Woof! Absolutely was not the intention to leave our next post this long, but doesn’t that ‘real life’ thing have the darnedest habit of getting in the way? We hope it’s been a wholesome time for everyone in a world as full of plot twists and surprises as (wait for it, epic segue inbound) the very best adventure games.
Hoo-hah! Way to railroad us back on topic. The missus and I have been enjoying winding down from the madcap days that ended 2020 with Mografi’s excellent Jenny LeClue: Detectivu on the Nintendo Switch. Unless I’m mistaken, this console edition of the game’s based on the Spoken Secrets Edition update released for the Steam version of Jenny LeClue.
The titular Jenny LeClue is an investigative wunderkind, taking after her mother in boasting astounding skills of deductive reasoning, observation, logic and mental agility. Her perspective of the world is overlaid sensationally over an already-punchy art direction for the game, which looks superb in both docked and handheld Switch play and responds well to the console’s controls.
Jenny dwells in Arthurton, a quaint little town where everyone knows your name, and itself the focal community beloved by a kindly mystery novel author. It’s his undesired pressure to spice up his book series that actually provides the impetus for many of the game’s events, and as you might well expect, young Jenny’s own boredom with her hometown is to be short-lived as the game unfolds. After all, nothing is as it seems…
The first thing any player is likely to notice about Jenny LeClue is the polish and pizzazz layered lavishly upon the title. Conversations are lively, well-voiced affairs that see close-ups and snappy camerawork ping your perspective between participants.
Although binary, the game often gives you timed dialogue choices that shape Jenny’s responses to the situations that come her way, and the questions put to her by a likeable and inventive supporting cast.
Intriguingly, these decisions shape Jenny’s persona as you go through the game, and her diary can be called up at any time to gauge how she is in the scale between pragmatic, emotional, prepared, impulsive and other traits. It gives a great sense of a young mind pushed to its limits and shaped by her experiences.
Jenny LeClue is an adventure game streamlined to its core components of puzzles, conversations and a dash or two of pixel-hunting that never outstays its welcome. Much like Little Misfortune, players navigate a gorgeously crafted series of scenes in a largely 2D plane, moving left and right.
There’s not a great deal of inventory-based problem solving and you won’t be personally combining objects with one another, or other people. Instead, key items are collected as part of the plot and used automatically as required, meaning your mind will instead be tested against brainteasers, riddles, logic puzzles and some pretty enjoyable code-cracking.
We’re skirting around the plot itself on purpose, because this is best experienced directly and without as much foreknowledge as you possibly can. Although a vibrant and cartoony world, the darker side of Jenny LeClue rears its head every so often, and although there’s no blood and gore, the more sinister side of life gets a look in every so often in atmospheric ways that make this a game with surprising depth and maturity.
Naturally, Jenny herself is somewhat self-absorbed from time to time, suffering an inflated ego that also feels natural to what a child prodigy would be like. The events of the game test her mettle in more ways than one, though, and she soon discovers that even those whom she’s known all her life could have layers beneath that have eluded even her sharpest of senses.
Jenny’s visually arresting adventure is enriched by some superb voice work in the Nintendo Switch edition of the game we’ve played through, and the storyline itself lasts a decent 10 hours or more. We went into this game with no expectations beyond our own curiosity, and the puzzles and pacing are strong enough that we never needed a guide or felt frustrated at a lack of motivation or momentum.
In other words, you needn’t fear any style over substance here. Although Jenny LeClue does plenty differently than many adventure games gone before it, it’s a fantastic and surprising adventure game that makes the most of its small town secrecy dynamic.
While a reliance on string-sting attempted jump-scares can sometimes seem overdone, and the title itself joins the pantheon of adventure game greats in conversations about One Of Those Endings™, Jenny LeClue: Detectivu is a stylish, smart and enjoyable romp with plenty of intrigue to back up its flair.
We’re definitely hoping to see the adventures of Jenny LeClue continue, and can’t wait to see what other mysteries lie in wait within the seemingly sleepy suburbs of old Arthurton — complete with its remarkably aesthetic views and vistas!
Inspired by the artistic and adventurous brilliance on display, our very own Frankie concocted some fan-art of a more realistic styled Jenny. What mysteries await her next?
As for this solid debut for a fantastic new character and an enigmatic new game-world? Captivating from start to finish, Jenny LeClue has wit and whimsy in equal measure, set against a backdrop of secrets so deep you’ll need a shovel just to scratch the surface.