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Jenny LeClue - Detectivu Review

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1801102639_JennyLeCluelogo.jpg.293ec77a37450f082530da2113433c24.jpgSix years ago, developer Mografi Kickstarted their mystery adventure game, Jenny LeClue - Detectivu. Last year the game released on PC and mobile devices, and now Switch owners have the opportunity to experience the mystery as well. Was the game worth the wait? The clues in this case are impeccable writing filled with humor and heart, stylish presentation, and engaging mystery gameplay, leading to only one logical deduction.
Our protagonist, Jenny LeClue, is a confident, precocious young girl determined to follow in the detective footsteps of her mother. But Arthurton, their sleepy hometown, is a seemingly quiet, hohum place lacking in the kinds of mysteries and adventures that Jenny craves. That is, until a murder most foul occurs right under Jenny's nose, providing the perfect opportunity to flex her detective muscles and uncover Arthurton's unknown secrets. As a mystery story, Jenny LeClue is a complete success. The writing will easily draw you in to learn more about Arthurton and its inhabitants, as well as the mysterious goings-on under the surface. There are plenty of enticing, dangling threads to pull that will easily hook anyone that enjoys a good mystery. The game is also filled with quirky characters that are a lot of fun to interact with, including Jenny herself and her plucky, determined attitude. Be forewarned though: the title of the game doesn't make it clear but this is only part one of a planned series of games, which means the ending is a bit abrupt and leaves a lot unanswered. It's still an intriguing story and well worth exploring, but the inconclusive finale may bother some.
I should also mention that the entire game is encapsulated as a story within a story. Within the game, "Jenny LeClue" is actually a series of children's mystery novels, formerly successful but recent waning sales have put the author, Arthur Finklestein, into the uncomfortable predicament of needing to shake up his story formula. Chapters of the game are punctuated by interludes where we see Arthur's writing process and his struggle to create an engaging mystery for his publisher without betraying his writing principles. It's an interesting way of framing the story and leads to some fun scenes where Arthur's narration seems to push against Jenny's own thoughts and behavior.
The gameplay blends some light adventure elements with investigation and puzzle-solving, all in a side-scrolling 2D environment. The game's world is divided into small areas where Jenny can explore, examine objects and clues, and interrogate townsfolk. Interrogations play out as mini-investigations: Jenny will examine a person to pick up clues about their actions, then put those clues together for a logical conclusion. Outside of these character interactions, the gameplay is largely classic adventure game content, i.e. you're presented with a locked door, so you examine the surrounding area to find some way of opening it. The gameplay overall is solid though a lot of the puzzles are a bit too easy. For an adventure game—and particularly a mystery game—you'd expect the puzzles to require some serious thought, but that's rarely the case in Jenny LeClue. That's not all bad, since it does mean the game is quite comfortably paced, but there was definitely room for some more complex gameplay elements, especially for a future ace detective.
You can expect to spend around eight or nine hours with Jenny LeClue, even when you take the time to really examine everything in any given area. There are small rewards for doing so, including stickers you can use to decorate Jenny's trusty detective's journal, and postcard scraps that you can put together to reveal fun little messages. You may also want to replay the game just to test out different conversation branches. You can sometimes choose Jenny's response during conversations, which doesn't seem to change the story on a fundamental level but can lead to some different dialogue that might be fun to see if you just can't get enough of Jenny LeClue.
The game's visual style is striking, sporting sharp cartoonish designs and some beautiful color palettes, all animated with a puppeted style that is a lot of fun to see. It really helps to bring these quirky characters to life and make them particularly endearing, from the pot-bellied, jovial college dean to the lanky and good-natured best friend. The music does a fine job of setting an engaging mystery atmosphere, but it's the voice acting that is the real star of the show in the audio department. There's a lot of great voice work throughout the game that perfectly completes the charm of these characters.
Jenny LeClue - Detectivu spins an intriguing mystery story set in an utterly charming little town filled with fun, engaging characters. Though the gameplay perhaps doesn't live up to its potential, the brisk pace of puzzle solving ensures you're always moving one step close to cracking the case. Even if there aren't head-scratching puzzles around every corner, Arthurton is still a joy to explore. The fact that the overarching mystery isn't fully resolved may also disappoint some, but it'll also leave you excited to see what new mysteries Jenny will solve in the next chapter of her story.
Rating: 9 out of 10 Clues
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