Every now and again, a game comes along that catches me completely off guard. Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery for the PlayStation Vita does exactly that, in all of the best ways possible.
When the first chapter of the episodic adventure/puzzle game, Jacob Jones, first popped up on the PlayStation Network a couple of weeks ago, I figured what could be the harm in giving the game a shot? What I knew about the game based on early teasers was that it was made by Lucid Games, ran on the Unreal Engine and sported an adorable art style that mixes papercraft and vinyl toys. The fact that the first chapter was only three bucks also helped make my purchasing decision. When I booted the game up, however, I quickly learned that it was also fully voiced, offered a cast of delightful characters, interesting puzzles and more than enough charm to spare.
Coming in at around 3-4 hours (depending on how long it takes you to discover and solve the game's 20-plus puzzles), the first chapter of the game features the titular character's introduction to Camp Eagle Feather, it's counselors and campers, as well as a certain mythological creatures with oversized feet.
Along the way, Jacob will make new friends, a new enemy or two, and help everyone and their mother figure out problems great and small with some good old fashioned puzzle solving. The vast majority of the game's puzzles are clever, tie into the story nicely and force the player to utilize some real logic. Think Professor Layton goes to summer camp and you've got the basic idea. There's a hint system built into the game to help get you through some of the trickier puzzles, and even three skips available if you simply can't suss a particular problem out.
Available hints are powered by cans you collect while adventuring in and around camp. Jacob has been asked to keep the camp nice and clean and, while observing a scene or exploring, you can tap on hidden (some diabolically so) cans to chuck them in recycling and add an additional hint to your pool.
Along with the puzzles, Jacob will need to visit various areas of the camp and chat up the locals. The conversations are pretty entertaining with some genuinely funny moments spread throughout. Even better is the fact that most of the voice acting is good, meaning you'll actually want to hear what everyone has to say.
Only the first chapter in the series (No word yet on how many chapters there will be total), Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery had little trouble winning me over. Sure, some of the hints are vague to the point of being unhelpful and a couple of the puzzles rely less on logic and more on “move this crap around until I stumble into the answer,” but the majority of what's on offer is of a quality that makes these minor blemishes easy to overlook.
I'm genuinely interested to know what happens next in the story and eager to dive into the next batch of puzzles as soon as they become available. That's not something I expected to get out of Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Adventure, but I'm certainly happy that's what the game delivered. If you have a Vita and a few extra bucks lying around, you owe it to yourself to at least give this first chapter a shot.
Platforms: PS Vita
Developer: Lucid Games