- Developer: Mografi
- Publisher: Mografi
- Release date: 26/08/2020
- Price: £18.99 / $24.99
- Review code provided by Mografi
Introducing: Jenny LeClue Detectivu Switch Review
I’m not ashamed to admit that a lot of my childhood was spent playing the Nancy Drew games by HerInteractive. They were a solid mystery and puzzle series that I still go back to every now and then, even if I don’t keep up with upcoming releases like I did when I was eleven. My love for mystery solving capers in games has never really diminished and they are a genre that I try to keep an eye out for. When I came across Jenny Leclue Detectivu, my brain instantly pinged the main character as looking like Velma from Scooby Doo, I knew I had to play it.
Looks Like a Mystery to Me
Jenny LeClue Detectivu is the story of, well… Jenny LeClue, but that’s not all. It’s also the story of Arthur K Finklestein, the author of the Jenny LeClue book series, which has seen a downward trend in sales because they are considered to be repetitive. The stories have apparently gotten stale due to the mysteries being little things that are the problems of a safe and friendly small town. His editors and publishers are breathing down his neck to give them something more daring and exciting in order to excite new readers.
Arthur is hesitant about this due to his love for his characters but to save his series from ending… he’ll try, even if his base instinct is to keep things wholesome and safe. Jenny LeClue herself is dealing with the changes that are brought about by this change in direction. In fact, a murder does shake her tiny little town but it couldn’t possibly who everyone is assuming did it, right? Well, Jenny doesn’t think so. She sets off in order to find out the truth of the matter and clear the name of the innocent.
What I really love about this is that there are dialog options that Jenny gets to choose over the course of her journey. Some of them are in clear defiance of what Arthur wants for the characters and choosing those will get a comment from him as well, which is a really nice touch. The game even keeps track of the choices that you have made and assigns Jenny a personality type to go along with them depending on how you have her react to situations. As far as I can tell there’s not a huge difference based on how you choose to react to things, but it still does add some replay value to the game. However, there are multiple endings, but the choices that decide what will happen at the end are fairly obvious so you’ll know when they’re happening, and if there is a spot that seems like it will end the game really early, take it, it gives you a great little joke ending before throwing you back into the action.
However, on the subject of endings, I was kind of unhappy with how this game ended. It really feels like things are ramping up and we’ve uncovered something so big that there’s no way it could end so soon! Then, after a short scene that explains one of the many mysteries of the game, it ends on a massive cliffhanger. Jenny LeClue Detectivu is clearly the first chapter in a series of games about this character and town, but unless you know that, it’s not at all obvious in any of the store pages, so you shouldn’t go jumping in here if you’re looking for a full and complete story. I was able to find their kickstarter and that implies that this is meant to be a trilogy of games, so this is only the first act. I have to say, though, until that sudden ending, it was a great first act.
The Journey is the point and I have to say that the journey that this game takes us on is a delightful one. The writing is consistently clever. There were a few side characters that I worried might get on my nerves but I ended up coming to absolutely adore by the end of the game. This is helped a lot by some stunning voice acting that I’ll talk a bit more about later. However, despite the cartoony look of this game, I can’t recommend it for anyone under late elementary to early middle school age. There’s some very light language (a few “what the hell”s and “damnit”s with one “screw you” for good measure) and some scenes that are genuinely quite intense.
Normally you would expect a detective game to be primarily puzzle focused, and while there are puzzles in this game, I hesitate to call Jenny LeClue Detectivu a puzzle game. I think it’s more of an adventure game with some light puzzling elements. There are a handful of the puzzle types that are repeated over the course of the game and there is only one that I found to be a little too repetitive for my tastes, though I think that was because it was confined to just one area of the game and popped up quite a bit there.
I never found any of the puzzles that the game gave me to be particularly hard. There were one or two that held me up for a little while, but I don’t think I was ever completely stumped like some other games I have recently played have left me. You’re usually not given much by way of instructions for the puzzles, but so many of them are well telegraphed that I don’t think that’s really needed at all. It was always fairly clear what I was meant to do and even if I was having trouble figuring it out, a little fiddling was all that it would take for me to get the general idea.
A lot more of your time is going to be spent exploring areas and finding things like any good adventure. There are even some extra little side objective items that you can pick up while you’re playing through, like pieces of postcards. I feel like I was pretty thorough in my investigation of areas, but I still missed a lot of what there was to find. However, my favorite collectible by far were the stickers that you can find scattered around the world. Each of these can be used to decorate the cover of Jenny’s journal that she keeps all her case solving notes in. It’s a great little reward and even if I didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking at my immaculately decorated cover, knowing that was something I was able to do brought a nice little personal touch to the game.
Jenny LeClue Detectivu is one of those games that just oozes atmosphere from every corner of it. I was taking screenshots left and right through the entire thing just because it looked like a cartoon that I wished existed. The animation is great and perfectly fluid for what they are trying to do with their art style. The character designs are all distinct and varied so that you can tell who everyone is and what their deal is at just a glance. The best part by far, though, is the color palette. The night is characterized by rich blues and purples and the daytime is drenched in this gorgeous autumnal glow that I couldn’t get enough of. I honestly wish more of the game had taken place during the day as the atmosphere of the daytime segments would have made for a great game to flick on during the Halloween season. The music is similarly atmospheric and suits each location that it’s in from caves to graveyards to the bedrooms of little girls with secrets to hide.
The star of the show when it comes to sound, though, is the vocal cast. The game is fully voiced and each of the main characters are done excellently. Jenny herself starts off as this character that’s just too smart for her own good, but as the game goes on you realize more and more that she has this really biting snark to her and kind of has an ego that’s a bit out of control. Arthur narrates the entire thing, fitting for the author, and his voice was great every time it cut in. It was like this warm voice of a grandfather telling me a bedtime story about a little mystery in a little town while I kept interjecting about the dark underbelly it had. I think CJ was the character saved most by his vocal performance. He’s the local conspiracy theorist and a bit of a loon. It’s a character that is so easy to get wrong and annoy your player with, but his vocal work really held it together enough to endear me. Perhaps it was because he felt a little bit like Doc Brown, but if he was rambling about aliens and shadow men instead of time travel.
The game ran just fine whether I was playing in handheld or on the TV, with text being just as legible on either. I was pleased to see that there were touch controls, carried over from the apple arcade edition of the game I would assume, however, I found these to be a little clunky to use so I stuck primarily to my controllers during my time in Arthurton.
I only ran into a few small problems in terms of how the game ran. There was one point where I accidentally touched my screen in handheld mode and shifted to touch controls. They usually flipped back and forth easily, but this time I got stuck on the touchscreen and had to shut everything down and turn it back on again. There is one other time where the game seemed to load in improperly, but I believe that was from me deliberately moving into a place I shouldn’t have been in that moment. Both of these were easily solved by popping out of the game and restarting it, though, and checkpoints were frequent enough that I was never bothered by it.
Overall, Jenny LeClue Detectivu is a mystery that I would love to recommend to everyone, but that recommendation is forced to come with the caveat that the game ends so suddenly. Just when it feels like things were starting to get really wild and exciting. Yet, at the same time, I’m really looking forward to whatever is to come next for this series and do want to see what the team behind this project can bring. I’d say it’s worth grabbing as long as you don’t mind being left on a cliffhanger for the forseeable future.
- Beautiful visuals and colors
- Consistently clever writing
- Excellent vocal performances
- Abrupt ending may leave players unfulfilled
- Very light technical issues
VerdictJenny LeClue is a delightful mystery adventure game that I am looking forward to seeing more of, likely because the abrupt cliffhanger ending left me needing more.