being what it is, and the number of games that are sitting in my
library, it took a while to get back to Jessika, a game I gave a first
look last year.
at the time I was intrigued by what I had played to date. I remained
intrigued for a good portion of its four-ish hours of playtime, but its
twists led me through a number of different feelings, including
unsettled and confronted. I ended up at distinctly ill at ease.
story involves the suicide of the titular character, and a desire by her
father to find out why. That is your job, one you do entirely from your
laptop while sitting in a cafe, following the breadcrumbs of Jessika's
given that as you are dealing with a suicide, this won’t be a “fun”
story. A screen that comes up as you log-on to your game-world laptop
makes clear there is more material that “might be considered
disturbing”. This may include “excessive swearing, references to drugs
and alcohol, rape and hate speech”.
across all of those.
investigation involves finding and accessing files, done by typing key
words into the search field. So lets say you type in “elephant”; any
relevant files will be identified. Some of these you might be able to
open (simply click to access), but others might remain locked, requiring
one or more further search words to “decrypt” the file.
obviously isn’t just random typing, although there were times when I did
a bit of that. Paying attention to the information in the files you can
open might suggest subsequent search terms to try. As well, as you
access files the bits and pieces of Jessika’s life will start to unfold,
providing context for possible other relevant terms. Keep going, and
build a picture of what has happened.
picture though will build in the order you open the files. While the
early-in-time files tend to be those that you open with one search term,
and the later ones require more terms, if your access is anything like
mine it will be nothing like sequential, and will leap around the time
frame. That will increase as you move through the game.
quite liked this aspect, as it meant you had to juggle the pieces in
your head, and the clips themselves (where they were shot, how Jessika
is presented) help you place them accordingly. It can be rather
disjointed though, and I found it helped to play in large chunks.
would have been nice to have had the capacity to sort the files
sequentially. Before its decrypted, the file has a meaningless name.
Once decrypted though, its name reflects both the type of file it is (eg.
log, scan, txt) and where it fits (eg. log-001). However you can’t sort
them to review in sequence, nor can you identify them in any way that
makes them readily accessible. You can label files as a favourite (a
little gold star), which will make those files accessible through the
favourites tab, but the files will be there in the order you favourited
Simplistically, near as I could fathom, if you want to review the files
in their correct order you need to write down the search terms that gave
the initial access to the files, then work through those search terms to
pull up the files and watch accordingly.
sounds like a whole heap of nuisance, but as I said it doesn’t matter
too much. If you play in a few close together sittings, you can hold the
threads in your head and it more closely resembles how you would
investigate such a thing. I never did try and watch it in order, but it
would have been nice to have had a bit more control over how you might
review what you had already uncovered.
Googling after the event indicates there are just over 170 files in
total, the majority of which are short little video clips, playing in a
small window on your laptop. Other files include things like articles,
drawings, and text logs.
get Steam achievements as you go, largely irrelevant to the goings-on
but not all. One helps identify the end, though the game has not ended.
Perhaps the best way to describe it is that you can still find and
review files past a point at which what happened has largely been pieced
a little one-dimensional – enter a word, find files, watch the files,
repeat – but the length ensured it didn’t become tedious.
open a file you can leave it open, and minimise it to the bottom ribbon
of your laptop. I tended to close them, unless there was dialogue I
wanted to review. That dialogue will be accessible in written text if
you want, meaning you don’t have to watch the video again.
game is set in Germany and you can choose the spoken word and language
text. I played in German with English text, which was in keeping with
the setting. It also avoided my personal annoyance with dubbed audio,
which always seems stilted and unnatural. Its good though to have
play, your colleagues will text you, as will Jessika’s father, and you
will receive emails pertinent and spammy. Responding to texts is part of
the game (choose from three offered responses), but I couldn’t see that
it had any bearing on how things played out. Again, some Googling
suggests that is the case.
game world is the laptop screen, and apart from the video files it's a
static rather plain one. Things do move past in the background, in the
café behind the laptop, but its more movement than any notion of what is
going on. You can save at will, and it (obviously) plays with the use of
the keyboard as well as the mouse. The video clips are good quality, and
to my recollection are all of Jessika, mostly speaking to camera.
Jessika herself does an excellent job. She changes as the game
progresses, and sells her transformation and the relevant events really
themes in the warning, particularly the hate speech, produced the range
of feelings mentioned earlier. Not because Jessika explores those
issues, but because it came across as one sided and rather shouty. It
might be unfair, but it left me feeling as if it was feeding me a
particular ideological line, and not one I was at all comfortable with.
Perhaps I missed the nuance amongst the noise, but my final impression
remains an uneasy one.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB
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