With the popularity of Adventure Time at an all-time high, video games based on the series are a regular occurrence. Following on from 2014’s Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom, Finn and Jake’s latest virtual voyage sees them taking on the point-and-click genre in Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations, but can the dynamic duo deliver?
Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations: Xbox One [Reviewed],PlayStation 4, Wii U, 3DS Windows PC
Developer: Vicious Cycle Software
Publisher: Little Orbit
Release Date: 6 November 2015 [EU]
Price: £34.99 [Disclosure Game Copy provided by Publisher]
This pretty much goes without saying, but Finn and Jake Investigations is definitely a game for the fans of the television series. From the outset, there is no back-story or context given for the game, and you’re pretty much expected to know all the characters and their inter-relationships. Coming at this game from an uninitiated perspective, not getting to know the characters left me feeling somewhat detached from them – although the banana guards were pretty funny, and seeing Jake morph into a being three times his size with gigantic limbs was terrifying when I first witnessed him use his powers! Unless you’re well-versed on the idiosyncrasies of the cast of characters, most of the interactions between them will be wasted on players looking to experience Adventure Time for the first time, with some characters quite frankly hindering the game and coming off as annoyances, such as the character who delivers the ‘tutorials’.
On the subject of tutorials, these segments of the game are poorly executed. Investing too heavily on the character giving the tutorial rather than the quality of the tutorial itself, these sections fail to actually address specific controls or gameplay elements. All too often are the tutorials filled with words like ‘thingy’ or ‘thing’ when the game should be taking these opportunities to inform the player of specific controls and mechanisms. Although the gameplay is pretty self-explanatory and rather shallow, that doesn’t excuse the tutorials from doing a poor job of informing the player in a valid way and while the option is there to view the controls at any time, this does not excuse the tutorials from doing their job.
Primarily a point-and-click affair, gameplay centres on holding LB in order to highlight areas that can be interacted with. For the most part, these interactions are meaningless if they aren’t central to a puzzle, and enough of these pointless interactions results in discouraging the player from exploring the world, thereby reducing the game to a linear sequence of prompts. Adding to the banal encounters with the game world, the limited soundtrack on offer becomes a haunting repetition of tepid tones. Given the eccentric, fun-loving nature of the franchise, the background music in the game is terribly dull and does Adventure Time a total disservice.
The puzzles on offer in Finn and Jake Investigations couldn’t be simpler if they tried, and anyone with a modicum of puzzle gaming experience will be left wanting as a result of the low calibre head-scratchers on offer here. A combining mechanic allows items to be merged together, but don’t expect a Resident Evil level of depth and item examination – combining items peaks at “here are some candles… here are some matches” logic. The puzzle element of the game is so shallow, that in one section the player can literally pay-to-win by acquiring items from a vending machine that will produce certain items needed to solve specific puzzles. Putting a coin into a vending machine three times is not a puzzle, although it would be fair to point out that the game’s intended audience will find such puzzles challenging enough. The t.v series real demographic, however, will blitz this game within 2 – 3 of dedicated play.
Allowing the player some relief from the synapse-sizzling puzzles, combat sections are equally as ‘challenging’. Battles are humdrum time-wasters that test your ability to tap the X button – and nothing more. For the majority of encounters enemies miss Finn altogether, even if the player is standing still. This, coupled with the fact that Finn doesn’t have a health bar, means there is no consequence whatsoever to combat – if that isn’t the very definition of pointless, then I don’t know what is Sure, Jake has four different powers assigned to a direction on the D-pad and Finn can power-up his sword after he has built up a big enough combo, but these actions add minimal spectacle to fights and have no meaningful effect on combat.
Simply using Finn’s basic attack method will result in higher combo scores equalling more rewards, so there is no incentive to using any other means of fighting. Incidentally, the infamous tutorials fail to mention any specific controls, leaving you to just guess your way through the initial combat sections. Braving your way through these gruelling combat sections rewards the player with meaningless loot that has a purely cosmetic effect on Finn and Jake’s treehouse.
Other general gripes concerning the game include the inability to skip dialogue, which would test the patience of a nun due to the fact that all the dialogue has been designed so that a child can comprehend what is happening, which leaves adults and those with a double-digit IQ and beyond feeling frustrated after a while as they have to sift through all the meaningless exposition doled out by the NPCs. The lack of a compelling reason to continue the game – besides being an avid fan – is also a huge turnoff. Despite all the running around and the colourfulness, there is nothing to do in the world of Adventure Time. For all the franchises quirky ‘randomness’, the world is stale, boring, lifeless and will surely do little to promote a second playthrough from even the most devout of Adventure Time fans, let alone newcomers.