Review by Braben

"Another wannabe pirate arrives at the port. Does he have what it takes?"

Clearly inspired by Monkey Island in more ways than one, Jack Keane is a very enjoyable and well made old school graphic adventure that quickly grows on you if you give it the time it deserves. Do it and I can guarantee it has a lot more to offer than its uninspired and rather childish look would initially indicate.

Plot:
The story has all the ingredients of a typical pirate adventure. A main protagonist that is half Indiana Jones half Jack Sparrow, a trigger happy hottie, an evil mastermind with two dimwitted thugs, ancient heirlooms, mysterious pasts, strange islands and… you get the drill. Thankfully there`s also an army of semi-intelligent apes and genetically altered carnivorous plants and even though the plot never really takes full advantage of any of these elements you are constantly moving from one exotic location to another, which keeps things interesting from beginning to end.

Another thing that I was not expecting at all was the humor to actually work. It`s not a laugh riot mind you, but it doesn`t feel contrived, there is a good deal of clever dialogue exchanges, two or three very funny movie references and it`s certainly not stupid, an usual and highly annoying flaw in several allegedly comedic adventures. I also found the characters easier to swallow and sometimes even charismatic, probably due to the more cartooney style, an excellent idea in my book.

Graphics:
The game has been entirely created in very colourful but extremely derivative 3D so expect rough edges, low resolution backgrounds, some very ugly sprites and more. Nothing really important for a graphic adventure though, and the characters fare much better with nice facial expressions, gestures and poses, all of which is more important if you ask me.

Music:
Typical adventure music plus a bunch of comical themes, nothing worth mentioning save for the music played through the second and eleventh chapters which is really, really good. The voices are very good as well, even the Spanish ones (in fact I actually like the Spanish dub better for a change) although the lip and gesture synchronization can be downright atrocious if your PC is not powerful enough to run the game smoothly.

Gameplay:
Jack Keane is a very traditional third person graphic adventure set in colonial times (more or less) and divided in thirteen chapters. The controls are kind of confusing at first as the left button is used to examine and collect items and the right one use manipulate, talk and also pick things up. If you want to use any of your items you have to do it with the right button as well, exactly the opposite of pretty much every single graphic adventure ever made. It`s ok after the first five minutes but, why change it anyway?

Whatever, unless you have never played a graphic adventure before you`ll have no problem with the interface or any of the simple riddles and obstacles despite how incoherent some of them can be, plus certain situations can be solved using different items and actions depending on the objects you acquired or missed in the previous chapters so don`t worry if you have to choose between a set number of items, regardless of your choice you`ll always have all the necessary equipment to keep going. Just make sure to speak with everyone several times until you exhaust all the possibilities, some things need to be asked in order and/or only advance the plot once you talk about them.

Scattered through the game you will also find secret items. These objects are not necessary to complete the adventure but you can unlock bonus features if you find and/or use them in the right situation. Extra content includes a completely pointless ``wax`` museum where you can see (and listen to) a model of each character in the adventure for no reason, and the possibility to replay the entire game with sepia tones. The latter is a very good idea no doubt about it, the only problem is that this is not a game that begs to be replayed (it`s quite long, but more on that later) and some of the special items and tasks you are required to do in order to unlock what needs to be unlocked is pretty hard to pull off without using a guide. The developers deserve props for trying anyway, it`s not very often that you find graphic adventures putting emphasis on replay value.

Although at first the short length of the chapters make you think this is only going to last a couple of hours at best, most of them they get progressively longer and just when you though everything was over something unexpected happens and the story continues. So, despite the low difficulty, in the end this is a pretty long adventure, you`ll definitely not be asking for more once it`s over.

Overall:
Sometimes it is a good idea to approach things expecting the worst, I mean, it is not that I wanted it to be a catastrophe, but it is undeniable that it looks like every other graphic adventure ever made involving pirates, that is what I (rather unenthusiastically I have to admit) was expecting and even though that is exactly what it is I would be lying if I say that I didn`t had a great time with it. Nothing about it stands out but it`s a solid, well put together and nicely paced title that`s definitely worth your time if you dig the genre.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/07/10

Game Release: Jack Keane (US, 04/15/08)


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