Trails and Traces: The Tomb of Thomas Tew is an indie adventure game by Because Because Games. The best way I can describe the game is “Broken Sword by the way of Teenagent” – it’s kooky, often a bit awkward, but with plenty of charm.
You play as James Labbett, a private detective and vest enthusiast. After solving the case of the Mysterious Roof Hobo, you are hired to track down a missing archaeologist. Your journey will take you to exotic locations such as Rhode Island, Florida, and West Yorkshire to uncover the secrets of the dreaded pirate Thomas Tew.
If all that sounds less-than-epic to you, that’s probably on purpose. Trails and Traces takes the globe-trotting adventure genre down a notch, and instead of ancient jungle temples, crumbling castles, and lost cities, it takes you to seemingly mundane locations. It’s part of the game’s sense of humor, and a way for it to parody the games it so clearly pays homage to.
If you ever played a classic point-and-click title, Trails and Traces will be instantly familiar to you. So much so, in fact, that veteran adventurers can breeze through the game’s puzzles with ease. On the one hand, it’s always nice to play a game with no “moon logic” puzzles that you can figure out; on the other, a little more challenge is always appreciated.
And that is Trails and Traces biggest fault – it doesn’t challenge or innovate.
It’s obvious developer Matt Barker really, really loves the Broken Sword games (I don’t blame him, it’s a great series), and he expresses this love using plenty of Easter Eggs and references, most of them aren’t very subtle. That’s all well and good, this is an homage after all, but it is clear that the game is more concerned about being “like Broken Sword” than trying to bring something new to the genre.
That said, Trails and Traces comes from a place of admiration. Sure, it can be clumsy, with fake accents and story threads that appear out of nowhere only to disappear without a trace moments later, but it’s also charming, occasionally funny, and has some really great music. Barker is first and foremost a musician, and his creations are peppered throughout the game for you to enjoy, and they are definitely one of the highlights.
Trails and Traces: The Tomb of Thomas Tew feels like an adventure game by fans, for fans. And as such a fan, I enjoyed the two or so hours I spent with this game. It’s refreshing to play an indie adventure game that’s inspired by the likes of Broken Sword and Gabrial Knight, and not every LucasArts or Sierra game.
So if you want to spend some time playing through a love letter to the adventure games of yore (and don’t mind James Labbett’s somewhat creepy stare), you can find Trails and Traces on Itch.io.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.