“Detectiving and choosiness” is what indie mystery narrative game Jenny LeClue: Detectivu is about. Its development began after it was fully funded on Kickstarter by over $105,000 in August of 2015, and while it is available for demo at GDC 2019 and boasts a free playable teaser online, it is still slated for release at some point in 2019.
Jenny LeClue was handcrafted by Joe Russ and Ben Tillet; two experienced motion graphics artists who have worked for the likes of Google and Disney, but are now developing this game together under the name Mografi. Jenny LeClue is a uniquely designed point-and-click style of mystery game with a focus on beautiful, moving art assets and a massively interactive environment.
In this game , players take on the role of the titular kid detective as she must solve a murder mystery that her mother has been accused of. Mografi describes the story as a coming of age tale, “Sometimes funny, sometimes scary, always mysterious; it’s a story about finding our strengths, accepting our weaknesses, and the blurred lines between what is right and wrong.”
This story structure is used to elegantly complement the style and genre of the game, where things seem simple and light on the surface, but actually become more complex as the character learns and grows. Even the game’s aesthetics match this theme: on closer inspection, a huge variety of objects are either interactive, intricately animated, or otherwise detailed enough to warrant a magnifying glass.
Game designers can also look at Jenny LeClue for some clever ideas about how to deliver stories in games. Throughout their journey, for example, players will hear the ongoing narration of Arthur K. Finkelstein, a fictional author who narrates the gameplay of Jenny LeClue . That narration allows players to receive details that are normally missed or neglected, including characters’ thoughts or emotions. It also serves as a simple and stylish way to deliver tutorial content. This is important because throughout the game, Jenny LeClue is faced with both clear-cut story choices as well as other much less obvious opportunities for “detectiving” during dialogue or other events. She can, for example, choose to look away (moving the game’s camera) during dialogue to gather a hidden clue, or otherwise closely inspect her environment at any time to discover additional, hard to find secrets.
Another clever idea about Jenny LeClue’s story is that it has been proposed as a trilogy where each player will make huge decisions on their own, but every player’s choices will be aggregated by Mografi to determine what happens in the next chapter of the trilogy. This gives players a very rare sense of agency and influence in games, but most importantly, it also gives them an impression that what they do truly matters, since every player’s actions will determine the story for everyone else.
Currently, Jenny LeClue is greenlit on Steam and scheduled for a 2019 release on PC, the Nintendo Switch, and the Playstation 4.