By Campbell Turner
“Alternate Jake Hunter DEADALUS The Awakening of Golden Jazz” is a prequel game showing us how the beloved detective Jake Hunter (referred to in game by his Japanese name Saburo Jinguji) got his start. In typical Jake Hunter fashion, you go around interviewing a cast of ever changing cast of characters, however in this game you can also progress conversations through stances, a new mechanic to this installment.
The story starts with Jake meeting some friends from summer camp and going to see the spot where his grandfather was shot. He dedicates his trip to finding the person who killed Grandfather. In your quest as Jake, you’re joined by your Grandfather’s assistant, Dan. Dan is a loyal, straightforward man who cared for Jake’s grandfather almost as much as he did. Together you end up going all over New York solving mysteries that plague the people of the area.
I adored the stance mechanic in the game; it’s ability to sway suspects and unlock new endings was really well thought out and implemented. They make you pause and gather your thoughts to carefully think through what you want to say because you can make wrong decisions, giving every stance you take real weight. Like in other Jake Hunter games, every chapter has a part where you summarize the events of that chapter’s mystery. I loved this mechanic before and am overjoyed to see it return. It feels awesome to deliver that “gotcha” moment and tie everything up nicely.
While I had a good time with this game, there are some glaring issues with it. Traveling is a long and often confusing process. While I applaud the game’s trust in the player to figure out the next location, sometimes there just aren’t enough hints. This results in aimlessly clicking around the map and waiting through long transitions only to be told that you have no business in that area. The game does this more near the climax of the chapters which inevitably makes moments where you should feel like a great detective make you feel like more of a dunce, taking away from many of the game’s best moments.
Similarly, the Mind Orchard slowly fades in and animates its text at a snail’s pace. It also blocks any input until the new information has been placed on the tree, which makes any segment in the game where you get lots of clues at once, at least once in every single chapter, really grating. Despite its flaws, I had a lot of fun with the title and would recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of mystery visual novels. It gets 4 out of 5 stars.