Jessika | Review

Jessika Title

Trigger Warning:

This game discusses and/or contains material relating to the following

  • Suicide
  • Racism
  • Alcoholism
  • Sexual Abuse

Jessika is an FMV, or Full Motion Video, game by Tritrie Games, and published by Assemble Entertainment. You are an employee of White Flower, a company that uses their abilities as hackers to access encoded files to help give families closure on loved ones.

You log into your laptop at a café, and the entire game takes place via the programs on said laptop. You are asked to look into the life of Jessika, who has reportedly committed suicide. Her father contacts White Flower, and by extension, you, to find out what led her to take her own life. They had become estranged, and he wants answers.

Your main source of outsider information and contact is through Wizzapp, definitely not WhatsApp, where you exchange correspondence with your coworkers and the client, trying to garner more information, sharing what you’ve found, and also just interacting with them socially. My personal favourite is Chad, who has an anime girl as his profile picture.

Your main asset is the decrypter tool. You are provided with the IP address and log in information for Jessika’s personal computer by her father, and from there you begin to search for key words. These key words will bring up files – some encrypted, some corrupted – that you view in order to learn more about Jessika. These files vary from images to notes, and most commonly, videos. This is where the FMV aspect really comes in.

“Jessika” is a real person – in that, she’s played by an actress who stars in each of these videos. The original audio is in German – Jessika is German, and it appears the setting of the game is Germany – and while English audio is available, I found myself listening to it in the original German. What can I say, sub not dub. I’m sure Chad would agree. There are subtitles that are activated by pressing the globe icon at the edge of each window, which scrawl onto the screen not unlike closed captions on YouTube, except entirely located within their own text box.

This game is dark. It opens with suicide, so we know this game isn’t for innocent eyes. But I did not expect it to get quite as dark as it continued to go on. Jessika hasn’t had the easiest of lives. Some of the darker themes come up even in the e-mails you receive throughout the game.

Considering the dark subject matters that come up, the game reminds you to talk if any of these issues affect you, via emails and messages from in-game characters. This responsibility from the game developers is a nice touch, showing their awareness that these are sensitive issues.

Much of the gameplay is guessing keywords. At the start, it seems simple. But as you continue on, as your collection of encrypted files grows, but your list of obvious words grows thin. If you’re like me, you might just throw the whole dictionary in there and see what sticks. The more words that get a ping, the more likely the system is to decrypt the files locked away from you. You need to pay close attention to what Jessika is saying in her videos, for hints as to what to put in next.

There is little in terms of sound design within the game. You have the pings of messages and emails received, and the video recordings themselves. However, if you’re looking for back ground music, be sure to check your laptop’s files – here you will find audio files you can play, as if you are just listening to your own music while you work.

“Jessika” is a fascinating reinvention of the FMV genre. Even without the videos, I enjoy the concept of getting this information and trying to piece together a story through files. Definitely a game to check out, but as the trigger warnings at the beginning of the review make clear, this is not a light-hearted romp.  It touches on some very serious subject matter, and it is made to feel like you are working away on a real laptop. The laptop displays the current time and date of the real world, with messages appearing with the real-world time stamp of when they were received.

Play with caution. And, maybe beef up your own passwords. If yours are anything like the ones in the “500-worst-passwords.txt” file, maybe consider changing them.

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