Every now and again a game pops up which I’ve never heard of, yet it instantly grabs my attention. The latest game which I knew I had to play, just by watching the trailer, was the incredible Jenny LeClue – Detectivu, a mysterious adventure game filled with suspense, puzzles, surprises, and murder! I love adventure games and although this one was much simpler than other games I’ve played this year, the narrative and overall concept kept me fully invested and wanting more!
Both developed and published by Mografi, Jenny LeClue – Detectivu started life as a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014, smashing its goal and raising over $100,000! The amount raised covered the PC release, an update on the assets and a full vocal track for every character. However, the game launched in September 2019 with no voice acting on Steam, but it later added it just in time for the Nintendo Switch launch at the end of August.
Although the Kickstarter says the money raised was for part one of a three-part story, this has now changed into a two-part adventure. As such, what we have here is the first instalment with its own self-contained story that’ll bleed into the next exciting episode. But, stepping back and taking a look at it for what we have today, is it worth picking up? Let’s find out…
Jenny LeClue is a young, enthusiastic budding detective who wishes to step into her mother’s shoes and solve the many mysteries of the world. There’s only one small problem, she lives in the quaint town of Arthurton, a sleepy town where nothing out of the ordinary ever seems to happen. Well, that’s all about to change as events occur which pushes young Jenny into an adventure she could have never anticipated…
Following a rather unusual murder, both in terms of what happens and the fact it took place in Jenny’s home town, the number one suspect is none other than Jenny’s mother! Determined that her mother is innocent, Jenny sets out to prove her innocence and free her from whatever prison she’s been locked up within. However, things aren’t as they seem in Arthurton – when you’re not solving puzzles and investigating secret locations, you’ll find yourself trying to outrun a shadowy figure whilst uncovering the truth.
Although this is only part one of Jenny’s adventure, the story is self-contained with its own narrative it sets out to tell (around 15-hours to complete). In my opinion, the game ends at an awkward moment, making you really wish there was more to it, but that just makes you more excited about the next instalment.
The interesting thing is that the developers have said that the choices you make and the actions you perform within this particular episode will carry over with you into the next, making the story more personal to your playthrough and experience. However, seeing as the first game has only just come out, it may be a while until we actually see the thrilling conclusion to, Jenny LeClue – Detectivu…
Jenny LeClue – Detectivu is an adventure puzzle game, taking control of the young protagonist as you move left and right on a beautiful 2D landscape interacting with various people and objects. However, although the gameplay lies with Jenny, the actual story is told from the perspective of Arthur K. Finklestein, the author who created Jenny… Sorry, did I forget to mention that part?
Arthur is a well-known writer who has had a number of successful books published which revolves around the adventures of Jenny, her mother, and the town of Arthurton. However, his publisher has asked that someone dies in the latest book, pushing him to create this new adventure which revolves around a murder in the quiet town. So, although the action is from the point of view of the (possibly) fictional Jenny, the actual story is held together by cut-backs to Arthur.
If you’ve ever seen the film ‘Stranger Than Fiction’, Jenny LeClue – Detectivu reminds me a lot of it.
The concept that you’re possibly playing a fictional character isn’t just there for show either, it perfectly sets up the multi-choice mechanics throughout the game. Sure, you could just say that the many options you can pick are just your way of helping Jenny make up her mind with what she wants to do, but it’s also as if you’re actually Arthur as you write how her story progresses with each action you pick.
Do your choices matter?
Throughout the game, you’ll encounter 70 choices, each one giving you two options to pick from. Some are subtle, such as choosing whether to be mean to a person or if you should be very mean to them, and others are more tied to the story, such as ignoring a warning and flicking a switch or finding another way to solve the puzzle. Each choice you make is stored in your journal.
But what do they do? Well, your journal has a personalised depiction of what kind of person you are, showing you various sliders based on your choices and an overall impression of who you’ve become. Various choices will also change the immediate and future dialogue within the game and the devs have advised that they will also be used to mould certain events and situations in part two.
To put it simply, they work a lot like the choices we saw in the Telltale series’, not game-changing but they make some subtle differences. Also, once you’ve completed the game you can go back and play any of the previous chapters, seeing what the alternative choices do – I imagine this will play a bigger part on the PS4 with the trophies (when it launches on there).
I love Jenny’s notebook – not only can you design the cover and every page with one of the sixty stickers you find lying around as you investigate, but it’s full of useful information. Aside from the list of choices you made (I completed the game and there’s still about ten choices I never even encountered!), you have case files, a map, and postcards.
Your case file is a 38-page scrapbook written by a teenager! It’s presented in multi-colours, has various doodles in it, Jenny jots down all her clues and thoughts about the case, and it also offers hints on what to do next. I love this and if Jenny LeClue – Detectivu ever gets a physical release, I hope they print this as a physical book and include it with the game.
The map is very basic and not very helpful, as it only shows an overview of Arthurton, but it’s a nice extra to have. The postcards are a collection of four torn images which you can piece back together – if you find all the pieces. I managed to complete two of these, with one piece off the third, but there’s no reward other than seeing the completed image so I’ve not invested my time into looking for the final pieces.
Also, because they are postcards, you can flip them and read the message on the back – again, once completed.
Jenny LeClue – Detectivu contains a few styles of puzzles, you have your standard ones which you see in most adventure games (only with a twist to make them more unique) and investigation and interrogation segments. These parts remind me a lot of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments. You look your suspect up and down, searching for a key element or something out of place which you can enquire about or use to form a deduction from.
Jenny LeClue really is a mini-Sherlock!
Similarly, when you reach certain parts in the game you’ll be required to almost reconstuct a chain of events or put together a plan of what to do next. This is presented, once again, as we saw in Sherlock Holmes and The Sinking City – you use your ‘mind palace’ to piece things together, only this time it’s simply picking the right options in your notebook. If you choose the right items, people, or situations, then you’ll come to the correct conclusion and the story will progress, if not then you have to pick them again.
I never found any of the puzzles too difficult or the solutions too obscure, the game had a great pace and offered hints when it felt you needed them so that you’re not sat there for hours wondering what to do. I’d say that the game is perfectly balanced for people of all ages and all skill levels – if you want to play a very interesting story with fun puzzles and beautiful visuals, then you should already have this game in your library!
How to play
The game initially launched on PC, Apple Arcade and MacOS, so as you’d expect, there are a few ways you can play the game on the hybrid console. If you’re playing whilst docked, or you want a more traditional control method, you can use the Joy-cons or Pro Controller to move about and interact with things. Alternatively, you can fully control the game via the touch-screen as you would on an iOS device.
I personally used the controller as it felt more responsive and easier to use, but the touch works just as well as you’d expect from a point-and-click-style game on mobile devices.
The developers have also included a rather strange visual option, one which I had enabled for about 90% of my entire playthrough because I found it quite funny – Halloween mode! This swaps out Jenny’s clothes with a spooky skeleton costume and mask. It doesn’t change the gameplay at all, and she still acts as if she’s wearing her standard clothes, but it’s a bit of fun.
However, when you pick this mode you see Jenny not only dressed up but literally green in makeup – don’t worry, about halfway into the game she changes from being a girl in a costume to wearing the full-on green-face outfit!
Jenny LeClue – Detectivu is up there with the best 2D adventure games I’ve ever played – visually it looks gorgeous with a wide range of locations and quirky characters, and the story is very interesting and had me hooked throughout. I was a little disappointed with the ending but we were advised beforehand to be aware that the game is the first part in a multi-episode adventure, so instead of upsetting me it simply left me wanting more.
The voice acting is beyond perfect, I love that the developers stuck to the goals they achieved during their Kickstarter campaign and managed to implement high-quality voices – even if it was post-launch on PC. Every character is unique and oozed with personality, with the perfect actor chosen to voice them. I’d like to especially congratulate Elinor Lawless who voiced both Jenny LeClue and her mother, she did an amazing job and I hope she returns in part two.
Also, I don’t think I mentioned this but the game was essentially created by a two-man development team, Joe Russ and Ben Tillett. They did pretty much everything between each other, including a bunch of the voices, alongside a few additional people in regards to QA, concept art, PR and marketing. For such a small team, I was beyond impressed with the final product.
Jenny LeClue – Detectivu is one of the best adventure games I’ve played on the Switch since buying one. The beautiful visuals, brilliant voice acting, thrilling and mysterious story, and intuitive gameplay all combine to create an experience you’ll instantly become hooked to and unable to put down. Although this is only part one of two, it doesn’t feel like anything was cut or removed – it tells the story it set out to tell and builds up your excitement and hype for the next episode.
If you’re a fan of adventure games, either the modern Telltale style or old-school point-and-click ones, you should certainly check out Jenny LeClue – Detectivu today. It’s a funny, mysterious, spooky, and heartwarming adventure you’ll never forget.
Jenny LeClue - Detectivu£18.99
- - Very interesting story with fun puzzles and lots of choices to make
- - Investigation segments, like in the Sherlock Holmes games
- - Great voice acting and music, it really builds the atmosphere and immerses you within the town of Arthurton
- - Visually the game is beautiful, very colourful and artistic yet creepy and mysterious
- - Various ways to play and can be enjoyed by people of all ages
- - Not a negative but the ending is a bit of a 'WTF' moment, making you wish you could carry on playing
- - I want part two, now...