Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1: A Dreadly Business is an adventure game from Rumpus Animation. It takes place in Victorian England - when puns were real puns, gentlemen dressed their best to use the loo, and exotic animals decorated the houses of upper-class England (mostly as mounted trophies and caged specimens).
But murder and scandal also slithered through London's cobblestone streets in the late 19th century, and this unpleasant business is what the first episode of Bertram Fiddle focuses on (with a hefty dose of humor, mind).
The titular Bertram Fiddle and his manservant (a Peruvian cyclops) are adventurers, though their trade doesn't bring in the dependable income of a more mundane job – which Missus Fiddle threatens Bertram with unless he manages to rake in some pounds. The mustached explorer finds a job quick enough, but he also finds trouble and is recruited to solve a string of murders.
A Dreadly Business is a point-and-click title. Players press the screen to highlight hot spots that can be interacted with (a massive time-saver), and collect items that may trigger vital events when they're dragged over said hot spots. Combining inventory items to make new tools is also possible.
A Dreadly Business isn't a unique game, as there are plenty of adventure titles on the digital marketplace these days. Like most entries in the genre it relies on its colorful and humorous writing to keep players entertained, which it does pretty well. The cast of characters varies from high-class big-game hunters to gutter-rat orphans that appear to be carrying some manner of disease (though are still happy to play marbles). There's also a pun involving an oar and a gate that's just unbelievable.
But few adventure games are as squeaky-clean as a brass pneumatic tube, and Mr Fiddle's mustache likewise has some untidy bits. He moves dreadfully slowly, which makes wandering the streets of London a real chore at times.
Players can double-tap door icons to initiate instant screen changes, but they have to reach the door icons in order for this trick to work. Many scenes are two or more screens across, which in addition to taking longer to traverse also makes it very easy to miss clues, since Fiddle must walk the length of a screen before its true size is revealed.
A Dreadly Business is also quite short, and it contains a couple of quick-time events that feel like unnecessary padding. Still, it's a solid adventure title with some fun puzzles and a compelling cliffhanger. It also offers a chance to send a baby pterodactyl rampaging through the darkening streets. Worth it? By Her Majesty's bloomers, yes.