Game Review: Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery – Episode 1 (PS Vita)

Game Review

Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery is the first episode of a puzzle based adventure game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. The game will be expanded periodically with episodic downloads that expands upon Jacob Jones’ adventure in the same approach as Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead and Back to the Future franchises and Relentless Software’s Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle.

The story revolves around the lead character Jacob Jones being taken to Camp Eagle Feather by his parents Jonathan and Julia Jones were he initially does not want to go, although he quickly finds himself spending his time attempting to find the answers to strange goings on, such as the real reason as to why the camp counsellors are fattening up all of the children and trying to shed light on the campfire stories that tell of strange creatures in the woods.

There are no difficulty levels, but the puzzle solving is what provides the difficulty. The puzzles of Jacob Jones have a great range of variety as they vary from the easier puzzles of finding a GPS in your parents’ car and plotting the course or finding someone to talk to at Camp Eagle Feather and re-arranging luggage to fit into a particular amount of space to the harder puzzles that come much later on into the game with the story throughout the game requiring some level of puzzle solving in order to progress. The puzzles also range in their content and categories with everything from logic to observation and mathematical to lateral thinking.

The merit points system works by awarding you merit points for every puzzle that you successfully complete. The level of success for each puzzle is based upon the amount of moves it takes you to complete the puzzle, so if the highest amount of moves you were allowed to make was twelve and you took fifteen moves, then you would not receive the maximum amount of merit points, but if you took twelve or less moves, then you would receive the maximum amount of merit points.

There are usually varying amounts of soda cans on each screen you find yourself exploring with the collected soda cans being traded off as in-game currency for phone credits, which in turn you get to cash in, so you can be provided with hints and tips for the puzzles whenever you may get stuck on that seemingly impossible puzzle; only to later scratch your head in regards to how you could not previously see the wood for the trees. One phone credit allows you to view the hint book with a couple of hints on the puzzle that you have selected help for, while two phone credits allows you to call Uncle Ed to ask for help who usually provides the more helpful hints and tips on how to approach and progress through the puzzle and if you are still ultimately stuck on any given puzzle, then you can call Big Bro for three phone credits and pretty much have the solution to the puzzle spelt out for you. It is important to note that you start the game off with twenty phone credits, so even if you cannot find any of the soda cans, then it would not really matter that much; unless you were completely clueless for every puzzle.

The social media integration allows you to post about the completion of one of the game’s many puzzles on your Facebook wall or to tweet about it on your Twitter profile. You can enable and disable Facebook from the options menu, so make sure you enable it if you want to post anything to your Facebook wall and Twitter is enabled by your PlayStation Network settings from the Vita itself.

There is a Story So Far option available from the options menu that allows you to view your current objectives at the top of the listing and your previous objectives that are beneath your current objectives and are crossed out and in green lettering. This is a helpful feature as it means that you can recap the story without forgetting what has happened if you happen to take a break from the game.

There are some great comedy lines and classic pop culture references, such as early on in the game when Jacob’s father Jonathan says, “Ah, the open road, the trees, the mountains! Kind of reminds me of the beginning of The Shining” as Jacob’s mother Julia replies, “Heeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!” Jacob doesn’t really understand his parents’ discussion as he is very young and asks them, “Is this another of those in-jokes I’ll get when I’m older? Because if it is, I really hope it’s worth the wait.” Those kinds of lines make it clear from the outset that the developers have worked hard on implementing a humorous element into a good script and narrative for the game.

The controls are pretty easy to grasp as they only involve tapping the play icon on the touch screen to proceed onto the next section of dialogue; tapping an object to interact with it or find out what it is; and tapping the pause icon to pause the game and view the options menu, while swiping your finger along the touch screen to the left or to the right will move objects during puzzles or moving onto the previous screen or the next screen during your exploration of Camp Eagle Feather.

The graphics are actually powered by Unreal Engine 3, which is surprising as the cartoon style graphics are almost akin to those of the PS3’s Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle in their art style, although they do look visually better as the vibrant colours pop out of the Vita’s five inch touch screen, while the characters and your surrounding environments look more detailed.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface across various menus such as the main menu, options menu and in-game navigation, although it lacks any ability for navigation via the left and right analogue sticks, directional pad and face buttons. The background of the menu screens is interactive in the sense that you can tilt the Vita’s gyroscope to change the direction that Jacob looks and shines his torch.

The audio is pretty good with the majority of it consisting of voice-overs for each of the characters with light background music. The voice-overs for each of the characters are what really make the audio stand out as it is an important part of bringing the story and the adventure to life.

The trophy list includes twenty trophies with nineteen bronze trophies, one silver trophy and no gold trophies. You may not necessarily find the trophies easy due to how difficult you may find the puzzle solving elements, but the majority of the trophies are naturally earned through playing the game once, although you may have to play certain areas through again if you fail to collect particular items or you do not perfect a puzzle to earn the maximum amount of merits. The first couple of trophies will be earned within a matter of minutes providing that you have a grasp of the puzzles involved, such as the First Step bronze trophy for completing your first puzzle and the Unjammed bronze trophy for completing the Log Jam puzzle in less than twelve moves. The trophies are mostly aimed at completing puzzles within a certain number of moves from the second trophy onwards and include: earning the Circuit Trained bronze trophy for completing the Circuit Training puzzle in less than nine moves; the Digested bronze trophy for completing the That Ain’t Sitting Right puzzle in less than thirteen moves; the Quick Packer bronze trophy for completing the Pack Mentality puzzle in less than nine moves; the Low Roller bronze trophy for completing the Rolling Blunder puzzle in less than twenty-seven moves; and the Low Notes bronze trophy for completing the A Note of Friendship puzzle in less than six moves, alongside the Intermediate Puzzle bronze trophy for completing ten puzzles and the Professor Puzzle bronze trophy for completing twenty puzzles. The hardest trophies are the Garbage Collector bronze trophy for collecting all of the soda cans and the Gnats Nobbled bronze trophy for collecting all of the Gnatnobblers. I would estimate depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips on the harder puzzles and the locations of where to collect all of the soda cans and Gnatnobblers that it would take between two to three hours to 100% the trophy list or longer than four hours without a trophy guide.

There is unfortunately no online multiplayer and rather surprisingly; there are also no online leaderboards. I was not exactly expecting online multiplayer as it is not the kind of game that would lend itself to online multiplayer, but I thought that there would have been online leaderboards based upon the merit points awarded for completing each of the puzzles within the appropriate amount of moves. However, despite there being no online leaderboards it is not really a huge loss to the gameplay; as the gameplay really stems from the puzzles and adventure aspects of the game.

The replayability all depends upon how into puzzle solving you are in regards to playing the game beyond the initial playthrough, although it does have charm, humour and a genuine sense of adventure. There are lots of collectables including soda cans and Gnatnobblers, which are scattered throughout each of the areas that will most probably bring you back for more until you have found and collected them all.

Overall, Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery has the quality, puzzle solving, adventure, charm and humour of a great game. If you are a fan of puzzle games and adventure games, then the first episode of Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery is easy to recommend, especially considering the cheap price of just £1.59! I personally enjoyed my time with the first episode and I am waiting to see how the adventure progresses further in the second episode.

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery
  • Publisher: Lucid Games
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 720Mb

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