but don't expect tons of substance past that. It's got a few chuckles, entertaining environments, and a rather unique style, but it's not got the legs to compete with the heavy-hitters in the genre. Not that we think it's trying to, as we can't imagine Fiddle was created to stand toe-to-toe with Monkey Island's Guybrush Threepwood.