Pleasant Retread: A Review Of Jack Keane 2

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One of the greatest things about getting to review so many adventure games is realizing that there are so many adventure games. Good ones, too. Like I’ve said a hundred times, these are games being made by people who ostensibly know their stuff, having grown up on classics by Sierra and LucasArts.

But gosh, what do you do–what do you say–when a game is just… average?

We’ve got a game that’s actually kind of cool, in the most detached way possible. The art style (and humor) is a surprisingly charming mix of Double Fine cartoonishness with a dash of Leisure Suit Larry thrown in for good measure. But while I was lapping it up the entire time, I wasn’t picking my jaw up off the floor. The writing is humorous, but not groundbreaking, and the relationships in the game are fun, but not revelatory.

I feel like it’s all been done before, and literally nothing about it grabs me. It’s just… detachment all around.

It’s a game that, like its predecessor, takes place in a lush, tropical locale, which is great; I’ve always felt that environments like this haven’t been beaten into the ground as much as, say, fantasy worlds, so they could ostensibly be rife with innovation. But I didn’t feel like this was, and it felt like a missed opportunity. It’s not filled with a heady plot to keep up with, either. So with little spark and a frankly forgettable plot, it’s kind of like being in an episode of Gilligan’s Island.

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There is one particularly odd choice, and that’s the fighting mechanic in the game that makes you pick cards to defend yourself. A fight starts (with a pirate, let’s say), and the opponent throws a punch in slow motion. Several cards representing defensive maneuvers are displayed at the bottom of the screen, and the player must pick one that will appropriately deflect the incoming blow. It’s every bit as left-field and pace-breaking as it sounds, and no accounting for personal taste here, but I simply felt this mechanic was out of place.

And you know, these things are all fine! Hell, a lot of people may prefer their adventure games this way: simple, pretty, and bereft of the need for thought. Plus, nothing about the game is really broken, either. Someone’s going to think this is a really good game! A really good game that we’ve all played before, but really good nonetheless.

But for me, for the industry, that’s not enough.

So what do you do when a game is just a moderately pleasant retread?! If you’re developer Deck 13, you call it Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within. You release it, and continue to establish yourself as a promising, mid-level developer. You support it, knowing that adventure games come in a hundred different shades and varieties now, and every one finds an audience that will champion it to the ends of the Earth.

 

Pixels or Death gives Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within a 3 out of 5.