One of the things I love about reviewing indie games is the ingenuity and creativity. Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore a Fedora definitely brings quite a bit of this to the table, with a pseudo-3D look and some interesting mechanics. Throw in the madcap characters, curious story filled with mysteries in need of solving, and a solid dialogue system, and you’ve got something that’s unique and fun, if sometimes frustrating with its lack of clear direction.
Strolling the streets of Tin Roof, our intrepid investigator has quite a bit of ground to explore in search of clues.
Following the bizarre cube-like police investigator Emma Jones and her feline partner, Franky, Hot Tin Roof serves up some classic adventure game material. Assigned to a case looking into a break-in at a local upscale condo, Jones and Franky set out to examine the scene of the crime, question the local riffraff, and uncover the truth behind this daring crime. Along the way, a colorful cast fills in the details, and hints at even darker activities within the corrupt, worn-down city of Tin Roof.
The lines of questioning sometimes get a little rough, and Franky is a cat of action.
Hot Tin Roof plays mostly as a side-scrolling adventure, with 3D-style transitions between areas or around corners. Armed with a revolver that holds some rather interesting ammunition, Emma must overcome tight-lipped suspects, numerous puzzles, and a worker’s strike to get to the bottom of her case. While not often used for violence, the pistol plays a pivotal role in both exploration and puzzle-solving with its curious assortment of bullets, which include grapple rounds for reaching high places and bubble-spraying bullets that reveal hidden levers, platforms, and more.
Quite possibly the neatest mechanic, reloading Jones’ revolver is actually fun.
The only negative thing I have to say about Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore a Fedora is that forward progress is often a bit unclear. While it’s pretty easy to get pointed in the right direction, finding ways to reach your destination — or knowing where that destination is — can be a chore. A map feature would do wonders here, but everything else is well in place. Rather than an inventory system, the game presents most things through clues you’ve found, which certain creatures around the city can be pressed for information about, offering up bits of the story that help players get oriented towards their goal.
This blockade, put together by working-class rats demanding fair wages, is a crucial obstacle in the investigation.
Along the way, Hot Tin Roof offers up some secrets to uncover, such as purple flowers that can increase Emma’s health. These rewards for thorough exploration have little bearing on the game, really, but it’s a fun diversion and a nice throw-in for players who stray from the apparent beaten path. In addition to the solid gameplay, Hot Tin Roof offers crisp visuals and a great mood-setting jazz soundtrack that really fits the noir motif of Investigator Jones’ journey. It all comes together to form a solid, if somewhat cartoonish, 1920s drama that captures the spirit of a time while still utilizing a distinct and interesting setting.
What’s not to love about a tie-sporting rat with a chipper mood and more than a few secrets?
All in all, Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore a Fedora puts together a well-made, interesting tale that’s entirely its own. With plenty of the city of Tin Roof to explore, and dozens of characters to question, grill, or shoot the breeze with, there’s more than enough content here to justify the $14.99 price tag on Steam, though I always advocate those on the fence to wait for the inevitable sale. The game’s soundtrack is also available for separate purchase at $4.99, or as a $24.99 package that also throws in Glass Bottom Games’ kitten-rescue game, Jones On Fire and its accompanying soundtrack. If you’re a fan of noir settings, quirky animals, and action-adventure with a side of police work, Hot Tin Roof is right up your alley.