Not long after Lucasarts stopped releasing adventure games in the 90s, people proclaimed the genre to be dead. However, recent years have shown that the genre, especially in episodic form, can still be extremely successful and have even made the jump to consoles. It’s still very much a PC staple, with many new games and franchises popping up over the past 10 years. Jack Keane was one of those games when it came out in 2008, and it was a pleasant surprise with its humorous writing, attractive visuals and accessible gameplay that was instantly familiar to fans of the genre. Now, Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within has been released – how does it stack up again the original game and the many other recent adventure titles?
Over 5 years have passed since the original Jack Keane, so it’s only logical to wonder what strides have been made when firing up its sequel. It won’t take long after that to realize that everything feels very familiar – almost too familiar at times. Jack Keane’s fresh visual style seems to have has lost some of its shine, perhaps also because the locations you visit this time around aren’t as vibrant and colorful. A familiar experience can however still be a good one, so long as the overall feel for the game is consistent with the original – a competent and entertaining adventure romp. And in that sense, Jack Keane 2 succeeds – it feels like more of the same and I had fun playing through his second adventure even though it felt quite a bit shorter than the first one did. The plot revolves around the search for a long-lost treasure in exotic locales, love interests and villains – the stuff that many good adventure stories revolve around.
I couldn’t help but feel like Deck 13 missed some opportunities while developing the game though, as despite the 5 years between the two games it feels like corners have been cut. On the technical side Jack Keane 2 doesn’t raise the bar on the previous game, and as the years have gone on it’s more evident where some of the flaws lie. The shading effects aren’t always correct, and the lip-syncing can be pretty awful. This might have something to do with the original game being done in German, but when you see so many other games get this right it’s a flaw that’s hard to forgive. The writing also feels lazy at times, with story elements that aren’t as fleshed out as you’d like and clues and puzzles that are too simplistic to generate any kind of satisfaction upon progressing past them beyond furthering the storyline. Awkward camera angles sometimes frustrate as well, and it’s unfortunate that a lot of these issues could have been remedied because beneath all this Jack Keane 2 does manage to entertain you.
If you enjoyed the original game, or are interested in an accessible adventure game that plays out with quite a bit of cinematic flair through the use of action-packed sequences, then look into Jack Keane 2. Developer Deck 13 might not have unleashed their full potential here, but it’s a competent adventure game nonetheless.
CPU: Intel 3770K
Video: Asus GTX 660 Ti
Installed on: Kingston HyperX SSD drive
RAM: 8 GB DDR 3, Kingston HyperX Beast series