Adventure Time has been charming the pants off adults and children for half a decade now. It’s amazing to think such a silly animated short could evolve into the pop culture icon that it is today. There have been multiple attempts at creating Adventure Time video games in the past, but aside from some addicting mobile additions fans haven’t see much to cheer about.
Enter Finn and Jake Investigations, a title that takes more of a theatrical approach to the magical world of Ooo. Gone is the dungeon crawling and 8-bit graphics, tossed out for some smooth character models and point-and-click shenanigans. It may not be the best game on the market, but it’s surely the most Adventure Timey.
Shmowzow! Mathematical! Algebraic!
If any of those exclamations mean anything to you, then you’re probably a fan of Adventure Time. Or maybe an excitable math professor.
The charm of Adventure Time’s wonderfully silly and weirdly deep universe shines through in Investigations in all the best ways. All the in jokes and call backs to previous Adventure Time content can be found within the game’s main five mysteries. A happy snail can be found waving in every scene, players can find the amber that encased the notorious Lich, and Finn comments that this mystery is “totally bazoobs”. The wacky energy of Ooo is certainly present.
Investigations is a game that was obvious made with fans in mind, and as a fan that’s wonderful. If I was some Joe Schmo off the street (where I’ve heard they congregate) I’m sure I would be very confused as to what was happening and being said. I mean, what the heck is a “Lumpy Space Princess”?
The correct answer is “fresh to death” You should know that.
Never before has such a super star voice cast been assembled. Ok, maybe it’s not that amazing, but it actually does include all of the original actors. Finn, Jake, Marceline, Princess Bubblegum, Ice King - they’re all here and all spewing their classic lines with vigor.
Point-and-click adventures include loads of dialogue, and it’s surprising that every since NPC is given a voice (a recognizable one at that). As the game goes on it starts to feels more like a show and less like a game.
It’s pretty important for a title based around mysteries to have some-well-thought out cases. The mysteries in the land of Ooo are all pretty off kilter, which is in line with Adventure Time’s common themes. Finn and Jake’s first mission is to find out who has been stealing away the citizens of the Candy Kingdom in the night, and more specifically Peppermint Butler.
Them Adventure boys soon find themselves in Wizard City, well known for being for “wizards only, fools!”, and the plot thickens. As you progress through the story you’ll find many items and clues that you’ll need to unlock the next area. Jake is a commonly answer to many of the issues involved, though his magical abilities fall short more than once. The best part is certainly when you get to combine Jake with other items to make silly contraptions.
There are plenty “ah ha!” moments throughout the game that leave you feeling smart, though they can often come after some frustrating situations. I honestly can’t tell if a confusing mystery just makes for a better mystery, but it’s certainly not all bad.
There’s no doubt that Investigations features some of the best looking Adventure Time character models to date, even better than the handful of 3D rendered episodes that exist within the shows history. The thing about shooting an episode in 3D is that you get to pick all the angles to show off characters in a way that represents them best. In a video game any angle is fair game.
There were plenty of times I was blown away by how good the various characters looked in their shiny new 3D world, but some models just don’t work well in three dimensions. Even Finn looks a bit bizarre with the inclusion of his jacked up teeth in every shot. It’s not something that is displayed when he talks in the show, so it seems a bit distracting.
Point-and-click titles are not well-known for their combat, and for good reason. It’s difficult to find a nice balance of slow paced sleuthing and button mashing brawls. Investigations throws Finn and and Jake into combat on many occasions, though it doesn’t do a great job of explaining why. At times you’ll just walk around a corner and all of a sudden you’ll be hacking away at some angry gnomes.
The controls are as simple as mashing your attack button, but that’s not exactly a good thing. Finn will lock on to the nearest opponent and whale away until his special meter is filled. NPC Jake will also rough up some baddies on his own. An ability meter, shown using two hands going for a fist bump, lets Finn and Jake combine in four different ways to dole out extra damage. It’s pretty nifty. Well... the first time.
You’ll find yourself mashing away at another group of adversaries far too often and for far too long. It grows dull after just a few rounds, and aggravating after a few more. After every battle Jake will compliment you on how much treasure you just picked up and ask if you’d like to fight again. But my thought is always, “What treasure?” The game has no indication that you’ve accumulated anything as you fought, and doesn’t even bother to give you a health bar.
The UI within Investigations is unattractive to say the least. It’s not always easy to read and the team at Vicious Cycle couldn’t be bothered to even create different icons for the various forms of evidence you find throughout the game. It makes cycling through your inventory confusing, as you can’t see what type of evidence you’re holding without bringing up your inventory and selecting the item directly.
The whole set-up seems rushed and leads to more than a few issues along the way.
The wit and wonder of Adventure Time can be found within Finn and Jake Investigations, but it’s something that only long-time fans will appreciate. As a point-and-click mystery Investigations often stumbles, though it finds solid ground in its source material.
If you enjoy the show and can find the game for a bargain it’s certainly worth a few laughs, otherwise keep your lumping hands off.
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