Jack Keane PC DVD
Published by: 10Tacle Studios
Developed by: Deck 13
Release Date: 7th March 2008
Jack Keane is the latest point and click adventure from Deck 13, developers of the Ankh adventure games. The game is set in the early stages of colonialism and will have you venturing to various locations. Like Ankh, the game is a point and click adventure game that's reminiscent of the classic LucasArts adventure games. There's a decent amount of humour here and it's a game where the characters don't take themselves too seriously.
You'll play as the titular Jack Keane, as well as a woman who Jack encounters fairly early in the game named Amanda. Jack rather fancies himself as an adventurer and captains the rather dilapidated merchant ship, the Charming Princess. The game begins in London with Jack being held prisoner in Big Ben. Jack is tied to a chair and is about to be beaten to a pulp by some thugs who have been hired to sort him out because he's neglected to pay off a long-standing debt. With your help he'll manage to escape the predicament and make his way to his ship where he'll be offered the chance to earn a small fortune. All he needs to do is collect a British agent from Cape Town and take them to a secret location known as Tooth Island. With Jack eager to escape his pursuers, he readily accepts the offer.
If that seems pretty straightforward, you won't be surprised to find that things don't turn out as planned. Jack arrives in Cape Town and collects the Agent, a rather snooty gent by the name of Montgomery, as well as the mysterious Amanda. They arrive at Tooth Island only to hit the rocks on the coast and wreck the ship. To add insult to injury Amanda makes off with Jack's two crew members in a rowboat leaving him with Montgomery, the agent who thinks of everything and does nothing. To make matters worse, Tooth Island is ruled by Dr. T who is cultivating man-eating plants and plotting to bring about the end of the British Empire. So what started as a mere transport job turns into a personal quest as Jack learns more about Tooth Island and his own connections to it.
Whilst Jack Keane is, in many ways, a traditional adventure game it does have some surprises. This has to be the first adventure game that we've come across with unlockable extras. Several levels have special items or tasks, such as collecting starfish or stacking tea caddies, that you don't necessarily have to collect or perform to complete the game but if you do you'll obtains some bonus items. You can visit a waxworks containing characters you meet in the game and interact with them and there is even an historical mode. It’s a nice touch for those very thorough adventure gamers who like to find everything there is to find. Another nifty addition is the use of the ‘X’ key to highlight all items onscreen that can be interacted with, removing the dreaded pixel hunt which has been a problem for some adventure games.
Jack Keane’s character resembles many superb adventure gaming heroes, such as Guybrush Threepwood (Monkey Island), Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and Joe King (Flight of the Amazon Queen). What made these characters so enjoyable was their personality, the witty dialogue with real laugh out loud moments and times where we saw the characters’ weaknesses. There is even a time later on in the game where you control a nude Jack with only his hands providing any form of coverage for his manly assets. Deck 13 has produced a quality well paced story which is great fun and holds your interest with its twisting and turning plot. Perhaps more importantly, Deck 13 have given adventure gamers a new hero: Jack Keane.
Many of the puzzles you’ll come across are the familiar inventory based combining puzzles or using an item at the right moment. You can obtain someone’s help by choosing the right dialogue path. The puzzles aren’t too challenging and the characters will give you a hint when you’re on the right track. Amanda’s inventory contains a gun and if there is any criticism to be made it’s that she does overuse this to solve her puzzles.
Deck 13 decided to use the same 3D game engine for Jack Keane that they had used for Ankh. That's not to say the graphics aren't an improvement on those found in Ankh. The two games definitely have things in common however. Jack Keane has the same brightly coloured palette that Ankh had and it's very similar in terms of its interface. Those of you who have played a point and click adventure game before will instantly feel at home with the game. Some of the animations could have been smoother (the characters do look awkward when walking up stairs for instance) but for the most part the game is pleasing on the eyes.
Jack Keane is subtitled and the subtitles are pretty much what you would expect from a traditional point and click adventure game. The subtitles don't have any character portraits or names placed alongside the dialogue but they are colour-coded, so you'll know who is saying what. Thankfully there are no audio challenges in the game. Of course deaf gamers won't be aware of one of the worst aspects of the game, the voice acting, which is dreadful at times. Deaf gamers will also miss out on some of the humour. An example of this is when Jack tells the shopkeeper in Cape Town 'I'll be back' with an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent. Of course there's nothing to indicate this to deaf gamers. On the whole though, Jack Keane appears to be fine for deaf gamers.
Whilst point and click adventure games still continue to be released on a fairly regular basis, there are very few that you could describe as humorous. Many adventure gamers look back on the golden age of LucasArts and remember fondly series such as Monkey Island (particularly the first two games in the series, which were far superior to the later games). Few developers have attempted to recreate this light-hearted sense of humour. Deck 13 proved with Ankh that adventure games can still be fun. Jack Keane is a game that builds upon the humour that Ankh had and all things considered is a more enjoyable experience and a better all-round game. Those who long for an adventure game that doesn’t become bogged down with tedious puzzles or take itself too seriously should definitely give Jack Keane a look. Although it’s not perfect, it’s definitely one of the more enjoyable adventure games I’ve played over the last few years.