Jacob Jones & The Bigfoot Mystery: A Bump In The Night is the first of a five part episodic puzzle-adventure game from British development studio Lucid Games.
The series, as you would expect, follows our titular character, schoolboy Jacob Jones, as he unearths the mysterious legend of the Sasquatch, or Bigfoot – and all that entails.
We’re first introduced to Jacob as the somewhat socially-awkward youngster arrives alongside the wooded cabins of Eagle Feather Summer Camp – a wonderfully crafted and stylised environment which plays home to a myriad of kooky characters, including, amongst others, an eastern European groundskeeper with plans for his mail-order tiger, and a stonking great Phys Ed teacher with an undeniable superiority complex.
All perfectly normal, and commonplace in a multitude of videogames, I’m sure you’d agree.
Gameplay is a simple affair with movement controlled by a mixture of touchscreen gestures, such as swipes to walk around each scene, or taps to interact with points-of-interest. There’s also tilt controls, which utilise your device’s gyroscope sensors to adjust the player’s viewpoint and reveal previously unseen secrets.
Each chapter of Jacob’s journey has its own interesting narrative and charming characters – all sitting satisfyingly amongst the engaging humour, dry-wit and intrigue of BAFTA nominated writer George Pole’s overarching storyline.
Oh, and, there’s the puzzles.
I jest, of course, for Jacob Jones & The Bigfoot Mystery is a puzzle game at heart – and an excellent one at that – but I feel it’s real importance, and value, lies in the inclusion of said story.
Episode One features both logical and mathematical problems aplenty – a handful over 20 of varying ilks and difficulties in total – which will have you glancing quizzically at everything from a fairly unambiguous spot-the-difference, to the dilemmas involved with serving the perfect pizza for friends, or interpreting the song of a trapped bigfoot; You know, as you do.
Moving through the game, you’ll be presented with these puzzles, which, whilst generally lighthearted in nature seem consistently well-conceived, intuitive, and rarely out-of-place with regards to the wider plot points to which they’re linked.
There’s a challenge to be had if you want to attain a perfect score on each puzzle – and in doing so you’ll often earn a trophy or achievement of some kind – but there’s nothing here which is going to stump a seasoned puzzler.
Newcomers alike need not fret either, as helpful hints for each mini-game are available – at a cost of virtual credits – should you need them, and the camp is literally littered with opportunities to earn these.
An unexpected idea though perhaps, is that for the most part, the puzzles are, at any given time, optional; You’ll have to complete a majority of them at some point, but you won’t be held back with regards to game progression if you pass as certain challenges appear, choosing instead to come back later with a fresh thinking cap on.
This mechanic makes the Jacob Jones series of games great for short pick-up-and-play sessions whereby you’re still able to enjoy a story without being held to ransom and getting increasingly frustrated if a particular puzzle doesn’t work for you right away.
The only caveat to completion of A Bump In The Night was that 18 of the 23 available puzzles had been finished at some point, although when and in which order, is again, entirely up to the player.
A Bump In The Night is a delight to experience; For a game of its genre, and indeed it’s price, the production values are second-to-none.
The standard of sound & character design – sitting atop the vivid landscape which aesthetically wouldn’t be out of place in any well loved children’s tales – coupled with the well-written story and rewarding puzzles made my entire playthrough, whilst over a little too soon at around 2.5 hours, an extremely enjoyable one.
The first instalment of this Bigfoot Mystery has certainly whet my appetite for more of the same, and with many of Camp Eagle Feather’s stones left unturned, I’m hoping part two delivers exactly that when it arrives on the PSN and iTunes in the coming months.
Part one of the Jacob Jones And The Bigfoot Mystery saga, A Bump In The Night, is available right now for the PlayStation Vita (£1.59) and iOS (£1.99), with a possible Android port forthcoming.
If you don’t go and pick it up, I’m sending the big guy round.