Not the JackBest

When I purchased Whipseey and the Lost Atlas a couple weeks ago, I bought JackQuest: The Tale of the Sword at the same time. They were the same price, and both on sale with the same discount applied. I probably should have clued in that they’re by the same developer/publisher.

Indeed, Blowfish Studios is not making the best name for themselves in my book. While I’m somewhat ambivalent about Whipseey (it’s too colourful to be mad at), I can say confidently that I did not especially like JackQuest.

Unlike Whipseey, JackQuest has a little meat to it. But not much, mind you. It took me about an hour and a half to finish. That includes a lot of time being stuck and going in circles because the entire game is one samey-looking dungeon with no direction and one false wall that you must find to move on. That said, JackQuest is a wee little metroidvania, and it does have power-ups, keys, switches, save points, etc, etc. All the Video Game Things you expect, as opposed to Whipseey’s very minimalist design.

While I am mildly annoyed at JackQuest’s whole “here’s a maze, figure it out” design, it’s not technically a flaw. You can roughly navigate by landmarks, and while it takes about half the game to earn it, there is a rudimentary map available. It’s old-school design. I played games like this for years and didn’t knock them because they lacked features that would lead me directly to each point of interest. In a game that was more fun, I might even appreciate the invitation to draw up my own map.

The real problem with JackQuest is that the controls are loosey-goosey, and the physics don’t feel like they make sense. Jack has a really weird gravity to his jumps, and wall-jumping in particular feels imprecise and more difficult than it should be. I think if the developer has spent just a little more time tightening up how Jack moves, it could have increased my enjoyment of this game by a significant margin. Alas.

So what else is left to say? I don’t know… To be honest, JackQuest is largely unmemorable. I’ve forgotten most of the fine details already, and have been left with little more than a foggy memory of being unimpressed. I think the boss fights were alright? There are about four bosses, and they do present a halfway decent challenge. Or at least the spider boss did, as I remember needing to retry it a few times before I defeated it. The rest are part of that foggy blur.

Of course, I would not recommend JackQuest. I spent four dollars on it, so sure, I got my money’s worth in gameplay. But it wasn’t an enjoyable experience. Just a middling plod through tropes, with nothing really special or unique to share. It isn’t a bad game, but with so many similar options available there’s really no reason to bother with JackQuest. Just pony up a few more dollars for Hollow Knight instead. It costs only slightly more and is a vastly better video game.

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