Taking the digital snoop, Jessika is a keyword video based detective game for PC. It follows a familiar vibe to Her Story where you’ll be searching through found footage to undercover a mystery but Jessika saves its best surprises for the story it tells.
You play an employee at a digital recovery company that specialises in recovering data from people who have died. A father hands over his daughters laptop – Jessika. She’s committed suicide and he’d like to have you scan her computer for various files to see if he can find more reasons behind it and find closure. Its a dark premise with lots of moral layers to think about and that’s just the opening twenty minutes!
The game takes places entirely on your laptop. You’ll have an instant messenger to chat with Jessika’s father as well your work colleagues. There you’ll bounce off ideas and discuss the case and you’ll have options on how to reply. It won’t necessarily change the entire ending of the game but it will give you different slants on various dilemmas. The main bulk of the game is in the encryption program. Here, you’ll be using keywords to find files to view. These will mostly be video clips of Jessika’s vlogs but also pictures, documents and scans of files. As you watch Jessika’s vlogs, you’ll hear peoples names, places, events and thoughts to try and find more files by searching under those terms. For example, I started off with ‘father’ and that led me to ‘mother’ and ‘school’. It works similarly to how ‘Dr Dekker’ originally launched before the game added the option to just choose replies.
The beauty of this system is that find key story notes naturally on your own path and you might try some keywords that others wont and find the vlogs in different orders. This leads you to think Jessika may be thinking one thing when she’s really thinking something else entirely. To stop someone accidently discovering a big plot reveal too early, the encryption programme rates clips at certain levels and the next level unlocks as you find most of the previous levels clips. This means you can’t break the storyline but still have a nuanced delivery of it that feels natural enough.
It is the story that makes Jessika stand out though. You’ll only have video access to her and the actress playing her gets progressively more emotional and distressed as the videos go on. She draws you in and as the plot weaves around, you wonder exactly which thing is the tipping point for her suicide. It is at that point you start to realise that the story is not so straightforward and the second half of the game takes a turn down a story path we don’t often see in games. You’ll be wondering if Jessika is actually the victim after all and whilst the game wraps up its ending without huge empty holes, you’ll be asking questions about things afterwards and how it makes you feel.
The game took me around 4-5 hours to complete and I did find I’d gone around in circles narrowly missing some keywords. I think this may be down to the original performances all being in German and some of the English voiceover may have translated into slightly different words with a different emphasis. It didn’t stop me enjoying the game, but I did end up spamming a few variations to then hit the right mark. The only other minor complaint I had was that later in the game a glitch effect happens with the laptop as you are being hacked at the same time. It would purposely close your programmes down and I didn’t find it ‘good’ gameplay to have to keep reopening things.
Those niggles aside, I found Jessika to be an interesting experimental found footage style of detective game. A unique story in gaming coupled with a still fresh approach to detective work – there is plenty to enjoy.
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