There is a certain feeling that I have avoided for over 10 years. It's the unnerving sensation you get when you open an exam paper and are confronted with two trains leaving different cities at different speeds.
Some may relish having to crowbar their minds around imaginary public transport, but for me it provokes nothing but blank-eyed puzzle fear. For the exact same reason I have always done my utmost to avoid situations in which I have to take grain, chickens and hungry foxes across a river in a very small boat.
Patterns, logic and maths: all these things put a black hole in my stomach and, for a brief second at least, make me feel alone in a cruel and brutal world.
It's a feeling that returned with a vengeance as I was handed the pad in a four-man playthrough of the forthcoming third episode of the Blue Toad Murder Files - The Mystery of the Concealing Flame.
"We started with the idea of the whodunit, and the whodunit is like a big puzzle - you get a whole bunch of information and you sift through it to find the details you need to come up with the answer," design director Paul Woodbridge had explained before I was banished to one of Relentless' offices with a group of fellow journalists to confront my demons. "These lateral thinking logic puzzles lend themselves to that very well, and they're the sorts of things you can do together."
Mercifully it was that final detail, the co-operative nuance and strange balance of competition and camaraderie, which a pass-the-pad playthrough of Blue Toad engenders, that made my moment of puzzle-fail shame a temporary one.
Calmed by the buzz of activity elsewhere within the HQ of Relentless Software and aided by helpful fellow players, I very nearly managed to rearrange a flirty librarian's filing system successfully. I didn't do it, obviously, but I didn't kill anyone in the process either. It was actually rather fun. Later I even went on to successfully reorder some broken biscuits.
It helps that the game charms your socks off. Blue Toad's murder mystery pastiche takes the word 'quaint' to its very extremities, covering everything in such a veneer of antiquated Englishness that you'd be willing to forgive it even if the game itself had been caught redhanded in the library wielding a bloodied candlestick. It's Miss Marple meets Trumpton - a saccharine cartoon world of butchers, bakers, candlestick-makers and grumpy generals who need the ducks in their pond jigged around against a ticking clock.
Each episode is a crime mystery, as you will know if you have played through episode ones and two, reviewed just before Christmas. You move from character to character within the sleepy village of Little Riddle (episode three concerns the mastermind behind a raging inferno within the village) and each line of questioning prompts a puzzle - whether it's to do with the misremembered canine theft of sausages or men in primary-coloured waist-coats refusing to be associated with one other.
Standing proud and fairly loud over proceedings is one Tom Dussek - the man narrates in his deep bass tone, does the police in different voices and impersonates irritating old women as they give your faithful canine companion's testicles a good squeeze.
"There's just such a rich seam of character," he explains once the credits to episode three are rolling, fresh from an impersonation of the coquettish librarian flirting with wet-nosed Watson the dog. "Agatha Christie is massively popular around the world - so it plays well to all nationalities. English is Bowler hats, and English is Agatha Christie. Poirot even emigrated to come to England to solve crimes."
He may bat away the question 'When did you first realise you had an awesome voice?' but Dussek's voicework does stand out as the star of the show. His dramatic and prolonged cries of 'Muuuuurdeeeeer!', the loving use of words like 'dear heart' and 'vittles', can't help but gift an idiot-grin.
The manner he chivvies along players in a way that recalls the heady days of quiz classic You Don't Know Jack is also a nostalgia-blast in waiting for gamers of a certain age. Dussek though is quick to underline the teamwork that goes into creating Little Riddle's daft inhabitants.
"The character is written, and then a designer comes up with the way they look - and then I put a voice to it. For example, the doctor is very thin, so he can't have a big fat voice.
"Mrs Gossip, I think, is based on my Auntie - but none of my family can see it. The Butcher is loosely my best mate Jim... So it's written, the character is designed, we spend some time getting the voice together, then once we think we've nailed it we go and record it.
"Obviously we try and put as many hooks into the speech as we can, for the animators to animate to - put in some sort of peculiarity and it's beautiful what the animators can do. If there are inflections in the voice to indicate an eyebrow-raise it works so much better because it's funny."
He's right too. The swooning and moustache-twirling of the suspects you'll head-scratch for and against is never anything but a delight, and the way that puzzle-bearers fall through the floor as the action switches to the challenge screen is yet another successful front of the charm offensive.
Combined with the old-time pathé-style 'Duh-Duh-DURRR' organ music, backgrounds seemingly made of flock wallpaper, and omnipresent ducks, it's an instant love affair for anyone with a working knowledge of the ITV4 Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie rinse-and-repeat schedule.
Quite how these things will fare on release in other territories is another matter entirely though. "We're releasing in America soon, and it'll be very interesting to see how it does there," says Paul Woodbridge. "Obviously stuff like Monty Python is really popular over there - so we'll either do really well or not so well. We'll find out when it happens."
A more pressing issue, however, has reared its head over the pricing of episodes and the fact that once you've pointed the finger at the accused there's little by way of replayability. This has led to the somewhat gigantic decision to make the third episode of Little Riddle's increasingly dangerous rural shenanigans free for those who invest, or have invested, in the earlier instalments.
"It's predominantly from the feedback we had from the release of episodes one and two," explains producer Jade Tidy when we attempt to do journalism at her.
"We got that the game is really good - but the cost and the lack of replayability is a downside. We were too far into development to change anything about the replayability, but we could do something about the price."
As such, for the four weeks after release on 25th February The Mystery of the Concealing Flame will be free to anyone who buys or has bought the first episode, while the final three episodes will appear in a £9.99 triple-pack on 8th April. It's clearly a sharp turn in Relentless' plans, but there's little doubt that the fun-yet-frothy Blue Toad experience is more of a viable purchase under the new mission statement.
As for the dramatic close of episode three, when each player secretly points the finger at someone in a Little Riddle Usual Suspects line-up, it was no particular surprise when I got it fundamentally wrong. Wrongful imprisonment would become more frequent should I ever become a fictional detective.
But, beyond an hour's worth of chuckles and puzzling, what's an abuse of criminal justice between friends?
Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mystery of the Concealing Flame is due out for PS3 via PlayStation Network next Thursday, 25th February.