App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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The latest re-release of a previous Apple Arcade exclusive is a quirky mystery adventure game about a curious family living on an isolated estate. Tangle Tower puts you in the shoes of a detective duo that has been called to uncover who murdered the most promising young member of an odd and eccentric family. It sounds dark, but Tangle Toweris colorful, curious, and charmingly presented while also being a well paced and logically sound detective experience.
Tangle Tower begins rather abruptly with the arrival of Detective Grimoire and his partner, Sally, arriving at the eponymous estate. After briefly learning the control basics, you get ushered up to a crime scene where a teenager named Freya Fellow has seemingly been murdered in front of her mother while painting a portrait of her.
This kicks off an adventure where you wander all over the Tangle Tower estate, finding clues and asking members of the Fellow and Pointer families about them and each other, and slowly unraveling what happened to Freya. You do all of this through fairly conventional point-and-click adventure game controls, though there is some innovation with the way Tangle Tower smartly draws its scenes to make clue-gathering feel intuitive and guides you through procedural breakthroughs via informal quips between the detective duo.
Although the method for controlling Tangle Tower is very much like other adventure games, the way in which its story unfolds is much more dialog-focused than other titles I've played in this genre. True to detective work, a lot of the game consists of taking down statements and combing through evidence together, and most of the game's challenge (or rather, gating) comes from finding the right things that lead to breakthroughs in logic or reasons to revisit less-than-honest statements.
This plays directly into Tangle Tower's strengths as its character design and voice acting work are top-notch, and the writing overall is very clever and charming. On top of this, the way everything is written is done so carefully that it is rare to ever feel the need for a hint or guide as to what to do next, as everyone's dialog guides you along in a way that keeps you on track without ever feeling like it's just telling you what to do next.
More than murder
Tangle Tower is a very story focused game and a "whodunit" to boot, so I can't go too far into how things play out without potentially spoiling things, so I'll just say that the game has some good twists and turns that will take you places you weren't expecting by the end. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself getting hung up on what to do next, the game does conveniently supply a hint system that keeps things generally vague enough to guide you to your next step without outright telling you what to do.
As mentioned in the opening, Tangle Tower is a re-release of the Apple Arcade version of the game onto the App Store and it feels exactly the same as it did behind the subscription service. One thing to note though is that--where some Apple Arcade games retained old cloud saves that worked with the re-release--that is not the case with Tangle Tower, meaning that if you started the game previously on iOS you'll have to start at the beginning in this version. As somewhat of a silver lining, it's not like Tangle Tower is a terribly long game and it plays best while everything about the case is still fresh in your mind, so starting over is recommended regardless.
The bottom line
Tangle Tower was one of the best titles on Apple Arcade while it lived there, and this App Store release is essentially the same great game but now available for a single purchase. Its innovative dialog-heavy approach to adventure game design is still a satisfying and refreshing experience, even years after its initial launch.