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Jenny LeClue – Detectivu Review

Jenny LeClue – Detectivu follows the story of a teenage super-sleuth, the best-selling teenage detective by author Arthur K Finklestein. Due to a lull in book sales, Jenny’s world is about to turn upside down.

If you’ve ever wanted to delve deep into one of your childhood books, getting a real feel of the characters, weave in and out of the lush scenery that fills the background, then use your imagination. The next best step? play Jenny LeClue – Detectivu.

What appears to be a point and click adventure for children, soon materialises into an engaging meta experience that doesn’t talk down to the audience, giving them the respect and freedom to explore the town of Arthurton.

Jenny LeClue – Detectivu Review (Nintendo Switch)

The Jenny LeClue series could well be a real franchise as the characters and locations seem to carry a weight to them as if this is one of many adventures in the series – like a follow up to an already successful game.

But Jenny LeClue is the creation of fictitious author Arthur K Finklestein. He’s developed Jenny’s story over the years to much acclaim, but the publishers are now pilling on the pressure as book sales have dwindled. How can he counter this? Introduce real deaths into the narrative.

Reluctant to change the tone so drastically, he succumbs and kills off a character, framing Jenny’s mother, a university lecturer and somewhat brilliant detective like her daughter. This leaves our titular hero to investigate, solve the crime, and have her mother acquitted.

Jenny LeClue - Detectivu - Respect
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Source: PR

Quite the turn for a children’s story, but it’s a troubling sign of the times for Finklestein as his audience has matured, and their interests and expectations changed. To add to his woes, Finklestein, the narrator of the story often comes to blows with Jenny as she questions his storytelling technique, desperate for adventure. It’s almost like a self-aware Duck Amuck re-rendering, and quite simply, brilliant.

Jenny is as annoying as any smartarse her age. She’s the kind of kid I’d have disliked at school, and playing her as she spews out cocky quips made me wish Finklestein had killed her off like the publishers sort of wanted. But she really is quite clever, and her thought process is enviable with boastful powers of deduction that would garner the interest of a certain Mr Holmes. John 😛

As irritating as she is, it’s a pleasure to play as the young detective, not because you are Jenny LeClue, but because you get to experience her world. Arthurton, as alluded to in the intro, is gorgeous. It really does feel like an illustrated picturebook come alive before your very eyes.

As Pretty As A Picture(book)

Of course, with that picturebook quality, the animation does feel a little unnatural. When Jenny runs, it’s a bit janky and very much like a cut-out effect when that isn’t the design choice. Nevertheless, there’s no question about the top-class visual presentation, as well as the sound design.

The voice acting is marvellous. For a game that heavily relies on its dialogue scenes, it’s imperative that Mografi got this right. They did. Finklestein is perfectly suited, and despite her annoying whines and proclamations throughout, Jenny is well cast too.

Other than the animation, which really isn’t an issue and just preference, the foregrounds in the game, while beautiful, were a little annoying as they dominate the screen, if temporarily, and sometimes you have to walk back and forth so see everything in the mid/background. 

Why does this pose a problem? Part of Jenny’s investigative process means pulling out a magnifying glass to move around as a cursor looking for clues. Occasionally something may pique your interest, but a piece of furniture or tree pops up in front. This can be avoided, but in some scenes, the presentation has taken priority over the gameplay.

Jenny LeClue - Detectivu - Bookworm
Bookworm. Source: PR

The way Jenny LeClue – Detecivu is ‘shot’ was also a bit irritating. No doubt with the intent of keeping the attention of younger gamers, the camera darts about like a YouTube influencer video; close up shots where nothing’s happening or panning back and forth – it just seems there for distraction and a little irritating.

On the contrary, the game doesn’t feel fast-paced at all and relatively leisurely. Using these camera techniques felt a little cheap, but re-reading this comment, just seems like I’m looking for flaws for the sake of it. I’m not, and as a whole, Jenny LeClue – Detecivu, from Mografi, outweighs these trivial criticisms.

Dear Journal

For the majority of the game, you’ll encounter puzzles, but mostly interrogations and conversations with NPCs where you can choose a response. But remember, Jenny’s a detective so aside from grilling the perps, she also has to put a case together before making any accusations.

These sections are like a blend of the Batman Telltale series and Dora the Explorer rolled into one. Jenny will produce a mini-flow chart for the player to cross-reference each clue to conclude. As an adult and veteran adventure gamer, these puzzles were intuitive, but just the right challenge for newcomers and a younger audience. 

Jenny is the note-taker type. In the introduction, her mother gifts her a journal which serves as your in-game menu detailing a list of objectives and clues on what to do next. A lot is going on at times, so it’s quite easy to get a little overwhelmed and forget where you were, so the journal is a good reference point. Besides, you can decorate it with stickers too. There’s the ‘c’ word – customisation.

Looking at my gameplay notes and the screenshots, the evidence is overwhelming: Jenny LeClue – Detectivu is a stunning game – one of the best-looking adventure titles on the Switch without question. The voice acting is equally on par, but a high sheen won’t disguise any flaws for long.

Fortunately, the game has an engaging story, given the target audience and content. In some ways, it’s an appetiser for a younger audience to perform their own investigative work by seeking out classic point and click adventures that this so expertly emulates. It’s just a little light on some of the more absurd challenges expected of the genre.

Jenny LeClue - Detectivu - Just cause
A just cause. Source: PR

Do note that the game does lack the ability to save manually, which was mildly irritating as due to the volume of games on my desk, I had to play intermittently and as a result, had to repeat a few sections. But you’ll note that the majority of these negatives are pretty minor.

In fear of a spoiler, the game does have a bit of an inconclusive ending, so don’t expect to be wholly satisfied with the result. Let’s say that this might be the first in an episodic series. Don’t let that deter you, though; it’s enjoyable throughout.

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