XI
you are not logged in
Review

Review: Jacob Jones And The Bigfoot Mystery

Professor Lay-it-on-thick.

It’s the dance of the furrowed eyes, a tense, tightly edited exchange between puzzler and puzzlegiver, and it’s not the only time Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery echoes the ubiquitous Professor Layton. Except here, in this PlayStation Vita (and iOS) game, the back and forth post-submission interactions are funny, unpredictable and a delight to watch.

The tale’s a whimsical one, starting with young Jacob being dumped at Summer Camp by his slightly awkward parents and ending abruptly when you realise, two hours later, that this is just the first episode of who-knows-how-many. There’s a bit of meat on the bones of a story, but we’re only getting the first chapter, and a lot of what happens feels like a slightly floaty set up procedure.

Jacob Jones

British development studio

First in a series

Runs on Unreal Engine

Also available on iOS

The idea’s simple enough, and the mechanics are largely handled smartly. Movement around the camp is a mixture of swipes on the Vita’s touchscreen to turn to points of interest, and specific taps to move Jacob (and his partner, unlocked approximately half way through the game) through to the next pre-set area.

You can backtrack and explore, but it’s more Myst than Morrowind, despite being entirely 3D.

Any inter-character discussion is coloured with decent voice acting (with some nice deliveries) and the camp’s students and staff all animate well enough. One particular scene during the first night in the game is really well done, with some great interaction between Jacob and his new found friends. It’s lighthearted, sure, but it’s engaging and plays out rather nicely.

So whilst the game is fairly linear with its structure, it’s possible to reach the end of the game without having completed (or even discovered) every puzzle during your playthrough. Indeed, there’s only one concession to the usual progress gates, and it’s right at the end, the game needing a minimum of 18 completed puzzles to progress – an easy task.

It’s worth mentioning that the Trophies are well designed to encourage players to go back (the game doesn’t save after the final cut-scene) and pick up some missing collectables or re-do some of the puzzlers faster for virtual silverware, which is a smart design choice. This adds a little challenge where its needed – post-game – and makes a ‘harder’ difficulty setting something entirely optional.

The various puzzles – arguably the game’s single most important aspect, given the genre – all have their own distinct controls, depending on the puzzle style, and in the most part are intuitive and self explanatory. There’s at least two that didn’t really make a great deal of sense, though, crucial when there’re only 20 or so in total, and some of them are a little fiddly.

To developer Lucid Games’ credit though, the puzzles are all coherent to the story. That is, they’re integrated properly and don’t feel like they’re just thrown in for padding. Anyone stuck can call upon three different hint methods too (the Facebook riff is cute) with the credit system for these gentle guides also cleverly weaved into the over-arching storyline.

And whilst the puzzles don’t always look particularly impressive visually, the rest of the game is gorgeous. Powered by Unreal (although you wouldn’t know) this patchwork, cardboard-styled world looks richly textured and paradoxically rather solid, with barely a misstep with the aesthetics.

It’s a joy to see such vivid, strong graphics on the Vita, and for a game of this scope there are few complaints to be had with how the game looks.

I enjoyed Jacob Jones. There’s not a huge amount to the game and some areas of the camp are left mostly untouched (along with the respective staff members) but it’s clear that the second episode at least won’t be abandoning the location too quickly, so hopefully we can find out more about the slightly odd situation that some of the characters have found themselves in.

What’s Good:

  • Great graphics
  • Decent voice acting
  • Some clever puzzles

What’s Bad:

  • Ends too soon, and is mostly too easy for seasoned puzzlers
  • At least one jarring typo in the puzzle text
  • A couple of slightly iffy puzzles

Penned by TV’s own George Poles, this charming sequence of interspersed brainteasers, point-to-go navigation and child-like exposition never really threatens to wow, but still manages to keep you hooked until the end, if only to find out where that admittedly brief storyline is heading. There’s a definite ending, of course, but it’s reached all too soon. More please.

Score: 7/10

Note: the game will be available very soon for $2.99, or thereabouts.

11 Comments
  1. Eldave0
    andUandU
    Since: Aug 2008

    Exactly the sort of game I would buy if I owned a Vita. Shame this isn’t seeing a PS3 release.

    Comment posted on 14/05/2013 at 14:05.
  2. SpikeyMikey23
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    I’m going to pick this up. Recently bought Machinarium and am thoroughly enjoying it. Taylorsmade also supplied me with a PS+ trial so tred Thomas was alone. Loved that too

    It’s safe to say i’ve always shy-ed away from Indie titles but starting to get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

    Thanks for the review. Always looking to get more out of my vita, which is why im also waiting for the Walking dead to make it’s appearance!

    Comment posted on 14/05/2013 at 14:07.
  3. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    FYI Lucid say the game will be £1.99 in proper money.

    Comment posted on 14/05/2013 at 14:33.
    • SpikeyMikey23
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      any dates for release been given?

      Comment posted on 14/05/2013 at 14:35.
      • Kivi95
        Member
        Since: Oct 2009

        Tomorrow!

        Comment posted on 14/05/2013 at 15:09.
      • SpikeyMikey23
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        sweet

        Comment posted on 14/05/2013 at 15:19.
  4. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Don’t have a Vita but it looks so charming I think I’ll go buy it now. Ah, Thursday for us iOS owners. Still… count me in! Love how it’s looking.

    Cheers, Al! :-)

    Comment posted on 14/05/2013 at 16:21.
    • Alex C
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      It’ll work perfectly on iOS, too.

      Comment posted on 14/05/2013 at 18:31.
  5. Kennykazey
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    Right, at such a low price it seems like very good value. I’m sold.

    Comment posted on 14/05/2013 at 19:50.
  6. aerobes
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    Sounds great! Think I’ll surprise my wife with this, maybe she’ll pick her Vita up for the first time in months.

    Comment posted on 14/05/2013 at 23:59.
  7. colmshan1990
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    For that price I don’t think I can go wrong.

    I’ll give it a go.

    Comment posted on 15/05/2013 at 02:48.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Latest Comments