I may have never been to summer camp, but I’ve visited vicariously through the movies. There is always a gruff counselor, a crazy lunch lady, and a monster lurking in the woods. In a nutshell, that describes the setting for Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery. And as clichéd as that may sound, it makes for a surprisingly high quality puzzle adventure.
As Jacob Jones, you arrive at Camp Eagle Feather and gingerly interact with your counselors and camp mates, solving their problems via puzzling challenges. Late one night, a chance encounter with Bigfoot is where the story and puzzles take hold. You would think crossing paths with Bigfoot would be a traumatic occurrence, but not so in this case. Jacob actually befriends Bigfoot, which sets up the story of helping Bigfoot solve the mystery of a keepsake from his mother.
The story does a nice job keeping you engaged and curious about what will happen next, and is further enhanced by full voice-overs, witty dialogue, and eye-pleasing visuals. But it wouldn’t be a great game without great puzzles. As you are presented with a variety of challenges– from mathematical puzzles to logic puzzles– you can choose to face the task alone, or if truly befuddled you can phone a friend. Hints can be obtained by redeeming soda cans that are littered throughout the world (recycling pays off at Camp Eagle Feather!) but hints make the puzzle solving rather easy.
Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery is an excellent game, but not without flaws. The game has great visuals and the feel of an open world, but your interactions are very linear. I’m also not crazy about the “point and click” control system. To travel within the game you simply touch on a desired location, but your touches can be misread as trying to pick up soda cans (hints), which means you may have to do some minor backtracking to the previous area. Not a gamebreaking flaw, but a slight control nuisance nonetheless.
Twenty-four puzzles and three hours of gameplay for $2.99 doesn’t sound too enticing on the surface, but when the quality of the puzzles, eye pleasing graphics, and creative storytelling are factored in, Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery quickly becomes a Must Have.
The only other caveat is that this is the first of four expected episodes– at $2.99 apiece, expect to pay $12 for the entire experience. After playing episode one, and having the story left on a cliffhanger, Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery has left me craving more, and absolutely willing to pay full price for such an excellent iOS experience.