The one-man developer “team” NX Games from Brazil brings out JackQuest, a 2D platformer with some very cute pixel art. I’m always kinda proud, regardless if the game is good or bad, to see an Xbox game that comes from a small team. I so hardly appreciate the hard work and time that goes into such a monumental project. We have been spoiled on Xbox with some astonishing platformers like Ori and the Blind Forest, Cuphead or Celeste. So can this Tale of the Sword game be listed in our fantastic platforming games list? Find out in this review for JackQuest.
- Cute pixel art: You either love or hate this kind of visuals but this nostalgic trip really warms my gaming heart. The atmospheric backgrounds may be a little flavorless but Jack looks really great, and so does the large area. Small details like flowers or Jack’s scarf give the game personality and recognition.
- A fun light Metroidvania gameplay: Despite the fact that the game has some clear flaws I still had a fun time platforming around the huge area. You could say that it is a linear game with multiple paths, sometimes your confused and lost but developer NX Games kept the game fun to play with an easy to understand combat-system and some well-designed platforming moments. The game has some bad luck to be in a genre that is so overpopulated with gems (Owlboy or Celeste) but the four-to-five hour experience was decent enough to leave a positive opinion.
- Orientation: Moving around the big area can become a little confusing, even with the sphere (that works as a map) that you unlock later. Using the map just isn’t user-friendly and it all comes down to you remembering how to go and backtracking to find secrets.
- Story: I kinda had it with the typical “someone kidnaps a girl that you like and you need to get her back from bad guy” JackQuest is the millionth game that uses this story concept and adds nothing original to it. Your talking sword, named Kuro sometimes speaks to you in speech bubbles, with complete nonsense. Same as the rare NPC’s that you discover while playing, I still don’t get why you find the same NPC in the map that tells you ‘nice pair of boots!” Dialogue is weird but I guess it gives the player some purpose, why else would you defeat all those enemies and try to survive all the environmental hazards.
- Hitboxes: I’m fairly sure that your character Jack has some invisible body parts because I got hit or killed multiple times by something that was literally two feet away from me. Utterly frustrating! Luckily for the game, enough checkpoints are to be found but it still remains baffling to have such terrible hitboxes.
- Imprecise controls: The momentum of your jump is like an Elephant trying to jump on a one-wheeled-bicycle. Platforming is okayish but the tank jump controls and the weird camera angle for looking down makes it a little hard to suggest. About that camera, you have to walk to an edge and the camera will very slowly start to move downwards so you can see what lies below you. (Well, that was the idea – most of the times it doesn’t go low enough) Honestly, a mechanic that I just didn’t like, it slows down the gameplay and just hardly ever works properly.
JackQuest: Tale of the Sword | Score: 62%
JackQuest won’t be on any list for best platforming game but the most important thing is that regardless of some flaws, the game is still a fun experience to play. The lovely visuals go hand in hand with some good level design.
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