Howdy, Jacob! by Seedbolt Studios
Howdy, Jacob! by SeedBolt Studios, starts off really interesting from the get-go. You play as someone who is going to take over the role of Jacob on the fictional Laughsail television show.
In order to do so, you need to undergo a hidden object training course to get hired. It’s your job to find the hidden objects with the help of the puppet cast members of the show.
Each level comes complete with an introduction from the wacky cast members, and each space is connected to the show in some way. For example, I had to find objects in a place that housed the previous Jacob’s locker. Other levels had me going to a broccoli farm or a puppet’s spell-casting chamber.
Levels are wildly different from one another, which helped make the object-hunting more interesting. And what’s great about these levels is that they do some subtle, yet sparse world-building.
Puppets but with Adult Themes…Has That Been Done Yet?
The dystopian world the game is set in is quite interesting. I wish I could learn more about the world and the Laughsail show itself. When you first start the game, you’re greeted with a text crawl of the world in which the show takes place. It mentions some wild stuff, like a powerful artificial intelligence, the ill-fated demise of past cast members, and the show being used as propaganda.
I wish the game did more of this world-building throughout the game to expand the fiction. There is some of it when you read item descriptions, but it feels more like random facts than a main narrative focus. Howdy, Jacob! would have made for a more intriguing, interesting experience if it focused more on expanding its universe.
Instead, it focuses more on the brief interactions with the puppet cast members, which is fine, but I didn’t find any of them to be as interesting as the world itself.
The game employs a lot of clips and the game has its own sense of humor. For me personally, most of the humor didn’t land. I did crack a smile when one of the old puppets would constantly get lost and confused and at a funny bonus clip of a puppet who is educating on healthy eating but is eating bricks.
Other than those instances, unfortunately, a lot of the FMV clips didn’t add much to my overall enjoyment of the game. It didn’t seem to be parodying anything in particular, and the clips felt improvised.
Other than narrative stuff, Howdy, Jacob! is your familiar hidden-object experience. You have a list of objects you must find in each level: things ranging from spoons to novelty mugs. And if you need help, you can ask for a hint or an unhelpful hint. The former shows you where an item is by highlighting it, while the latter shows clips of the puppets saying random, uninformative things.
Other than completing the game’s 10 levels, there isn’t much reason to go back and play them. During a couple of levels, you can unlock some FMV bonus clips, if you’re itching for more puppet shenanigans.
You can replay levels, too, but not much else. And since the game can be completed in about an hour, it an overall short experience.
Backstage at the Puppet Theater
I do really like the hand-drawn backgrounds in the game. It gives the game this nice, storybook feel. Colors pop, and objects are clearly drawn and can be made out without much effort.
I also really liked how detailed each art piece is. There were a lot of small things that even helped me infer things about the game’s world. For example, after finding a potato scoop, the description mentions how a past Jacob actor fell victim to an unsolved carjacking. Little details like that give the game more personality.
Howdy Jacob is an odd game – definitely one of the oddest hidden object games I’ve played – but I feel like it could have been better if it developed its eccentric world a bit more because the small bits of lore are really compelling.
Without much to sink your teeth into, there really isn’t much else to make this game truly stand out. But what’s here is enough for those looking to chill by finding objects while FMV puppets talk to you.
Howdy, Jacob! is available via Steam.
Check out the official trailer for Howdy, Jacob! below: