Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery is a brand new original title from the indie studio Lucid Games. Going along the similar path of the Professor Layton games, “Jacob & Biggie” (as the game has been so lovingly dubbed) takes a story driven approach to the puzzle genre. ‘A bump in the night,’ Episode 1 in this 5-part episodic series, introduces us to the main character Jacob Jones and takes us on an adventure with the blue-hooded kid. At a bargain release price of $2.99, is Jacob Jones worth the purchase?
Jacob Jones is a little kid who finds himself at a summer camp, Eagle Feather (or “Evil Feather” as Jacob refers to it). Seemingly an only child, Jacob’s parents took him to the camp so he could be around kids his age. Jacob soon finds himself surrounded by a host of interesting and weird characters, from the other youths at the camp to the camp counselors, and one mythical creature who turns out to be Jacobs true camping friend, Biggie the Bigfoot. Biggie asks Jacob for help finding a gift from his mother and so the two go on a bit of a quest to crack a mystery and they’ll need to solve puzzles along the way. This in turn opens the door to other mysteries surrounding the camp and the nearby areas. As Lucid’s synopsis reads, “something strange is going on at Camp Eagle Feather. Campfire stories tell of strange creatures in the woods, and why are the camp counsellors fattening up all of the kids? Only Jacob Jones and his mythical companion can solve the mystery.”
Episode 1′s story takes a little bit of time getting off of the ground, but it gets there. Filled with charm and humor, the game is fully animated, fully voiced and has subtitles to follow along with. While so far, the game hasn’t shown anything spectacular, it has the feel-good charm of a nice book that makes you want to curl up under a blanket and keep playing. My only issue is the timing and speed of the game. Timing is key in narration, and that goes for games as well. Jacob Jones doesn’t quite seem to get the timing part down as there are quite a few awkward pauses between dialogues and scene transitions. The main cause for this is due to the fact that you have to tap the screen after each character says his or her line. Even the few occasions when the game automatically continues dialogue, there are still moments of silence which kind of ruin the experience for a little less engaging story. Still, the game has wide appeal to both a younger audience and adults, the latter which will probably find more humor in the bits of pop culture and historical references throughout. Although the game is rated E10+ and is overall an appropriate game for kids, there is one bit of mild language usage which would probably give the game an otherwise “G-rated” experience, a comparative “PG” rating.
Gameplay-wise, Jacob Jones is all about the touch-screen. A bit of a point and click adventure, the game uses the touch-screen for just about everything from story progression, navigation and exploration, collecting items, interacting with other characters, and solving puzzles. Tapping on the screen is the main control, but swiping also allows one to look around each area and you’re able to tap your way to different locations and maps. A few motion controls are also enabled allowing you to shift your Vita (or i-device) to solve some puzzles, plus look around areas a little better and find hidden collectibles. Each puzzle also has specific touch controls that you may need to adapt to, but these are easily demonstrated and explained on the screen.
From almost the start of the game, you’ll start puzzling away. The puzzles range anywhere from easy enough for a child to solve to difficult (or nonsensical?) to the point of needing to use all of your hint points or a few free passes on one or two puzzles. The puzzles overall seem well thought out and clever, but a few seemed a little less logical to me. Maybe my brain is just trained in a different way. Who knows? After each puzzle, there is a bit of a summary which kind of give a general overview of how the puzzles are solved – without giving the answer. Some puzzles have more than one way to solve them, so you can always hit the pause menu and go back to try to solve the game again in another way or get a better time/score. Scattered around the various areas are collectible cans that act as a kind of currency. With these, you can unlock up to three hints on each puzzle that you might need help with. While checking out some hints, they didn’t seem very helpful and chances are you will be able to figure out at least those parts on your own.
As for the graphics, Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery takes an interesting approach to the design of the game. A kind of toon-papercraft hybrid, the game sports a mixture of beautifully crafted 3D characters and environments that look like they’re straight from a pop-up book. I love it. The animations are clean and smooth and the game looks wonderful. The fully voiced characters were also done quite well. I only wish Jacob was a little more enthusiastic at parts. Otherwise, each unique character is brought to life through their voice and animation.
Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery is a fun-filled, quirky, and charming puzzler. The story is simple yet enjoyable for both kids and adults. The graphics are beautiful and crisp. The puzzles are well done, save for a couple. My only complaints about the game come from the pacing, a few puzzles were awkward, and the game ended too soon. Still, considering the bite-sized price, we got a filling first episode and I’m looking forward to more. If you’re someone looking for a feel-good, charming puzzle game, then pick up your Apple device or PlayStation Vita and download Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery. When it’s all said and done, at the end of the day, Jacob will have you Jonesing for more.