Nora Mistry is an aspiring crime writer and what place could be more perfect to draw inspirations from than a quaint, mystery-riddled small town. The suburban town of Thornton Grove might seem peaceful on the outside, but inside it is entangled with countless unsolved cases – from strange occurrences to downright murders!
As its name suggests, Small Town Murders is a murder mystery game for mobile. Although murder mystery-themed hidden object games on mobile are easy to find, this same theme is considerably new to the Match 3 genre. Small Town Murders cleverly and smoothly combines these two polar-opposite tropes in a neat package. As a narrative piece, Small Town Murders is quite enjoyable and convincing. The intriguing and suspenseful elements of the cases are nicely balanced with quirky characters, cartoonish graphics, and the light, relaxing Match 3 gameplay.
In Gardenscapes style, Small Town Murders progresses level by level. However, instead of decorating a garden or a house in between, you get to solve cases. The investigative procedures involve a variety of tactics; from collecting evidence to interrogating suspects. The format of the storytelling also opens up the game progression to a more non-linear path, which I find interesting and unique. Still, the Match 3 gameplay could have used more experimental ideas. As they are right now, Match 3 levels are predictable, not very challenging, and are not totally relevant to events in the storyline.
With its bright visuals and cheery music, Small Town Murders is a relaxing play rather than an intense one, despite the murder theme. It is also worth noting that the game makes no attempt to actively force you to spend on in-app purchases. The game’s coin currency can be used to purchase power-ups and boosters, which can help you get past difficult levels and advance faster in events. However, just by playing the game regularly, you are rewarded with free bonus coins and they should be enough to help you in desperate moments.
At the time of this review, Small Town Murders features 8 different cases, with nearly 100 levels per case. The game is currently pretty limited with its social features, but that could very well change with any future updates. Rovio will forever be known as the creators of the blockbuster Angry Birds franchise, but their effort to branch out and try new things with Small Town Murders is definitely appreciated.