|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: 10tacle Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Strategy First||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 15, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Jack Keane is a point-and-click adventure fashioned from such classic series as Myst and Monkey Island. The game uses brain-teasing puzzles, a Victorian backdrop, cartoonish presentation, and a lot of humor to engage players in the wild adventure. The visuals, sounds, and controls are all very well executed, which makes the game accessible for any level of gaming ability. A couple major drawbacks are the very slow pacing of the adventure and the often nonsensical puzzle solutions. Fortunately, the funny story and light-hearted presentation are solid enough that the game is a nice choice if you're looking for a straightforward diversion.
Jack Keane is the ignominious captain of the not-quite-famous Charming Princess. Captain Keane most readily resembles Bruce Campbell's character, Ash, in the Evil Dead series. Correspondingly, Jack is both boisterous and bumbling yet somehow heroic. In the beginning of the game you will be asked by Her Royal Majesty's agents to get to Cape Town, South Africa in order to help unravel a great mystery; something is literally eating up all of the tea reserves. How can this tragedy be averted? For starters, find a lowly sea captain desperate for fame and fortune. That's where Jack comes in! Jack is seen by the movers and shakers of the English Empire as expendable. As such, Jack is the perfect mariner to take on the evil Dr. T and his dastardly machinations. After arriving in Cape Town, players are introduced to the rest of the cast of characters, and the adventure really begins.
Jack Keane and Amanda are controlled by the classic point-and-click mechanic of gaming's past. Careful observation of your surroundings will reveal useful tools, objects, and persons that will help you find the right path. Often, objects by themselves are useless unless combined in a specific way. That means you will spend a lot of time, especially in the beginning of the game, fumbling around and wasting time. Fortunately, after a while you will start to get the hang of what's useful and in what way things should be used. Once you get the rhythm down, you'll be able to advance much more quickly through the title. Even still, often the most time consuming puzzle is simply figuring out what the various objects you encounter are good for. This can get frustrating, and I don't expect this game to resonate with console-centric gamers. This is an adventure game for PC gamers that enjoy listening to dialogue and picking up on subtle nuances.
One thing's for sure, there is a lot of humor that gamers of all ages will enjoy. The Victorian backdrop is not only an interesting era rife with adventure, but it also serves as an allegory for contemporary issues. For example, Americans are seen as having itchy trigger fingers; of course, it is a German developer. Not every joke is politically motivated, however. Very early on in the game you will meet an adventurer / businessman who is down on his luck. By inquiring about his predicament you'll learn that he has given a complete stranger his boat in an attempt to have a large sum of funds released from the bank account of a deceased relative somewhere in deepest Africa. Of course this tale hearkens to the phishing internet scams that plagued the turn of the millennium. Humorous bits and pieces like this are strewn throughout the title providing for a good deal of comic relief. The liberal use of such anecdotes makes the game quite enjoyable, but if you're looking for particularly witty comedy then you'll be disappointed. The game tries its best to be Monkey Island reincarnated, but it doesn't come close to matching that series' ribaldry.
The voice over work, for the most part, is very good. The cast of voice actors portray their characters quite well. The English and Indian accented voice actors deliver their lines fluidly and with just the right intonation and emphasis. Unfortunately, the American actors can't quite match their skills. Nowhere is this more apparent then in Amanda's voice (she's cast as Jack's love interest, etc.). Dialogue between her and the other characters is, at best, painful to listen to. Graciously, Jack's voice actor is decidedly better, but he too has an American accent. This sticks out in the mind like a sore thumb, especially considering the fact that Jack Keane is supposed to be a salty English mariner from South London. Other than the voice over work, there really isn't mush else to the game as far as sounds go. Consequently, you won't be pestered by repetitive musical themes.