I’ve always been a big fan of GameHouse’s time-management games and thus, I was very excited to start Detective Jackie – Mystic Case, a game which seemed to be quite different than their usual style. You see, most of the time the player manages a restaurant or salons in time-management games, but this time you’re a detective trying to solve a mysterious case.
At first, I couldn’t quite picture how the gameplay would fit into the game’s theme, but after playing through it, I can tell you that the developers managed to adjust the crime story to the gameplay perfectly.
Detective Jackie – Mystic Case revolves around Jackie Johnson, a detective whose daughter died in a fire 14 years ago. One day, she gets called by the police to investigate the death of a young girl. However, Jackie still has problems with coping with the loss of her daughter, causing her to get emotional as her daughter would have been the same age as the victim had she not passed away. Convinced that there is more to the death than the police think, she decides to continue investigating on her own without relying on them. Evidently, there is much more behind the case than one might guess at first.
As aforementioned, I think the unique thing here is that Detective Jackie – Mystic Case isn’t about managing a restaurant but solving a mysterious crime. The story revolves around Greek Mythology but despite being not really interested in it before, prior knowledge of the subject isn’t necessary to fully understand and enjoy the game as it doesn’t go in-depth with the history, it just borrows the narrative.
Something important to mention is that the story isn’t completed yet as it’s only the first game in the series and it’s not clear how many parts are going to be released. Due to this, I found the ending quite unsatisfying because you discover what ‘the mystery’ is but there is no real resolution. Instead, the game ends in a cliffhanger, meaning we’ll have to play the next game for, hopefully, a more definite conclusion.
Anyone who has played a game by GameHouse before will pretty much know what to expect with the gameplay, although there are a few differences from the old entries. There are 60 stages in total where you have to ‘serve’ clients and keep them happy by acting fast so that you can earn more points. You can earn up to three stars for a stage, but only one star is technically needed to pass. I noticed that around 10 stages are equal to a day in-game and you’ll occasionally move between various locations as the story progresses.
The clients’ happiness is displayed by hearts and they can have four to seven hearts in total, excluding extra hearts which you can unlock later on. When you’re too slow to serve them a heart gets deducted and greyed out, meaning that it’s not possible to fill the maximum amount of hearts anymore – the client starts with three hearts and gets additional ones when you act quickly and complete their requests. However, not every client will have the ability to exceed four or five hearts as some of them only require one or two requests, whereas others may require more.
It’s basically your standard time-management game only you’ll offer help in various ways depending on whether you’re undercover, working with the cops, or in your office.
A new mechanic, over previous titles, is that you don’t upgrade your ‘shop’ or tools directly in Detective Jackie – Mystic Case. Instead, you have a magical ring that unlocks various useful features which you can use in all stages once you’ve upgraded it. The currency to upgrade is purple shards which you earn based on the number of stars you get per stage and unlocking the in-game achievements. The amount of rewarded shards is different per achievement but you seem to obtain them quite fast. Once you pay to unlock a new boost or ability, you have no choice in what gets unlocked, so it’s exciting to see what you get.
That said, one of the other new features here is a ‘call-a-client’ button which fills up over time. I was playing the game on Normal and I found that I had to use this feature regularly in order to have a chance at receiving the three-star rating upon completion, due to not having enough clients to serve otherwise. However, there are three difficulty settings so the higher one may not require you to use it as often and I imagine the easier one will require you to use it even more (if the difficulty also adjusts the number of people who have requests for you).
At times there are mini-scenarios which are unlocked as you reach a certain number of stars within a stage in Detective Jackie – Mystic Case. I found this idea very interesting as it motivates you to try and achieve all the stars, but sadly, they’re usually nothing more than a few seconds helping someone out or finding another clue which doesn’t really impact the narrative of the game.
The annoying thing here was that the game pauses when you unlock them, freezing everyone in time as I complete the mini-task, which greatly disturbed my immersion when I was in the middle of completing the client’s tasks. Sometimes I didn’t even remember what I was going to do right after the scenario had finished, so I lost some time due to thinking and had a few combo-chains break on me – time matters a lot in time-management games. However, besides the pausing, these segments are made really well as they’re not just story, they sometimes have mini-games to play as well.
Finally, there are some investigation stages where instead of serving clients, you’re interrogating other characters! There are multiple choices available when playing these parts and although there are no wrong answers per se, some achievements can only be unlocked by choosing the right combination of answers. Although the answers you give don’t have any impact on the story, missing out shards means that you cannot fully upgrade your ring. I enjoyed this new feature as you can freely choose which topic you want to know more about and if you want to choose other answers, you can easily just replay the chapter to see every possible reaction instead of having to replay a large portion of the game.
Additionally, you can link clues together to come to other discoveries as you play, just like in games such as The Sinking City, only simplified.
Detective Jackie – Mystic Case is a unique time management game, I really like how they combined the gameplay and new features with an interesting mystery story. Players don’t only have to manage the various clients and colleagues, they have to work with Jackie in order to solve the crimes and uncover the mystery via mini-games, narrative interactions, and interrogations. As I grew to like Jackie more and more, I’d hoped for a good ending to wrap everything up but alas, we’ll have to wait until the next game in the series to maybe receive the true conclusion to the story.
All in all, Detective Jackie – Mystic Case is a time management game that borrows elements from a lot of the other GameHouse games, yet the developers managed to create something refreshing and unique with this very interesting game.