Critical Play: Jenny LeClue — Nadin


Jenny LeClue – Detectivu is a mystery and adventure game developed by Mografi. The game is available for several different platforms such as Windows, MacOS, and iOS, but I played on handheld mode on my Nintendo Switch. The game stars Jenny LeClue, a young aspiring detective living in the small, picturesque town of Arthurton — at the beginning of the game, her mother is accused of murder, leading Jenny to investigate the mystery. The advertised target audience of the game is ages 10 and older.

Formal Elements + Types of Fun

Jenny LeClue is a game where the single player plays against the game, and the goal of the game is to complete the entire quest / solve the entire mystery of why Jenny’s mom is being accused of murder (although the storyline does eventually get much more complex than just murder). Gameplay consists of several different mechanics:

  • Exploring Arthurton: Most of gameplay proceeds with Jenny traversing Arthurton and exploring different areas in order to discover clues, talk to people, and solve the mystery.

  • Dialogue & player decisions: Throughout the game, you get the opportunity to make choices about dialogue / other moral dilemmas that Jenny faces. These choices contribute to shaping Jenny’s personality, which can be viewed from the journal (for example, the personality in this screenshot is CEO).

  • Cases & deductions: In addition to finding clues, the player also needs to interpret the clues and make deductions. This takes the form of cases consisting of different questions — the player then has to combine evidence to make deductions in order to answer the question (for example, in the example above, we know the victim didn’t slip because the victim’s boots are muddy, but the floor is squeaky clean).

  • Puzzles: Scattered throughout the game are also puzzles that the player needs to solve in order to proceed through the story. These often involve lock-and-key type puzzles that require Jenny to crack a safe, unlock a door, etc.
The primary types of fun evoked by Jenny LeClue are Discovery and Challenge: by walking around Arthurton and gradually unlocking more of the story, the player gets to explore uncharted territory and make discoveries alongside Jenny. The cases and environmental puzzles woven into the game introduce an element of challenge and an escape room-like feel. The 4 mechanics outlined above support the mystery by evoking a sense of curiosity in the player and making them feel like a true detective. In addition, the characters in the game are very comeppling, and especially as the story goes on and we learn more about the characters, the player becomes more invested in them, motivating them to solve the mystery and find out what happens to the characters. Finally, the feedback from the game is very strong, especially in the core loop of searching for clues — there is lots of visual feedback (e.g. a green diamond when hovering over something that can be investigated), which helps the player feel accomplished and encourages them to continue searching.

My Impressions

What Works

  • Phenomenal voice acting: One of the biggest things that I like about Jenny LeClue is that it is fully voice-acted, which makes the narrative much more engaging and helps the player become more invested with the characters (since what they say is not just text on a screen, but rather actual voices with real emotions).
  • The tutorial is great: The game starts by immediately throwing the player into the action and allowing them to walk around and solve a puzzle. There is no real tutorial, but rather just-in-time hints at the bottom of the screen that show the player how to use the controls. This helps support the sense of Discovery and Challenge evoked by the game, since there’s no real “hand-holding”.

What Could Be Improved

  • Some puzzles are quite difficult: For some puzzles later on in the game, I had to look up hints online in order to fully complete them. I think it would be nice to have some type of in-game hint mechanic to allow players to get help without having to turn to the internet.

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