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Video Game / Jenny LeClue

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In the sleepy town of Arthurton, nothing ever changes. Kid Detective Jenny LeClue has solved dozens of tired, predictable mysteries from missing eyeglasses to lost jars of marmalade. She largely spends her days throwing rocks with her quiet best friend Keith or dodging the insults of the local Alpha Bitch Girl Posse, led by her cousin Suzie Glatz. Bored and unchallenged, all Jenny wants is a chance to prove that she could be a truly great detective if given the opportunity.

Meanwhile, less-than-celebrated author Arthur K. Finklestein faces his own problems. After over thirty years of writing stories in the Jenny LeClue book series, his sleepy, cozy mystery tales are wearing out their welcome. Both his critics and his publisher are demanding something different. They want Jenny to face actual danger. They want her to solve a murder. Facing the cancellation of his beloved characters, Arthur caves to the mounting pressure and sets Jenny onto a new, more dangerous adventure...

Jenny LeClue is an Adventure Game developed and published by Mografi. The game received crowd-funding from Kickstarter in August 2014; it released September 19, 2019 for PC, iOS and Android, with a Nintendo Switch version coming out August 25, 2020. A PlayStation 4 version is also in the works. The game promises a thrilling adventure story as Jenny investigates the mysteries of Arthurton, while also controlling the dangerous direction Arthur Finklestein finds himself taking Jenny's story.

This game provides examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Part of the final act takes place in the sewers underneath the town, featuring a network of pipes that is rather intricate for a small town like Arthurton.
  • All-Loving Hero: Suzie is a complete sweetheart to everyone she meets... which is ironically one of the reasons why Jenny hates her, as it makes her come across as far too perfect. Learning about her Hidden Depths, despite feeling bad about her having to hide her intelligence, just serves to annoy Jenny even further.
  • Alpha Bitch: Played with. Suzie Glatz herself is actually pretty kind, but her Girl Posse are all too happy to be jerks in her place by turning any comments that could at best be construed as Innocently Insensitive into actual insults. Jenny certainly treats her cousin as though she is an Alpha Bitch, and the player has the option to make Jenny continue to behave in that manner even after they start working together and it's made clear Suzie desires Jenny's friendship.
  • Arc Words: "A great detective..." It's a phrase that prefaces every bit of advice Julie gives to her daughter. Arthur says it as well while trying to figure out which character he has to kill before the end of the story.
  • The Atoner: Dean Strausbery. He worked for the Council of Three in the past, and after being confronted by Julie, he decided to betray them and work with Julie to expose them.
  • Author Phobia: In-Universe. Arthur's biggest fears are losing his characters forever and danger reaching his precious little town. And he channels this into the story itself by sending Arthurton into some kind of pocket world, forever separate from the rest of Earth.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Jenny's interrogations and deductions.
  • Bad Boss: Between Zazer's journal and messages from the company you can find in the mine, it's clear that Glatz Corp is run by these.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • After getting told by his publisher that his next book must have a murder, the first scene Arthur writes is of Jenny dead on the part of a CSI lesson her mother is teaching at the local university.
    • Initially, we're led to believe that the mysterious transmissions from the Zazer Domes that Jenny finds are connected to the Dean's murder. Instead, after finding the missing page to the children's book that functions as the decoder, it's discovered that they're actually a message from Jenny's father.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: All Jenny wanted was a real mystery. Then her best friend's dad was murdered and her mom became the prime suspect.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Jenny is cornered by the Man in Black underneath the graveyard, Suzie and Keith come to the rescue, temporarily knocking him unconscious.
  • Born Detective: Julie LeClue was a crime scene investigator for years before becoming a college professor. Additionally, Jenny's grandfather is the town sheriff, a tradition that went back for generations in the men of the family before Henry's death.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Arthur's critics and his publisher Richard complain that Arthur is terrified of putting his beloved characters in danger. Arthur even seems to have a panic attack writing Jenny into precarious situations that he can easily write her out of. On the other hand, Arthur's belief that his publisher is a hack is supported by Richard's inability to see a story having excitement without a murder to solve. And even with the thrills Jenny's adventure already had, Richard insists on a second murder and despises Arthur's attempt to undo the Dean's death.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: A non-romantic example. Jenny can't admit that she needs Suzie's help for the life of her. Suzie eventually get irritated by this enough to outright demand Jenny admit they're friends before helping her escape the police.
  • Caustic Critic: Arthur's publisher Richard sends him a review of the last Jenny LeClue book where the nicest thing the critic says is that the book is an effective doorstop. And that's merely the tip of the iceberg if the fact that Richard covered up the rest of the review with black marker is any indication.
  • Character Development: Discussed. One of Arthur's flaws is his fear of change and attempts to avoid giving Jenny this. He even considers skipping her development so she can be friends with Suzie faster. However, he eventually starts to allow Jenny to grow naturally and lets himself grow as an author.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Dean's expertise with plants is crucial to the plot to fake his death and bring him back to life.
  • Cliffhanger: Detectivu ends with a character killed by Arthur as the machines beneath Arthurton malfunction.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Local Conspiracy Theorist CJ is this to a tee. Doesn't mean he's entirely off-base with his theories, though.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Certain characters have colored subtitles: Jenny's are blue-green, Suzie's are pink, and Keith's are yellow. In a more minor example, in the few instances you take Julie's POV to look for clues, the icon lights up red when you find something to interact with.
  • The Conspiracy: The Council of Three, the architects behind all the mysterious technology Jenny keeps finding, and the ones who covered up the true cause of the mine's collapse. Their identities aren't revealed in-game, but Dean Strausbery worked for them for a time, and Suzie's parents are strongly linked to them.
  • Cozy Mystery: In-universe, the Jenny LeClue series has become a Franchise Zombie by sticking to this theme for 37 books. The game, and this book, is a Genre Deconstruction, as the theme is that the fear of change inherent in the genre isn't good - Arthur has to learn to move on.
  • Darker and Edgier: An in-universe example. As a result of Richard's Executive Meddling, Arthur is forced to kill one of his characters and put Jenny into actual danger for what is probably the very first time in 38 books.
  • Desecrating the Dead: After her mother's arrest, Jenny experienced a huge Freak Out during the Dean's funeral, causing the casket to drop his body out as she blacked out, she immediately forgot what happened until Suzie reminded her about it.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Arthur is shown to be downright terrified of putting Jenny in any sort of danger, which is the primary reason his books have lost a fair amount of their former popularity. The character of Jenny herself longs for nothing more than some real adventure, but she's constantly rail-roaded by her creator into solving the most mundane and unimpressive mysteries imaginable. When he finally does allow her to veer out of his comfort zone, he almost has a panic attack over it at first and at one point even tries to retcon his changes, but eventually learns that he must let things play out on their own and explore new ideas as a writer. Without the writer-character angle, this could almost be read as an overprotective father accepting that he can't protect his daughter from everything and learning to let her go and develop into her own person.
  • Double Meaning: The message "Trapped on the other side" Jenny discovers leads her to presume her father is behind the metallic door, when in actuality, he's on another dimensional plane, where Arthurton used to be.
  • Executive Meddling: In-Universe. It literally kicks off the plot.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: After you escape the Glatz house, the plot of the last two-thirds of the game unfolds from the late evening to just before sunrise.
  • Extreme Doormat: Suzie's parents control her entire life and she's not tough enough to curtail the Alpha Bitch tendencies of her Girl Posse. Jenny is similarly quick to push Suzie around when they ally for the investigation.
  • Faking the Dead: Dean Strausbery, with the help of Julie.
  • Fiery Redhead: Jenny can be played this way.
  • Freakiness Shame: Played with. Suzie is a technical genius, and actually quite proud of it, but her parents have a strong Stay in the Kitchen mentality that pushes her to hide it.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Suzie.
  • Gilded Cage: After the Dean's funeral, Jenny is locked up in Suzie Glatz's home, where her mother threatens her with pony rides and afternoon tea.
  • Good Is Not Nice: While Jenny is ultimately on the side of justice, she can definitely be abrasive when it comes to dealing with good-natured characters like CJ and Suzie. The extent of this is up to the player, however.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Depending on how you approach interacting with others, Jenny can be played this way.
  • Hide the Evidence: Twice, the player has the choice to either remove evidence connecting Jenny's mother to the Dean's death or to leave it at the scene.
  • Insufferable Genius: Jenny's observational skills are far beyond the more straight-forward or dim citizens of Arthurton and she knows it. Even at her kindest, she's incredibly sardonic to everyone around her, and the player has the option to let her say some pretty rude things even to people she likes and respects. In particular, her retorts towards the Girl Posse are agreed by all observers to be much crueler than anything they've ever said.
  • Interface Screw: If you have CJ's compass equipped, hidden messages appear on the pause menu in certain spots.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In-universe. Jenny and Arthur push against each other's wants often, to the point of nearly outright arguing. However, while Jenny certainly snarks and groans at some of the narration, she never goes as far as to fully break the fourth wall and neither seem aware of each other's conscious existence.
  • Leitmotif: In the prologue, the player is given the choice to have the Man in Black whistle either something creepy or something "normal" ("Pop Goes the Weasel," which is arguably even more unsettling), which he'll do every time he makes an appearance in the game proper.
  • Long Runner: In-Universe, the Jenny LeClue series has run for 38 books.
  • Madness Mantra: One of the pages in Zazer's journal definitely qualifies.
  • Message in a Bottle: Jenny comes across a series of these while crossing the lake, each containing a cryptic message that she believes is connected to the Dean's murder. Turns out, they're all from CJ.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Arthur goes into a complete panic after writing the Dean's death, to the point of crying into jars of jam and later drinking heavily.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on the choices the player makes, the game ends with either Jenny, her mother, or the Dean being zapped into another dimension as the machines beneath Arthurton begin to malfunction. Checking the journal afterwards will have Jenny comment on this. At least if you didn't choose her as the one to disappear.
  • Narrator: Jenny's adventure being a story written by Arthur, he, of course, narrates it as the player unfolds it.
  • Near-Death Experience: Jenny has so many over the course of the game that she starts keeping track of them in her journal.
  • New Game Plus: After finishing the game for the first time, you can start a New Game+ save which keeps your progress on found stickers and postcard scraps.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: As great a detective Jenny is, she's still just a kid, so after Jenny breaks her mom out of prison, Julie gives her a serious scolding for putting herself and others in danger and not leaving things to the police. Nor does she respond well to Jenny's belief that her father is still alive.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Jenny says this phrase verbatim at the beginning of the game. Sure enough, she stumbles upon a murder mystery shortly after.
  • Not Quite Dead: Dean Strausbery and Jenny's father, though the Dean can die a second time at the end of the game.
  • Only Friend: Suzie sees Jenny as this over the course of the game. It's up to the player whether or not Jenny feels likewise.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Discussed. Jenny is completely dismissive towards Suzie due to this and has a hard time wrapping her mind around the idea Suzie could be smart and pretty.
    Jenny: Brain or bimbo, which is it?!
  • Red Herring: Lampshaded. There's a large fish named the Red Herring in the lake that is considered a local myth.
  • Retirony: Dean Strausbery is found dead just a few days shy of his retirement ceremony.
  • Rule of Three: CJ and Jenny's secret code comes up three times in the story. The first instance has the player filling in the blanks, and the second and third have the player expected to remember it to start the discussion off on the right foot.
  • Shout-Out: A restaurant in town is named Agatha Crustie's. Additionally, a post-credits message from the creators paraphrases Professor Layton: "A true detective leaves no puzzle unsolved."
  • Small, Secluded World: An experiment gone wrong sent Arthurton into another plane entirely, separate from the rest of the world. At least one of the experiments funded by the Council of Three is dedicated to figuring out how to return the town back to Earth.
  • Sequel Hook: Several:
    • The identity of the Man in Black is never revealed, nor are the identities of the Council of Three.
    • Jenny, her mother, or the Dean vanishes from reality in the mausoleum.
    • Jenny's father is still alive, trapped in the alternate version of Arthurton.
  • Shout-Out: Jenny complains about Arthurton being an isolated area with seemingly nothing outside it, then enthuses about finding a color map of Arthurton with a high level of detail - not unlike the first episode of The Prisoner (1967).
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: After breaking back into her house and realizing she won't be able to get her detective gear, Jenny finds a box of her mother's old CSI equipment, including her trenchcoat, which she wears for the rest of the game.
  • Sinister Whistling: Depending on whether you choose "creepy" or "totally normal" at the beginning, The Man in Black will whistle either "This Old Man" or "Pop Goes The Weasel" in his various appearances throughout the game.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye:
    • CJ tries to pull this off while he is briefly off-camera at the end of your first conversation with him. While it works from the player's perspective, it doesn't work from Jenny's.
      Jenny: CJ, I know you're behind the phone booth. I saw you walk over there.
      CJ: (from behind the phone booth) No, I'm not.
    • Played straight with The Man in Black: as soon as she looks away, he seemingly teleports to another location or disappears entirely.
  • String Theory: Arthur has a large board in his study covered with the particulars of the plot.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The free "Spoken Secrets" update in July 2020 took the game, which previously had no voice acting whatsoever, and made it fully voice-acted.
  • Take a Third Option: Arthur is faced with having to either kill off one of his characters or face the end of his series. Arthur attempts to appeal to his publisher by temporarily killing off the Dean before proving he was Faking the Dead. It doesn't work and only angers his publisher more.
  • Tempting Fate: While hiding from the Man in Black in the mine, Arthur's narration says that Jenny only needed a few more seconds of absolute silence to escape unnoticed. Cue Suzie calling on her walkie-talkie.
  • The Scapegoat: The accident that killed numerous miners gets placed on the shoulders of the miners themselves, when it was really the fault of secret nearby seismic experiments.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: As stated throughout the page, Jenny can be a Snark Knight at the best of times, but the player has the ability to dial up the abrasiveness from being occasionally bratty to being an outright bitch. You have Jenny insult someone by bringing up their parent's affair, continuously blackmail and verbally abuse Suzie, and even refuse to accept your mother's apology at the end of the game.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Keith, understandably, doesn't take Jenny disturbing his father's funeral and knocking his father's body out of the coffin very well.
  • Wham Line: "Arthurton: The Town That Disappeared"
  • What the Hell, Hero?: This can be Jenny's response to Suzie trying to get her and Keith to repair their friendship before the graveyard mission. Depending on your choice, you can go even further and outright tell her to drop any delusions about Jenny considering her a friend.
  • Whodunnit to Me?: The first case, "The Case of the Dead Lab Assistant", has Jenny attempting to solve a murder scene where she is the victim.