From the developer of Angry Birds comes a new and engaging puzzle game that targets fans of murder mysteries. Rovio’s latest mobile title is called Small Town Murders, which blends an immersive narrative with match 3 puzzles to offer a unique story-based gameplay.
The game stars Nora Mistry, a crime novel writer who just arrived in Thornton Grove in the hopes that the idyllic hamlet far from the hustle and bustle of the big city will help her get through a dry spell. Just as she is checking in at Mrs. Musgrove’s B&B, she and her hostess hear a noise nearby and rush out to see what’s happening only to find that the police have arrived and are sealing off the area with tape.
Nora immediately realizes that a murder has been committed and goes over next door to offer her services to the investigative officer in charge. Luckily, this is a small town so Mrs. Musgrove quickly introduces Nora to deputy Shanahan who agrees to allow her to help out with the investigation. After all, it’s the deputy’s first murder case and Nora is all but an expert in this field, so he needs all the help he can get.
The player enters game as Nora’s sidekick who will work alongside her to help reveal who is the person behind the murder of Mrs. Higgins – a rich old lady who was living across the street from the town’s B&B. There are a total of 8 different crime stories to be solved in Small Town Murders, but the game will unlock a new only after you’ve made an arrest on the current case. Rovio plans to launch updates for the game every month, with roughly one new crime story per month.
Players’ main goal in Small Town Murders is to complete match 3 levels to collect evidence, follow leads and work through a list of suspects that will ultimately lead to finding the person(s) guilty of committing murder. Unlike other similar games from this category, Small Town Murders really puts an emphasis on the story, as each new solved puzzled unlocks another step in your quest to finding the killer.
For example, if you wish to ask a suspect a number of questions, you will have to solve a match 3 level for each of them in part. Therefore, if your pleasure lies mostly in playing Match 3 games, be advised that this game does not offer an easy differentiation between the two aspects. It’s our recommendation that you try to embrace it as a whole, so as to be able to take advantage of the entire gaming experience that Rovio designed.
Overall, Small Town Murders is a fun and easy game to play that won’t give you any major headaches. However, if you still find that you’re coming up short during some stages, you’ve come to the right place, as we’re here to provide you with a list of tips, tricks and strategies for Small Town Murders that will hopefully help you to improve your gameplay quickly and painlessly.
1. Power-Ups Galore – The Key To Success
While matching 3 tiles of a particular color forms the central mechanic of Small Town Murders, anyone who has ever played a match 3 game before knowns that this strategy can only get you so far.
If your goal is to be able to master more than just the easy levels, your strategy will have to rely heavily on Power-ups – which are special items that give you an edge and can be created by matching 4 tiles or above. Sometimes combo matches like these will happen automatically, but most of the times you will need to do the work and spot the combinations that unlock Power-ups yourself.
Each level in Small Town Murders comes with its own set of objectives. For example, you might be required to collect a number of tiles of a certain color or to gather specific elements. Some of the most challenging levels will combine these conditions. And it’s during these stages that you will need to make use of Power-ups as much as you can possibly can.
In addition, players have a number of moves at their disposal to accomplish the tasks set before them. It’s worth pointing out that Power-up use speeds up the game considerably, which guarantees that you will be able to finish before you run out of moves.
There are four different times of Power-ups in this game, and below we are going to describe them for you so that you know what each of them does.
Rocket – players can create one by matching four tiles of the same color in a line. There are two types of Power-ups you can generate – match four tiles vertically and you will get a Power-up that will obliterate all tiles in a line or match four tiles horizontally for a Power-up that will destroy all tiles in a column. The Rockets – as well as all the other Power-ups for that matter – can be activated either by swapping them with an adjacent piece or by double tapping on them. The latter option is very useful, as you will be able to make use of the Power-up even if its trapped between immobile obstacles.
Paper Plane – Next off, we have the Paper Plane which players can create by matching four or five tiles in a square pattern. The Power-up will clear the pieces around it in a plus shape, and then will take off and eliminate one more piece – usually an item you are trying to collect as part of your objective list.
Bomb – The Bomb can be created by matching five tiles in a L or T shape. The orientation of the shape doesn’t really matter. When players activate a Bomb, it will set off an explosion which will clear all the pieces in a two tile radius.
Color Bomb – The Color Bomb is one of the most powerful and effective Power-ups in this game. You can get one by matching 5 similar pieces in a line, either horizontally or vertically. When swiped with a neighboring tile, the Power-up will destroy all the pieces of the same color that are on the board. As mentioned above, Color Bombs can also be activated with a double tap, in which case, they will target the color which appears most frequently on the board.
That being said, make sure you remember that the best matches to make are the ones that will result in the creation of Power-ups. Do yourself a favor and wait a few seconds before making your next move to see if the game cues you toward that sort of match. If it doesn’t, try scanning the board yourself, instead of randomly performing matches just for the sake of it. Don’t get fooled by the game’s cute graphics, this is a strategy game where you will need to think ahead before making a move.
2. Beat Harder Levels By Combining Power-Ups
Compared with other games in the genre, Small Town Murders isn’t one of the toughest nut you’ll have to crack. In contrast, Gardenscapes is a lot trickier and features levels you will have to play over and over to win. Even before you’ve hit the 100 level mark, you’ll be faced with puzzles that are no walk in the park.
That being said, Small Town Murders is generally a bit more trouble-free. That’s doesn’t mean you won’t encounter your fair share of complicated levels. Actually the most challenging ones bear a “Hard Level” or “Super Hard Level” tag, so that you know what you’re heading into beforehand. But we’re talk more about these types of levels a little bit later (section 3).
In this section we’ll focus on the levels with average difficulty. We’ve already told you that Power-ups are super useful and that you should be aiming to create as many as possible. There’s another reason for this recommendation – combining Power-ups produces spectacular results. So much so that some combinations might even clear the board with only just a handful of moves.
Below we take a look at all the possible ways you can combine Power-ups in the game, so that you know what to expect from each fusion.
Rocket + Bomb = has the effect of clearing a total of three rows and columns in a cross shape;
Rocket + Paper Plane = the Rocket will activate itself at the location where the Paper Plane lands;
Rocket + Rocket = combining two Rockets together will clear one row and column in a cross shape;
Rocket + Color Bomb = one of the best combinations you can make in the game, as it turns all the pieces of a particular type into Rockets, which then launch in random directions;
Bomb + Paper Plane = the Bomb will detonate at the location where the Paper Plane lands;
Bomb + Bomb = merging two Bombs together has the effect of creating a big explosion that will obliterate double the tiles than when using a single Bomb.
Bomb + Color Bomb = another incredibly effective combination, as the Color Bomb will replace tiles of a particular color across the board with Bombs which then get detonated to clear impressive amounts of space.
Paper Plane + Paper Plane = combining two Paper Planes has the effect of launching a total of 3 Paper Planes on the board;
Paper Plane + Color Bomb = like in the previous cases, combining a Color Bomb with another Power-up will create a compelling outcome. The Color Bomb will replicate the Paper Plane across the board, which will then launch in every direction;
Color Bomb + Color Bomb = the most destructive combination available in this game, as it wipes out all the titles present on the board.
Bottom line is this – if you have a Color Bomb on the board, try your best to get a second Power-up next to it so you can combine them together. The effects are massive, and will greatly improve your chances at wining the level. Obviously, the other combinations shouldn’t be passed over either.
3. Equip The Whole Host Of Pre-Level Boosters To Beat Really Hard Levels
But what about really really though levels? Sometimes using Power-up combination just doesn’t do the trick, no matter how destructive they are. Well in that case, try using pre-level Boosters, the whole lot of them.
Boosters are like Power-ups, but the main difference between them is that you can equip the latter before a game starts. There are three types of pre-level Boosters, but keep in mind that they won’t all be available from the start of the game. Instead, they will unlock as you reach a certain stage. Here’s the list of pre-level Boosters available in Small Town Murders.
– Rocket & Bomb – you begin the level with a Rocket and a Bomb already placed on the board;
– Color Bomb – you start the level with a Color Bomb already available for your use on the level;
– Double Paper Planes – doubles the number of Paper Plane Power-ups during a level.
When dealing with a really difficult stage, we recommend that you head into the game with all three pre-level Boosters equipped. Don’t worry, really hard levels will only appear later in the game, so by the time you get to one, the Boosters will be unlocked and ready for service.
If you do this, you’ll be able to start the game with a healthy amount of Power-ups on the board. Then focus your efforts of creating as many additional Power-ups as you can and try to combine them as much as possible for a positive outcome during the level.
What if you followed our advice and you still can’t clear customs? Well maybe, in-level Boosters might be able to provide you with the needed finishing touches. There are three options to choose from, which can be found in the right side of the display:
– Hammer – players can use hammers to damage any single tile without spending a move;
– Sledgehammer – the sledgehammer can damage all tiles in one row and column in a cross shape and it will not spend a move;
– Glove – the Glove swaps two adjacent tiles without subtracting a move.
Be careful how you use these in-level Boosters, as some can be quite effective even during the match per-se, and not only as a last resort. The Sledgehammer, for example, is great for when you need to clear a while raw and column, while the Hammer and Glove can easily get you out of a pinch when things appear to be less than favorable towards the end of a level.
4. Try Different Strategies For Different Levels
Most Small Town Murders levels feature some kind of obstacle or blocker that needs to be collected or eliminated from the board. The crazy difficult ones include more than one. So each time you play a new level, we recommend that you don’t rush and start matching aimlessly. Take your time to evaluate the board, get to know the elements and try to understand it. Treat it as a puzzle for which you need to find a solution. The game might cue you towards making a certain match, but you shouldn’t go for it unless it is a helpful move towards achieving the objectives set by the level.
As you progress in the game, new types of levels and obstacles will be revealed. Discovering new elements can often seem challenging, as it might take time and a few tries before you can figure out how that piece works and how it interacts with the other tiles in the game.
So in this section we’re going to focus on providing some tips and tricks regarding how to deal with some of the most common obstacles and elements in the game.
Before we begin, we should note that there are three major elements in Small Town Murders: Level Collectables, Blockers and Floor Titles. Below we will analyze a few from each category.
Light Bulbs – this is a Collectable that is almost always found inside a container of some sort including Box, Ice, Chain or Bubble Wrap. To collect them, you will need to start matching next to the container they are in. So as you start the level, focus on matching in the vicinity of the containers as much as possible to be able to release them quickly and then focus on other obstacles (if any). You can also use Power-ups and of course, combinations of Power-ups to collect them faster.
Detective Hats – these are indestructible objects that need to be collected whenever they appear on the board. Some can be present on the grid from the start, but more of them will usually cascade from the top of the board. The goal here is to get the hats at the bottom of the screen to collect them. A simple way to do so is to use Rockets or by using the Sledgehammer in-level Booster (if you have one at your disposal) which clears both a column and a row of tiles, thus providing a clear passage for the Collectable to fall to the bottom.
Box of Explosives – these are Blockers that need to be detonated by making adjacent matches or by using Power-ups. Keep in mind that sometimes you will need to make more than one match before you can set off these explosives. When you do set them off, they will cause mass destruction across the board, thus perhaps clearing some other useful tiles in the process. Which is why, during a level with Box of Explosives, you should always aim to detonate them as soon as possible.
Also keep in mind that you might also stumble upon Colored Boxes of Explosives during some levels. These are just like the regular Boxes, only that you will have to perform adjacent matches using the same colored tiles to set them off.
Box of Donuts – These items are Blockers which contain donuts you need to collect and matching in their vicinity or explosions will clear these donuts away. The larger the explosion the larger the number of donuts will be cleared, so it will be faster to collect them using Bombs and Fireworks. Once all the Donuts are collected, you’ll have more space to form new Power-ups for the remaining obstacles, if there are still any left.
Chains – Blockers that can hold lots of things including Power-ups, Collectables, or just simple tiles. Chains keep an item in place until you break them. You can release simple tiles from their prison by matching them with other tiles of the same color. However, if a Chain is holding a Light Bulb, for example, the only way to break the Chain is to use a Power-up or through some other sort of explosion (via a Box of Explosives).
Carpet – the Carpet is a tricky Floor Tile which you need to spread to every square on the board. You might not get how the spreading works the first time you encounter this sort of tile, so read this carefully: you spread it by making a match that is at least partly on top of a Carpet tile. Be careful when use Power-ups, they will need to be on top of the Carpet tile as well, if you want their effect to help with your Carpet rolling quest. Set off a Power-up outside the Carpet tile area, and you might be wasting it for nothing.
5. Mind Your Hearts
Players start each day in the game with a total of 5 hearts (or lives) and failure to complete a level will result in the loss of one life. Unlike other match 3 titles out there, running out of lives proves to be a tricky business in Small Town Murders.
Despite the fact that the game prompts you to log in with Facebook from the very beginning (and mind you, there is no way around that), you can’t ask friends for help whenever you find yourself in need of more lives. That leaves you with a few other options at your disposal, should you run out of juice.
First off, the game is designed in such a way as to offer you a surprise gift for every 5 group of stages you complete. So at the end of such a cycle, you might be lucky enough to discover an unlimited life power-up as reward. Other winnings include Boosters or Power-ups.
Not everything has to be dependent upon luck, though. Should you actually run out of lives, don’t worry! You can either wait approximately 10 minutes to get another one or you can spend 900 in-game coins to refill your life tank.
Speaking of coins, this is the main resource in the game. Even so, the only way you can hoard cash is by completing levels, the more the better. Coins are important for other reasons, as well, not just for buying additional lives.
For example, let’s say you ran out of pre-level or in-level Boosters. Well, then you can use the coins you’ve accumulated so far to buy some more. For instance, a pack of 3x Sledgehammers will take you back with 3,800 coins, which is pretty expensive. Fortunately, others won’t put such a strain on your purse, like for example, getting a 3x Color Bomb pack which is just 900 coins.
Once a day, the game offers up the option to watch an ad for some freebies. Make sure you take advantage of that opportunity, because as you can see refilling your Boosters doesn’t come cheap.
6. Need A Better Load Out? Here’s How To Get One
There will be cases when you’ll have to take on a level which requires you to reach the objective with very few moves. In such a scenario, all moves become critical and should be carefully considered. Which is why getting a good tile load out from the get go might be crucial.
What happens if you open up a level only to find the load out is less than satisfactory? You could try solving the level anyway or…you could abstain from making any moves. As we already recommended above, a good strategy is to take a few seconds to survey the board and see what your options are. If you can’t spot any moves that would be helpful in edging you towards completing the level objective, then know that you can always opt out. Simply tap on the Pause button in the lower left corner and select Quit.
A new game with a different load out will begin, and the best part is – you won’t lose any of your precious lives. Have a tricky level on your hands? Try this tactic and hopefully you will be able to start the game in full force with a load out that might even allow the creation of a Power-up or two.
7. Be Active During In-Game Events
Most match 3 games we played abound in all kinds of events which allow players to win rewards and other goodies. Uncharacteristically, Small Town Murders keeps these events to a minimum.
Mrs. M’s Booster Buffet is the main periodical calendar event that you should not miss out on. It usually lasts a few days at a time, and while it is going on, it’s advised that you increase your gaming efforts. Be as active as your schedule allows you to, and once the event is over you can take a time out from the game if this is what you want.
Now, the Booster Buffer is a very valuable affair because while it takes place you’ll be rewarded with progressively more Power-ups as you successfully clear stages. These will be placed on the board at the beginning of a level, thus increasing your chances of beating a level considerably.
With this we wrap up our Small Town Murders beginner’s guide. We hope you have found some useful tips and tricks in this article so you can become a master at solving levels in no time. If you know some strategies we haven’t touched upon here, please don’t hesitate to share them with us via the comment section below!