(PSVita and iOS by Lucid Games)
This word instantly comes to mind when I played Jacob Jones & The Bigfoot Mystery. I recently picked this up on PSN for under £2, it looked interesting enough to warrant a download but then I started playing…
What a gem! This game is the most fun I’ve had on my PSVita for the last few months. This may come across as over-exaggeration but sometimes you just need a nice, simple game to refresh your gaming pallet.
Jacob Jones comes from the developers Lucid Games. The UK team, based in Liverpool, consists of almost 40 people who have worked on previous games such as Project Gotham Racing, Blur and James Bond 007: Blood Stone. Once you’ve read this review, do check out their site Lucidgames.co.uk or give them a tweet @LucidGamesLtd
This review is written based on just Episode 1 “A bump in the night” with other episodes being available in the near future.
You play as young Jacob Jones, a boy who has been dropped off at summer camp by his parents to encourage him to socialize with other kids of his age. His parents are naturalist researchers and this has rubbed off on Jacob, making him a smart and inquisitive child who is also confident at problem-solving.
Once he arrives at Camp Eagle Feather he meets a variety of interesting characters, both fellow children, camp counsellors and the occasional singing Bigfoot.
Jacob is controlled solely by the touchscreen on the PSVita (and obviously for iOS devices) and with the addition of accelerometers to alter your view of the environment.
You roam around the camp, talking to the staff and other children with minimal item collecting. We now reach the meat of the game; puzzles. This is a puzzle/conundrum game, not dissimilar to the popular Professor Layton games for Nintendo DS. This is a strong comparison to make as Jacob Jones is dissimilar to Layton games in terms of presentation, story or even style but I say this so you know what to expect from the puzzles. However the music that plays during puzzle sequences will sound familiar if you’ve dabbled in Layton in the past.
Episode 1 contains a total of 24 puzzles, not all require solving to progress the story, in fact a lot of them can be skipped and moved to the pause menu to be played at a later time. The game employs a hint system through the use of “phone credits” which you can use a cellphone to call up Jacob’s relatives for hints if you’re stuck. You acquire these credits by picking up litter that’s scattered around the camp in the form of soda pop cans, there are 130 of them, cleverly hidden in almost every scene you stand in.
Now this exploration/item collecting is where the clever use accelerometers come in. When searching an environment for soda cans you can tilt your device to change the camera angle and peer behind surrounding bushes and shrubs, often revealing the discarded drinks. The change of camera angle can also be used in a few of the puzzles to make things a little easier to work out.
The puzzles themselves are not overly difficult, they’re all fun to play and are relevant to the part of the story you’re up to, I only had trouble with a few but it didn’t slow me down for too long.
Some require you to move objects around the screen whilst others are math problems and word-based conundrums. There’s a nice variety of puzzles that make you feel like such a pro when you solve them.
In between the puzzles there are dialogue scenes with the many NPCs that roam around the camp. They have funny little quirks and personalities which are portrayed really well through the game’s solid voice acting, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the silly humour and deliverance of lines.
I finished all the puzzles in this episode in about 2 hours, plus another 1 hour “speed play-through” to collect all the cans (for a trophy) which is suitable for both the portable and episodic nature of this game. The story is straightforward but my gamer senses are tingling and I suspect something a little more sinister is going on at Camp Eagle Feather than meets the eye, I expect a few twists and turns in upcoming instalments.
All the environments and characters are beautifully crafted, this game looks great on the PSVita’s 5 inch OLED screen and on iPad’s larger Retina (or iPad mini’s smaller) screen. I think it has the potential to look gorgeous on a big HDTV screen if it were ever ported to say the PS3. The one thing that stood out to me was the character’s mouths, the 2D image that is their mouths sync up with the voices really well and I was impressed. A lot of love went into making this game look fantastic, which took me by surprise considering its low price.
It has a few slow loading times in places and sometimes when exploring the environment you often click on something you don’t want, which annoyingly moves Jacob the next area but this is just nitpicking and negligible.
If you think yourself somewhat of a puzzler, you enjoy a good head-scratcher as well as silly humour then I highly recommend Jacob Jones, the game is beautiful to look at, well-made, enjoyable, controls well and is insanely cheap considering the level of quality that the game has.
Bring on episode 2!
I give it a Sasquatching 4/5!
Jacob Jones & The Bigfoot Mystery episode 1 is available on PSN for $2.99/€1.99/£1.59 and iOS currently at the price of the low-tier app (69p, 99c, etc)
As I mentioned earlier, I played on PSVita, which contains PSN trophies so I recommend this version if you own the Sony handheld.