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Thursday | December 8, 2016
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Jack Keane (PC)

Jack Keane (PC)

Jack Keane is a game clearly inspired by the classic Monkey Island from Lucasarts. Deck 13, the developer of Ankh have borrowed the traditional adventure fare, starring a brave chisel chinned hero (Keane), a hot headed love interest, silly pirates and a bad guy resplendent with camp moustache.

Jack’s game introduction is less than a happy affair, he starts strapped into a chair in the Big Ben clock tower with two debt collectors intent on getting money he owes. Keane manages to escape their clutches and immediately accepts a mission to help the Queen in her quest to save her precious tea (don’t ask!). Keane sets sail in his boat "The Charming Princess" for Tooth Island after picking up one of the Queen’s secret agents in Cape Town (a guy called Montomery). It is here that Jack stumbles across a stunning woman called Amanda who is also on her way to Tooth Island, so she joins the crew.

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The game takes off once they reach the mysterious Island and we learn about Keane’s background as well as his adversary, the evil Doctor T. Thankfully the game remains firmly tongue in cheek throughout and works wonderfully well within its confines. The dialogue is witty and humorous and the characters are wacky and full of life. Granted there is very little which could be deemed as original or ground breaking but it is still a fun adventure and one worth spending time with. There are also some hilarious comments regarding current popular television shows such as Lost. Clearly the game developers have their finger on the pulse as there are even events in the game which relate to modern day technological escapades, such as a guy on the island who has lost everything to a Nigerian email scam. Occasionally the game slips up in its translation from German to English with broken dialogue or weirdly phrased sentences. A little like using babelfish online. Surely the game developers didn’t use that?!

The game is extremely easy to learn and the menus are all well designed and intuitive to use. By simply clicking the left mouse button you will look at items and right clicking allows you to interact with objects and other people you will meet on the journey. Double clicking makes Jack run, and interestingly Amanda is also controllable later in the game. Your inventory items are shown at the top of the screen for easy use and once they are used they disappear. Obvious exclusions to this disappearing act are the weapons such as the guns or knives which both characters carry.

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As it is an adventure game, the meat and bones are the puzzles and to be honest I found them pretty easy to solve all the way through the game. If you are a seasoned adventure veteran you may very well find this game simplistic in nature and not much of a challenge. This however is somewhat missing the point of the game, as it is intended to be really quite silly. On rare occasion the puzzles seem rather bizarre and unsolvable, and only by accident will you stumble across a combination of items to solve a particular scene. Random combinations of items ? I am not sure any sane person enjoys solving puzzles in such a way, I know I sure as hell don’t ! There are some bonus puzzles to solve which unlock additional in game content. The only problem is, these are very easily missed and I doubt even a small percentage of the game playing public would even notice them.

The game also requires the gamer to poke and prod the environments for everything collectable as almost everything you find has some use later in the game.  The mouse cursor changes to indicate something can be taken and while most objects are obvious to see without a roll over, some are particularly deceptive.

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Jack and Amanda are also invincible as it is impossible to die while playing, (even if you try) so this game might be suited more to a younger audience who get frustrated with having to reload their saved games every 20 seconds.

The graphics are colourful and put me in mind somewhat of the Sam and Max games which are personal favourites of mine. The only downside is the level of saturation which can make some sections of the game look rather gaudy. Tooth Island is however for the most part a great environment for your kids to get lost in and explore and is PG child friendly. The environments are also varied and exciting enough to keep them interested and coming back for more and the animation is very good. The cut scenes also deserve particular mention as they are very professionally rendered, a little like watching a cartoon.

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The voice acting however is a little weak and the accents, while funny at the start, soon become extremely grating. Dr T has a high pitched squeal which is sure to attract the younger audience but at the same time alienate any adults in the vicinity. Surprisingly, even though Jack Keane himself was born in England he ends up with a very unusual mixture of what appears to be German and French. Again the substandard translation from German to English rears its ugly head as some of the sentences appear to end mid flow leaving the animations moving on screen with no audio to complete the picture. The music however in some part redeems the failings as they cue at the right times and add atmosphere to the proceedings.

The game also seems a little flaky in parts and I had several crashes to desktop on an ATI based system, updating the drivers to the latest Catalyst (released half way through this review) seemed to help matters, however I am hoping a forthcoming game patch should improve stability.

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Jack Keane is a relative success and even with the issues mentioned in the review, as an overall package it will appeal to a large section of the gaming public, especially the younger audience who want something simple, fun and non offense to enjoy at the weekend. The old fashioned nature is endearing and the tongue in cheek plot is charming and very funny. The majority of the puzzles will not appeal to the hard core adventure audience as they are much too simple. Overall it is recommended, especially if you liked the charm of the classic Monkey Island.

Gameplay
78/100
Easy to play and quite a lot of fun, especially if you like the old school nature of the adventure game.
Graphics
72/100
Bright and charming, perfectly acceptable for this genre, but nothing really noteworthy.
Sound
70/100
The voice acting is not wonderful, but the music compensates a little.
Value
75/100
Some bonus content and multiple ways to solve some puzzles.
Overall
(Not an Average)
77/100
Entertaining and worth a look for most people.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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