Have you played the playable teaser for Jenny LeClue – Detectivu yet? Well if not, then you’re missing out on a charming sneak peek at the experiences of a young gumshoe. This forthcoming point-and-click adventure from developer Mografi tells the tale of Jenny LeClue, as narrated by the author of her tale Arthur K. Finkelstein. She longs for adventure in a quaint college town, and you get to guide her through it after her mother is accused of murdering the college’s dean. Though the game’s whimsical air and the youth of its strong (and female!) protagonist might suggest that Jenny LeClue is for a younger audience, the developers promise that “complex relationships will be explored with themes of family, loss, and identity influenced by horror, sci-fi, and mystery genres.”
So far only the playable teaser is out and the exact release date is yet to be announced, but there is already a lot to love. This snapshot of the game, available for download from the game’s official website, features a beautiful art style (including some stunning typography, which shines in the context of playing a game as it is being written by an author) and the witty dialogue that is a staple of the point-and-click adventure. Jenny LeClue also offers hidden details to be found during dialogue and while exploring the expansive town of Arthurton. For example, in the demo there is an eerie elk skull that thoroughly spooks Jenny. Though as far as you know it isn’t directly related to your search for clues, more information about its dark past and the murder it once witnessed can be found while searching through books.
One of the most exciting mechanics to be employed by Jenny LeClue is the element of choice. In fact, the developers will even factor in choices made by the players when making the next episodes in what they envision to be a trilogy of Jenny LeClue games. The beautiful use of color in Jenny LeClue’s art, the historical background hidden in books and the environment, and this choice-based mechanic all bring to mind Night School Studio’s excellent thriller Oxenfree. The choices not only affect Jenny’s story, but they extend to the meta-narrative that is Arthur Finkelstein’s tale, which puts that much more meaning into the decisions you make. Games like these also tend to have high replay value, which means some of the more completionist gamers among us could find ourselves solving Jenny’s mystery multiple times to uncover new dialogue and story paths.
Comparisons to other great titles and classic point-and-click mystery gameplay aren’t the only thing that give this game a draw. The demo seems to be a good sample, but it’s the promise of what the rest of the game holds that has garnered enough fans to successfully fund the game on kickstarter. Jenny LeClue was able to hit several stretch goals as well, resulting in an art upgrade, translation into multiple languages, and a fully voiced cast. Though the kickstarter didn’t raise enough to guarantee future episodes, the developers are still planning to continue Jenny’s story. Before it was planned as a game, Jenny LeClue was envisioned as a mini TV series, so it makes sense that her story would be naturally episodic.
On top of what the developers have planned, Jenny LeClue has a nostalgic feel to it that contributes to its appeal. The game’s kickstarter describes its style as “vintage mid-century aesthetics,” which is clear in the details of the teaser. To me, the environment of the game brings to mind a mix of Rear Window and Clue, and if that isn’t the perfect combination for a detective romp toeing the line between serious and funny, then I don’t know what is. Even if the objects Jenny encounters didn’t feel like they belonged in a noir movie, the colors the game uses would tell the story well enough. Jenny LeClue’s Teaser and revealed screenshots illustrate a good balance between the overwhelming beige of detective offices and the colorful decor and pop-art movement that sit in museums like the Cooper Hewitt and MoMA.
This environment is then filled out with a large cast of characters, from Jenny’s parents to her best friend’s dog. Mografi hasn’t revealed the entire cast of the game yet, and in the teaser you only directly interact with Jenny and Arthur Finkelstein, but they all have unique character designs that have been previewed by the developers. These characters all seamlessly fit in with what we’ve seen so far of Arthurton, and perhaps the best fit of all is Jenny herself. The game’s style pairs perfectly with Jenny’s own voice, which is already clearly fleshed out in the bits of dialogue we’ve seen so far. She’s smart, focused, and the perfect choice for the lead in a detective game. Mografi seems dedicated to keeping female representation in mind with this game. Jenny serves a strong female protagonist with a clear voice in a world of mixed morals. She scans her environment with just as much care as a serious detective would, but there’s still room for humor while she’s tracking down clues.
It’s clear that the developers have put a lot of hard work in preparing the teaser and working on the game to come. Mografi also has a very active account for the game on twitter, where they frequently share screenshots from development. These regular updates from developers are a good sign, and with luck the game will stay on track for a 2017 release date. In the meantime, we’re keep an eye out for updates as they come.
Jenny LeClue -Detectivu is set for release on PC, Mac, Linux, and iOS in 2017. For more information about Jenny LeClue – Detectivu, to pre-order the game (for $15 or more for extra features,) or download the playable teaser, visit the game’s official website.
Want to see the teaser in action? Check out Gamer’s Almanac MVP supporter and Let’s Player Cyooty Gaming for a playthrough of the teaser. She’s been a total rockstar inspiring us and helping to get Gamer’s Almanac get off the ground, so go check out her stuff!