Review Jack Keane 2 they said! You’ll get to travel the world, pointing at things and then clicking!
Upon accepting the task we were found trapped in a Shanghai prison listening to bad Chinese voice acting and questionable humour. Was it worth it? Let’s find out…
We have to admit that it’s been a while since point and click adventures were at the forefront of gaming. Back in the day they were a staple for any PC gamer, but slowly they seemed to get sidelined by flashy first person shooters made possible by the advent of 3D graphics cards. Recently there has been a resurgence of all things retro and with games like Machinarium, The Walking Dead & Swords & Sorcery EP (there are too many to list!) there is a lot going on in the realm of point and click.
In Jack Keane 2 we have an adventure very much in the vein of the old Lucas Arts adventure games, think Indiana Jones with a heavy dose of Monkey Island thrown in (with a dollop of Uncharted chic). Its two main characters are adventurer Jack Keane and his love interest Amanda, both of whom are playable at different points in the game. The gameplay itself is mostly good old object collection/combining along with the usual text tree based NPC interaction. Along with this come’s a combat mini game, platforming and not surprisingly a generous helping of cut scenes.
From the first cut scene we were a bit dubious, you start trapped in prison and your first task (of course) is to escape. The humour in the game leans heavily on racial stereotyping & bad accents and is amusing at best. The plot itself keeps you interested but some of the cut scenes drag on and the writing is below average for the genre. Where the game excels is in its point and click puzzling.
The puzzles in the game are well measured and rarely frustrate while providing plenty of satisfaction in their resolution. They also provide for some bizarre and entertaining situations. Like having to beat a blind Chinese man in a nitroglycerine drinking competition or fashioning an oversized spoon for a monkey chef. It feels rewarding moving the plot forward every time you work out solutions to each locations problems.
The plot itself relies on looking for pieces of an amulet that will allow you to find a lost treasure called “Ukumba”. Along the way you will visit various locations (a Hamburg Dock, an African Desert and so on). There are even sections based in Jacks own psyche which provide a surreal counterpoint to the rest of the game and some of the best humour. It’s all very silly stuff but it has its standout moments and serves its purpose well.
Graphically, the game looks dated. The engine is clunky, fairly ugly, prone to clipping and the bright cartoony art direction does nothing to mask this. It gets the job done but, for 2013, it’s not stand out stuff.
You use the WSAD keys or the mouse to navigate the environment, but badly chosen static camera angles often make this a frustrating experience. Sections where you must jump from crate to crate are also let down by drifting controls and bad collision detection. Luckily, the camera problems are not game breaking and platform sections are few and far between.
Jack Keane 2 is a perfectly enjoyable romp through a series of somewhat amusing tropes but feels like it could have been so much more. It lacks the wit of Monkey Island or Grim Fandango while failing to provide the sophistication of more modern adventure games. The first Jack Keane game was released back in 2007 and the series feels like it has paid little attention to new developments in the genre since then.
If the subject matter appeals to you or if you are a massive point and click fan you should give it a go. Otherwise you might be better off with one the multitude of alternatives available.
Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within is available now for PC.