If you'd like to hear my thoughts on the game while watching some gameplay, you can check out the video review below.
Every now and then, a game will come out that fails to bring anything new or interesting to the table in its respective genre(s). JackQuest: Tale of the Sword is such a game. JackQuest is a platformer with light Metroidvania elements, but it doesn’t have any aspects of note other than the soundtrack and the art style. In fact, the gameplay and story actively work against it. The former grows tiresome, even as new abilities are gained, and the latter may as well not have been there at all.
The reason I say that the absence of a plot would be better than what’s presented is the fact that Jack’s purpose for the entire quest is to save the love of his life, Nara, because she gets kidnapped at the very beginning of the game. The “damsel in distress” trope is a tired one that’s indicative of lazy writing and a lack of creativity, especially by today’s standards. After the kidnapping, Jack immediately stumbles upon a cursed sword named Kuro that has far less to do with the plot than the title of the game would have you believe. The talking sword will occasionally speak to Jack on his journey, but he never actually responds to these lines, and they repeat fairly often in the form of floating text.
Nara is being held somewhere underground, so you’ll be platforming through caverns while avoiding environmental hazards and fending off enemies. The game starts you off with a basic attack and a limited-use special move that can, quite honestly, allow you to reach the final boss without much difficulty. There are other abilities for Jack to obtain, but only two out of the total four additional skills are necessary for completing the game. Most regular enemies can be disposed of with little effort, but the real challenge in JackQuest comes from a mix of loose, momentum-based controls and the enemy placement.
Jack will often be hit by creatures that you can’t actually see unless you get close enough to them. The problem with this is that he has so much momentum when he jumps that you’ll more often than not fly straight into monsters or traps that you couldn’t possibly be aware of prior to the leap. This, combined with the lack of consistently reliable ways to regain health, can lead to many deaths outside of combat situations. Health bottles only restore half a heart and must be bought for a relatively large amount of coins. Hoping for lucky drops from crates is the only other option if you’re running low on funds. Staying on the topic of difficulty, the bosses are actually challenging but remain fair. They make for some good variety, and it’s enjoyable to figure out ways to defeat most bosses while gauging the right time to use your limited special move.
JackQuest is a short experience that took me around three hours to get through, including the time it took to defeat a boss after getting stuck at a checkpoint with half a heart remaining. The completion should take just about that amount of time or less, depending on whether or not you elect to follow a guide. Every achievement, save for two, can be obtained through making your way through the game normally. The trickier two require players to find every extra heart and every extra gem.
Check out our Best Xbox Platformer Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.
SummaryJackQuest attempts to blend genre features together with its platforming and metroidvania elements, but it ends up being quite average in execution in almost all aspects. The art style and catchy, albeit short, soundtrack are positives, but they do little to eliminate the middling feel of the game. The plot doesn’t make me care to learn anything about the characters or what will happen to them, and the gameplay, while serviceable, doesn’t compel me to recommend JackQuest to fans of this style of game. It isn’t a terrible game, but there are far better options for those who are looking to for a fun retro romp.
- Bosses offer a good challenge
- Looks good visually
- Damsel in distress trope makes for a lazy premise
- Offers nothing new or above average in any genre
- Loose, momentum-based movement hurts the platforming here
This reviewer spent approximately three hours ignoring a talking sword while managing to unlock 11 out of 13 achievements. A review code was provided by the publisher.
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