I have got to chill.
Let me clear something up before we begin this review.
I know the title of this article has negative connotations. I just want to let it be known that I adore Adventure time, and I always have high expectations for the video games. I consistently expect greatness when a new game comes out. Although, some of the games are better than others, I’m still waiting on that special one that sends my heart aflutter. I’m still waiting on that special one that makes me smile just from the thought of it. The one that makes me want to tell all of my friends of its awesomeness. Up to this point, I just haven’t felt like my expectations have been met.
With that being said, Finn and Jake Investigations is one of the better Adventure Time video games. It is funny, has great voice acting, and really makes you feel like you are in the land of Ooo. There are times where I felt like I was playing through an episode of the TV show, which should be great news for fans. The developers really nail the vibe of the show. The jokes come packed with the same type of humor that the TV show promises. They are funny and there were even a few moments that made me laugh out loud. However, every time this game made me smile or giggle, from Lemongrab’s awkwardness or LSP’s often hilariously oblivious attitude, the game also made me frown or let out an unfortunate sigh of disappointment.
This game does so much right, though. I was cheering for it to be great throughout my entire play through.
Plot & The Kingdoms of Ooo
Finn & Jake Investigations is a point-and-click style adventure game developed by Vicious Cycle Software and produced by Little Orbit. In this game, we assist Finn and Jake (Finn is the only playable character, though. Although, there is DLC for it called Artifact Checking that allows you to play as Marceline) as they attempt to put their parents’ tickertype tracker to good use and solve some of the mysteries constantly springing up around the land of Ooo. At the beginning of every level, the tickertype prints out a new investigation/episode our dynamic duo must solve (I say episodes because as the intro to each level loads, we are shown a poster that foreshadows what the investigation/episode will be about. It is presented in the same style as the TV show which is really cool).
We control Finn throughout our journey while constantly receiving assistance from Jake. Jake can be used in a multitude of ways: he helps Finn gain access to hard to reach places; he can be used to solve puzzles that require two people; and he can even provide support on the battlefield as you gain invisible loot (more on that later) for taking down waves of enemies. Jake is with you through the entire game, and he never gets in the way or becomes annoying. He is a solid partner. Kudos to the developers for getting his character right.
Instead of looking at this as one game with a central plot, it should be looked at as a game that consists of five short stories. Each short story takes you to a different location in Ooo and there awaits a different mystery for you to solve. In order to solve the investigations, you will need to talk to everyone for clues, solve puzzles to unlock key items or new areas, and sometimes fight and protect some key characters.
Overall, the investigations themselves were OK, but I felt like they were lacking in seriousness or a real dire situation. The TV show is really fun and light-hearted, but it definitely gets real. People really do depend on Finn and Jake, and sometimes they are placed in life-threatening situations where they are forced to make real decisions. This is where the TV show shines. I felt like there were times where this game could have taken that same approach but completely dropped the ball. A perfect example of this is in the investigation “Sour Notes”. The mystery surrounding this investigation was intense and had potentially dangerous possibilities that would have set it apart from the rest of the investigations. But the developers chose to take the safe approach. Now, when compared to the other investigations, it just feels more or less the same. It doesn’t feel unique and it doesn’t set itself apart from the rest of the cases. Actually, none of the investigations really feel unique. They’re just simply OK and that’s a shame because they could have been much more.
One of the best qualities of the game is the setting and all of the glorious kingdoms of Ooo. The game allows you to explore fan-favorite locations that we don’t get to see that much of in the show. For example, the developers do a great job of imagining unexplored back roads in the forest that swallows tree trunk’s house or the secret room in Peppermint Butler’s closet where he experiments on…stuff. These old and new visuals plop you right into this fantastic fantasy world. The in-game view of the Ice Kingdom is a familiar, yet fascinating one. However, actually being able to explore the Ice King’s kitchen and underground network of caves fills the player with a sense of unbridled excitement.
What To Do In The Land of Ooo (Gameplay)
Rough estimate incoming:
Finn and Jake Investigations consist of about 70% puzzle solving and 30% fist-to-face combat action. I actually think the pacing was done quite well. The combat comes at just the right times, and I never felt like there was too little or too much of it. The puzzles are very
easy. Actually, the entire game is far too easy. Most of the puzzles are fairly simple and can be solved pretty quickly. The ones that I did struggle with were because I didn’t have all of the necessary items to solve them. In these situations, you just have to search each area again inch-by-inch to find the cleverly hidden item. Most puzzles/objectives consists of a character missing a certain item and you retrieving it for them, or you making a bootleg (fake) version of that item (by combining two items together to make a new one). As previously stated, the puzzles are easy, but the stories behind them keep them just interesting enough to not be considered a chore.
The rest of your time spent in the game will be fighting, which is also entirely too easy. The fighting segments of the game consists of Finn and Jake taking on waves of enemies. The further you get in the game the more enemy types you encounter and some of them can be tougher than previous enemies. However, all of them are easy and there aren’t that many enemy types. Although the fighting segments can be relegated to simple button mashing, they are cool (sometimes), and they were done well. Let’s break combat down into two segments: let’s talk about the cool vs the uncool elements.
- The Swords – If you explore the bottom portion of Finn and Jake’s treehouse, you’ll eventually discover Finn’s weapons closet. All of the swords that you unlock throughout the game will end up here. You can come to this closet to equip a sword and to read a brief description of it and its abilities. In combat, once you reach a certain combat chain (x5), you can activate your sword’s special ability. These abilities are really cool and add some much-needed special effects and flare into the battles. I found myself anxious to unlock more swords so that I could see more cool special abilities.
- Loot – After every battle, you have the opportunity to obtain loot based on how well you did. The more you get hit = the less loot you receive. At the end of the battle, Finn and Jake will be super beat up and say you should try again to get better loot. The less you get hit = more loot. We know this to be true because after the fight the duo will be excited and inform you that you kicked butt and tell you to check out all the loot you received. Here lies the problem… what loot? There isn’t any because you can’t see it. The game constantly tells you about all of this awesome loot that you are receiving after every battle, but you never actually see any of it because it’s invisible and serves no purpose! Wtf?! There isn’t a currency system in the game, so you aren’t using the loot to purchase new items or upgrades. It’s literally pointless. The only loot you can see are the swords you may unlock. Key emphasis on “may” because the swords just randomly unlock after battle. It doesn’t matter if you do well or get completely pummeled.
- Jake’s Special Abilities – Similar to how you unlock each sword’s special ability, If you reach a combo chain of x5, you unlock four special abilities for Jake that can be used in battle. These are also really cool and can change the tide of battle. My favorites are Finn and Jake’s muscle suit. However it doesn’t really matter which power up you choose, they are all OP and pretty much guarantee victory.
- Disappointing Boss Battle (slight spoilers) – Once again, there was another opportunity for this game to do something different and switch things up a bit. In the chapter “Sour Notes”, one character warns you about three enemies who you would have to fight. They are all “Elite” guards, and they vary in power level. The last of them being this amazing warrior who has never lost a battle. Once again, my mouth begins to water with anticipation. Then, the unfortunate sigh of disappointment. All three bosses are visually identical. There is nothing to separate them other than their move set has been changed to include one new move. They weren’t anymore powerful than the normal enemies, and their lazy character design crushed any excitement I had for this moment. Might as well have named them Elite Guards A,B and C.
- Can’t Skip Dialogue/ Cut Scenes – I’m sorry but this has nothing to do with combat. I’m still going to add it here. In addition to puzzles and fighting, the last chunk of your game consists of talking to random characters in Ooo. This is a major component of the game because characters provide clues and even give items. Well this sucks for people like me who have to replay the entire game for the platinum trophy because they missed ONE collectible. I haven’t decided yet if I want to do another play through because I don’t want to sit through extremely long dialogue sections.
The game is really short, if you wanted to and had the time, you could probably beat it in one sitting. However, I feel like it’s just the right length. Towards the end, the game starts to get so repetitive it becomes mundane. For example, the settings in the game are awesome. BUT this game is entirely too short for them to reuse the locations over and over. It is especially egregious because some characters you interact with mention other kingdoms in Ooo. Instead of sending us to the fire kingdom x amount of times, how about letting us go to the laundry kingdom to pick up laundry. Instead of going back and forth to the Ice Kingdom, I want to go to the Slime Kingdom or simply somewhere new. There are many aspects of this game that come off as lazy, and the repetitiveness of the game really puts a spotlight on all of its flaws.
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Check out the trailer for Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations below!!!