When I first fired this up, knowing next to nothing about it, I wasn’t
sure it was going to be my sort of thing. A bit too casual perhaps, a
little too Nancy Drew-ish maybe, and possibly best suited to a younger
audience. But not too far in and my feelings started to change, and I
have to confess to having 12 or so hours of solidly excellent fun.
In terms of its challenge it remains adventure-lite throughout, and
“gentle” is perhaps the best description. But it delivers a
rollicking good “girls own” adventure, one with a surprising twist
or two, and which grows in mysteriousness as we move along.
There is wit (very well done), as well as strength, and sadness, plus
some teenage tension and cliques. There are also some surprisingly
strong moments, and I hesitated a couple of times before making one of
the many choices that arise throughout. I got the impression these were
more about helping to draw me into the story than they were with
determining the path of the events, and they did that well.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the main protagonist is the eponymous
detective Jenny LeClue. A bit more surprisingly, she is fictional within
the game world. More of that in a moment.
Young, driven and intelligent, Jenny thinks of herself as smarter
than most everyone else, and while there is a lot to admire about her
she is far from a flawless heroine. How contrary she might be you can
decide through the choices the game gives you throughout – cajole or
encourage, confront or support. Regardless of your choices, you might
want to shake her at times, and hug her at others.
Many other characters are equally well rounded, but of all of them,
Jenny’s wanna be best friend Suzie was my favourite. Discover her for
yourself, and enjoy.
As indicated, Jenny is not “real”. Rather, she is the invention
of Arthur K Finklestein, and is the main character in his series books.
The novels are set in the town of Arthurton, where nothing mysterious
ever seems to happen and Jenny yearns for a case more challenging than
finding lost reading glasses or missing test papers. But after 38 books,
Arthur well knows what he likes, and things look like continuing in the
same vein. However in the face of falling sales, Arthur’s editors
demand that Arthur introduce some “real world” intrigue into the
events, or else his book contract is over.
What results is Arthur at his writing desk, wrestling with these
outrageous demands and typing the adventure that unfolds. We quickly go
from mundane to serious intrigue, with shadowy figures and where nothing
is as it seems.
While the bulk of the game is spent in Jenny’s world, we do spend
time in the “real” world with Arthur, ruminating with him over
strawberry jam and bouncing thoughts off his dog. You can explore his
desk to uncover more of his creative process, and you also help him make
a significant character decision towards the end of the game.
Arthur is also present in the game world, popping up to provide
narration about things Jenny might be doing or what she might be
thinking. What’s more, some of the best interaction occurs “between”
Jenny and Arthur, as he writes what he intends and she does what she
wants. It helps make his creation real, which is how I imagine many
authors feel about their characters.
The game ends “to be continued”, and with some big threads left
open. I wasn’t disappointed, as I thought there was significant
closure across the game, and that some matters unresolved were recent
developments. There are also some really big issues that require at
least another 12 hours to properly uncover, but you might feel
There is no spoken word, which suits the fact that we are playing a
book. How people sound is in your head, as it is in books, and I would
far prefer that to less than satisfactory voice acting. Dialogue appears
in a ribbon at the bottom of the screen, with a headshot of the person
speaking. It is delivered in a way that reflects how the author intends
it to be received, although if you are impatient you can click to force
the whole ribbon to be disclosed. Even then, you might not have more
than a few words, and my advice would be to just let it unfold as it
occurs. You will though have to click to advance the completed dialogue
on a very frequent basis.
Despite no spoken word, it is nonetheless a rich game in terms of
auditory input, with excellent ambient sounds supported by an equally
good musical score. It accentuates mood, as a good score should, as
opposed to just being background music.
The animation style is engaging and well suited to the vibe of the
thing. Characters look a little like those paper dolls you cut out and
dressed with cut out clothes, but are animated to a wonderful degree.
Facial expressions are just the start; Jenny pushes her spectacles up
her nose, her coat swishes as she moves quickly, her legs sway as she
shimmies along a rope. Little details matter; in one part Jenny will
visibly reach to her collar and switch on or off a light as she moves
from a light to a dark area. Lighting more generally changes, inside,
outside, night and day, and underground. I thought it was all top notch.
The game is played in the third person and is predominantly side
scrolling, and is generally viewed from side on as such games are (there
is a top down perspective for one sequence). However the combination of
the camera zooming in and out and the scene construction itself adds
depth and perspective to the scenes. Even though moving right, Jenny
will look sometimes as if she is walking down steps and towards you,
meaning there is nothing flat about the final product.
Cut scenes are plenty, and add another layer to the storytelling.
As well as left and right, Jenny needs to move up and down, climbing
ladders and other things. She also jumps and leaps, pushes and pulls,
but there is no dexterity or timing required. The most complicated it
gets is pressing two keys together (e.g. forward and enter) to make her
execute the necessary jump.
It is a game that is played entirely with the keyboard, but you can
map the keys to suit you, thanks to a recent update. The game autosaves,
indicated by an icon bottom left, and if you try and exit it will tell
you how long it is since the last save. On one occasion it said 16
minutes ago, so I was minded to press on rather than repeat that 16
minutes. That was the outrider, with saves being reasonably frequent.
As you walk back and forth, little green diamonds will become visible
over items of interest, and as you draw closer, the diamond will be
replaced by a pop up message saying something like “investigate the
machine” or “read the sign”. That might result in a close up in
which you move the cursor around the screen to find the active hotspots
to investigate said machine, or whatever the item is. Interrogating
people works the same way; a close up of the individual concerned
requires you to identify the various clues by moving the cursor around
the image. The number of clues to be found will be made known to you.
At various times, usually after an interrogation, you will be
required to make a deduction. This involves picking those three pieces
of information from about five or six things known that will answer the
question posed. If you aren’t correct, you get to try again.
As well, walking about might result in the image of a magnifying
glass appearing. Activating it results in you searching the screen in
front of you for an item not visible other than with the glass. There
are many items to be found just for fun, stickers with which you can
decorate your journal, or scraps of postcards you can assemble when you
have found all of them, but some things necessary for moving on require
the magnifying glass. So ignore the image at your peril!
Just on that, I did find that if I made Jenny run I was more likely
to miss generating the magnifying glass. So hasten judicially perhaps.
You find items, but you don’t have an inventory in the traditional
sense. If Jenny needs an item you have found the game will just move on.
Out and out puzzles will also be generated through the little pop up
messages. Some repeat, including tuning in radio frequencies and picking
None are hard, like the game in general, and there were quite a few
of them, which was a plus. While I didn’t need more of some of them,
none were overdone to the point of being tedious or annoying. The level
of difficulty also ensures the tale keeps moving along.
I admit to forsaking the sticker hunt for moving on, and having
interrogated my journal at the end it looked like I found just over half
of the 60 that are available. I also only completed two of the four
postcards, and didn’t even generate some of the choices available
(kept track of under the nifty “choosiness” journal tab). I also
have about 15 Steam achievements outstanding.
As a result of an update (which seems to be the result of the makers
responding to the feedback), you can now jump back into the game at the
beginning of any of the 44 scenes, to find more stuff or make different
choices. As far as I can tell, you can do that without affecting the
completed chapters, unless of course you choose to play from that point.
Which for me simply means I can go back and try to find the stuff I
You can tweak things at the settings screen, including whether you
have a time limit to make your choices.
I like a game that surprises me, and this did that. I enjoyed it far
more than I thought I would, it went places I wasn’t expecting, and
many elements were far better done than in other games. Well done to all
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700k 3.7 GHz