Platform: Wii U (also on PS3/PS4, Xbox 360/Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS)
Developer: Vicious Cycle
Publisher: Little Orbit
MSRP: $39.99 (PS4/Xbox One, $49.99, 3DS $29.99)
ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10 & up)
Score: B (80%)
As someone who likes all the console and handheld Adventure Time games, it’s good to see a new one arriving so soon that’s even more of a throwback than the more action oriented titles that have come before. Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations is a fine homage to old school classic point and click adventures with some nifty combat portions to keep your fingers limber. While the game isn’t all that difficult to complete (particularly if you use the hint highlight system to find clickable objects and locations), it’s a great diversion for a rainy weekend as well fun enough to warrant additional installments. It’s also the first Adventure Time game with rendered 3D characters and environments with developer Vicious Cycle doing a mostly excellent job in making Finn and company look great in polygonal form.
The game is set up as a series of “graybles” as (re)told by the alien Cuber (voiced by Emo Phillips) from his space station. While it’s not quite Game of the Year material, the story is pure Adventure Time: pretty darn amusing and as usual, chock full of goofiness and tossed off references fans will knowingly nod and grin at. Fans of the show new to this style of game will find that it’s easy to get into and play, but experts at pointy and clicky stuff new to the show may find the game lacks a certain level of challenge save fora few puzzles that require knowing how certain episodes play out. Then again, unless you’re really bad at following prompts and using a tiny bit of deductive reasoning, you can do a bit of trial and error with not a failure state in sight.
There are five “cases” to tackle in the Land of Ooo that have Finn and Jake meeting up with the usual suspects from the show and everyone is voiced perfectly as you’d expect. In terms of gameplay, most of the game relies on a simple menu system that allows you to choose Finn to do most of the investigative work while Jake assists in getting him in and out of trouble or to seemingly inaccessible spots in the environment. Talking to everyone if you’re stuck will get you some clues that range from mostly direct to somewhat obscure (yes, like the show), but you can solve bits of some cases before you’d think if you have just enough info and accidentally or intentionally talk to someone who starts giving you a short quiz about evidence you’ve gathered.
At certain points during play, “Combat Time” sequences become available, adding a bit of button jamming action to things. These sections are short and easy to beat, offering simple rewards in the form of collectibles Finn and Jake can use to decorate their fancy over-sized tree house. The game probably would have been fine without the swordplay and special attacks, but someone generally gets some sort of beat down at some point on the show, so you get to dish out the digital pain on a few folks who probably deserve it. Then again, without these smack laying down parts, the game might be less amusing and fun to play to some fans who expect a knockout or three (or more) before all is said and done.
While the game isn’t all that lengthy (as noted, it’s a rainy weekend special), it’s well done enough to warrant a sequel or two in the same style or at least more Adventure Time games down the road. Actually, it would also be really interesting to see if Vicious Cycle can handle the crazy and contagious energy of a more recent Cartoon Network smash hit, Steven Universe. It’s a completely different look and vibe on that show, but so far, every tie-in from the comic to the sole mobile game Attack the Light has been very well received. As usual, we shall see. In the meantime, you may as well support Little Orbit and Cartoon Network by taking Finn & Jake on a few Investigations, I say.