Indie Impressions: Jenny LeClue (Playable Teaser)
It feels like far too long since I’ve been as excited for a game to release as Jenny LeClue, so you can imagine my excitement when a playable teaser for it was recently released and I finally got a chance to play it myself. If you missed the Kickstarter or are otherwise unaware of what exactly Jenny LeClue is, it follows a titular young detective as she explores a colorful world, hunts for clues to prove her mother’s innocence, and humorously corrects the narrator when he gets things just a little off (the idea is you are playing through a choose your own adventure novel). In short it effectively combines Nancy Drew with Professor Layton, while looking absolutely incredible and feeling entirely its own creation. The art style is certainly what drew me in first, with the mildly abstract sense of scale and rich color pallet meshing together with a papercraft layout that incorporates a surprisingly elaborate camera to perfectly frame each scene. It feels meticulous and carefully considered the way you’d expect from a high production cartoon but often gets neglected in games, providing each scene a sense of purpose even when there’s very little going on.
The teaser starts up thirteen chapters into the main game, providing a brief glimpse of how the game plays though keeping most story specifics vague. As such it’s hard to get a feel for how Jenny LeClue’s narrative will play out or the scope of it, but even with how little could be understood from jumping in this far with no prior exposition, it didn’t take long for me to become entranced with what is hinted at throughout the teaser and then briefly elaborated before quickly wrapping up in a devious cliffhanger.
It seems, so far, to be very much the sort of storyline and writing you’d expect, but then twisted just enough to keep you guessing. Most of the teaser involves searching through books for clues, which gives a bit of insight into what appear to be dangerous experiments being run by whoever it is you’re investigating. It feels like classic noir with a Scooby Doo-esq tone, and provided there are answers for this mystery at the end of the tunnel I’m entirely ready to sign up for the ride.
Similarly interacting with the game is in line with similar games, keeping things simple and clear, but still providing a feeling of cooperative sleuthing as you and Jenny put clues together and solve riddles. There’s not much to it, but it works excellently in creating an experience just about anyone could play and enjoy without being dull. I especially liked a puzzle at the end which required I search over a bookcase and decipher titles in order to figure out which needed to be pulled to open a secret passageway.
If there is any disappointment to be found here, it’s that the teaser is but a short slice of the full game, and we still have a bit of time left to wait for that to release. That aside, it’s fantastic to have finally gotten a glimpse at something I’ve been so highly anticipating, and even better that so far it’s living up to everything I had hoped it would be. I’m often cautious about getting too hyped up for new releases in case I come away that much more disappointed if they fall short, but I’m feeling pretty safe with Jenny LeClue and now need to distract myself before I get too enthusiastic and this post turns to gibberish.