The game takes you through a storybook journey of two boys (Jim and Frank) who set off to solve the annual birthday based riddles that Jim’s grandfather has set out for them. The result is a mission that aims at grandiose but falls short in its execution.
The overall aesthetic and dialogue of The Jim and Frank Mysteries make the game feel as if it’s aimed at the late elementary/middle school. Longer than necessary dialogues between characters are predictable, but might be entertaining for kids. The dialogue in the game is definitely rated G and Jim and Frank bring up the ethical side of what their parents might think about things more than once. As an adult, the exchanges feel worthless, but I can’t speak for kids and hope that they would enjoy Jim and Frank’s conversation.
If they do enjoy Jim and Frank’s exchanges between townspeople then this game might be a stealthy way to get your kid reading, but when it comes time to solve problems and do favors for people in the town, the puzzles can be a bit of a challenge, even for adults. Some of the puzzles are fun and simple age ranking questions that go something like, “Rose is older than Jane is older than Sallie. Sallie is younger than Susan but Jane is… Who is the middle child?”
Other puzzles are a bit more obscure and difficult to discern. In one case you have to figure out how to turn all the lights off in a room with a distinct pattern, in another you have to figure out how to get so many gallons of water in different containers. Some of the problems (like separating a bunch of pigs in their pens with a limited number of ropes) are a ton of fun, but some of the instructions don’t feel all that clear, especially for kids.
If the puzzles seem too hard you can use Eurekas to get (obscure) hints that will help you find the correct answer. Then if you answer correctly you gather gold coins and eventually, more Eurekas. Before long though, you figure out that Eurekas are actually a plea to make you spend real money (on top of what you paid for the app) for more hints to get you through the game.
So while you may be able to solve all of this game’s puzzles as an adult, if you’re a parent you may find yourself pulling our your credit card so that your son or daughter can play more Blood River Files. After all, you can only skip puzzles if you buy your way out of them. Frankly, this feels like a cheap form of virtual money; somewhat of a rip off in a game that would have otherwise been a nice way to get kids thinking.
Bottom Line: Jim and Frank: The Blood River Files [iTunes Link] leads players through a mediocre story with some average and some strong puzzle play. This game has a lot of potential but it misses, especially with the hidden cost of buying hints in the form of Eurekas.