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Toby's Nose

by Chandler Groover profile

Mystery
2015

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Number of Reviews: 4
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1-4 of 4


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Dog detective a la Lime Ergot, April 30, 2016
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: parser, sanguine
Time to completion: 40-45 minutes

Groover presents a game in the best tradition of the locked-room murder mystery, featuring a canine protagonist. As with other games featuring canine protagonists, the sense of smell is tremendously important. In fact, in Toby's Nose, >SMELL acts like how >EXAMINE does in Lime Ergot. In fact, the author's note acknowledges the contribution of Lime Ergot and Pacian's Castle of the Red Prince in his coming up with the game's core mechanic.

Toby's Nose is generously and lavishly written; almost everything is implemented and written in vivid, eye-catching detail. As with other games using 'telescopic' observations, the parser remains a uniquely flexible tool to shift the PC's focus from objects distant both geographically and conceptually.

There are generous hints provided, but the writing gave clear enough hints to allow the reader to figure out what's going on. That brings us to another thing unique about this game: the reader has the responsibility to make the observations and deductions. Unlike many other mystery games, the game reveals nothing of the correct answer (i.e. whodunit), not in the form of a notebook, not in the form of a list of clues, leaving any explanation of the crime to the end. Shifting the responsibility to the reader to figure out what's going on invests the reader much more in the game.

As with other dog-PC games, this game remains lighthearted, even when the PC is recalling other characters' sordid details, and maintains a gentle sense of humour throughout. A comment about the ending is below, but overall, I found Toby's Nose a very charming and highly polished game, featuring excellent writing and a good use of the core mechanic.

(Spoiler - click to show)One might complain that the ending of Toby's Nose is a bit of a wall of text. One would not be wrong! However, this echoes the structure of the original Holmes stories - Doyle's idea of a resolution was quite often to have Holmes explain what he had been doing right under the reader's nose - so Groover is perhaps justified in this aspect.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
The best murder mystery I have played. You are Sherlock Holmes' dog., February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
In this game, you play as Sherlock Holmes' dog as you investigate a murder. The game features an innovative movement system based on Pacian's Castle of the Red Prince.

You explore a huge variety of locales with what seems like a hundred or more objects, but due to the system, it can be done quickly.

The one aspect of the game that initially turned me off is that it requires exhaustive search of all such objects. You have a single command to search them, but you have to repeat it over, and over, and over. It becomes like Where's Waldo.

However, as the story unfolded (using hints occasionally because I hurried through it in an hour), I became enthralled. This is a good mystery. As the author states, it is intended to be solved in your head, and not through gameplay mechanics (contrast this with the wonderful Infocom mystery Ballyhoo, where the focus is on solving puzzles to obtain more evidence, but a psychological element is still present).

I found the solution to be very logical and satisfying. I had two false accusations I was convinced of in the middle of the game before I realized I had missed crucial evidence.

Strongly recommended.

P.S. I was stuck at the very beginning because I did not understand the mechanic. You need to (Spoiler - click to show)smell nouns that appear in the descriptions of people, even if they are not present. So if someone smells like they went to a party, type SMELL PARTY, etc..

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Don't read any spoilers. Solve this absorbing mystery., April 11, 2015
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
Dogs have superior olfactory abilities, and this game simulates that. Scents have memories attached, and you can explore scent-memories and the entire world of a case and solve it from one room as Sherlock Holmes's dog. This is a great use of a "Castle of the Red Prince" style approach, which the author notes is intentional.

There's no time limit or pressure as Toby reviews scents and memories. The case can be solved by guessing right on the first turn, but definitely don't try that. I accused everyone *but* the right person. Well, I didn't accuse Holmes or Watson. Needless to say, great mystery, great game. Only a few tiny minor disambiguations to be expected (Spoiler - click to show)such as opium pipes and church organ pipes but nothing I found that ruined the game.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
The Smell is the Solution, April 10, 2015
by Matt W (San Diego, CA)
So much is accomplished here with about four verbs: smell, examine, bark, inventory. The PC is Sherlock's Holmes's faithful bloodhound Toby. And you're assisting Holmes to solve a murder by smelling various objects. On the face of it, this is a one-room game, but smelling something can evoke memories or scents relating to other locations in Toby's experience and you can thus traverse a wide array of very Victorian-British locales and social situations. The London that results is more Dickens-meets-Downton than Doyle, but it is rich and very detailed, providing commentary on nearly everything you can see, smell, and imagine. Groover has provided copious optional footnotes describing the various literary, IF, and pop-culture references in the game.

There's a sense in which the very limited verb-set in this game makes it seem somewhat choice-based. One could imagine re-creating it fairly completely in Twine. But Toby's Nose does a great job showing what the parser potentially does better. It demands an attention to detail (wholly appropriate in a Holmes mystery) that the clearly signaled hyperlinks in a Twine or other HIF story don't, and it permits actions that are off-script, which -- even though they're not necessary to complete the story -- add detail and background and humor that enriches the experience.

The story does tend to anthropomorphise Toby a bit, but it also doesn't forget that he's a dog. There's a wealth of (often funny) extra interactions and descriptive data built into the game to reinforce the canine perspective. Toby's smelling prowess also may seem a bit too impressive at times, but this can be forgiven as in service to a fantastic story. Toby's Nose is a truly impressive and accomplished piece of interactive fiction. Highly recommended.

Quick non-spoilery tip: it's possible to fairly easily brute force the solution to the mystery. (I did not solve it correctly on the first try or -- I'm ashamed to admit -- on the second try.) It may be helpful to know that the solution is obvious, not ambiguous, once you have all the requisite data. Don't cheat yourself by jumping the gun:)


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