Jenny LeClue: Detectivu is one of those rare obscure gems that prove that taking a chance on games you’ve never heard of before can indeed pay off. This puzzle and adventure game is great for anyone who’s a fan of mysteries, and it follows the story of child detective Jenny LeClue, who finds herself in the midst of her first murder mystery after a string of disappointing ones. The story is frequently narrated by the author of the Jenny LeClue series, Arthur Finklestein, who is faced with making drastic changes to his beloved series’ formula for the sake of appeasing his publisher, who feels his stories have become too boring.
The game takes place in the quiet town of Arthurton, where nothing exciting ever really happens. But this time, Jenny begins to uncover Arthurton’s darkest secrets and finds herself involved in a mystery that has great consequences for herself and her family. Along the way, she encounters likable characters, engages in light exploration, and solves various puzzles. While some of the puzzles repeat, I didn’t usually mind because solving them after the first time was usually pretty easy once you knew what you were doing.
I also largely enjoyed the game’s pleasant art style (aside from Jenny’s disturbingly small feet, which made her legs appear to end in points…like a spider). This updated version of the game also features some great voice acting, and there is a good sense of humor here, as well. I’ve played plenty of games that think they’re funny. This one actually is. The writing is also quite good in this game (which is fortunate for what is basically an interactive novel), and Jenny herself is a great protagonist. So many games have boring main characters, but Jenny has enough personality to keep her interesting. In fact, she can even be a bit of a jerk, but not so much to make her unlikable. It’s just nice to have a playable character who has flaws like a real person.
Even though Jenny LeClue is clearly meant to be a more casual experience, the game was still quite engaging as I played along with Jenny and tried to figure out the mysteries myself. Some of my guesses turned out to be correct, and other times, well… You see, the most disappointing part of the game was the ending and a strong feeling that my choices didn’t matter in the end. For one thing, the ending is very fast-paced and abrupt. This could be forgiven due to the fact that many murder mysteries I’ve seen on TV end with a big exposition dump, as well. But this isn’t a TV show, so I feel like the pacing in an actual interactive medium should have been better.
There is also a cliffhanger and a “To be continued…” message at the end, which is another thing that I might have forgiven if this was a TV series. I’ve played games that hint at what’s to come, but it still usually feels as if that particular game’s story has been resolved. In Jenny LeClue, you spend a lot of time uncovering mysteries that remain enigmas even after the final credits have scrolled by. I got the game on sale and only paid a few dollars for it, so if I had to buy a sequel to see the rest of it, it wouldn’t really be a big deal. But if someone paid full price, they might be a lot more reluctant to spend even more money when the first game should have tied up all the loose ends.
Lastly, did my choices matter in the end? Because it doesn’t seem like they did. There were only two choices that might have had substantial impact, and the latter likely won’t have any payoff until the sequel, if there ever is one. I was really excited to play a game where the ending would change depending on my decisions, but aside from a few changes in dialogue, nothing else I did seemed to really matter.
I still really enjoyed my time with Jenny LeClue, which usually costs $25 and takes roughly 10 hours to complete. I like mysteries, and it was really nice playing something quite different from what I’m used to. I’m not sure I’ve ever played an interactive mystery before, and this one was a pretty good one, despite the lackluster ending. (Maybe the ending was disappointing because the unsolved mysteries were so darn intriguing!) This game really is one of the better obscure indie games out there, and I’d recommend it as long as you’re okay with the full mystery being resolved in a potential sequel. I still felt my time was mostly worthwhile, but you might want to wait for a sale like I did (this game seems to go on sale fairly often) so that paying for a Part Two in the future feels like less of an ask.