Friday, October 9, 2020

Game 41: Jack in the Dark

Name:Jack in the Dark
Genre:Survival Horror
Time:1 hour

In-between Alone in the Dark games, Infogrames took the time to make a short prelude for 2. One might call it a playable teaser, years before that was cool and now people are just making those to make those. I don't understand why this was needed, perhaps this was awkward to shoe-horn into 2. You play as Grace Saunders, a child without adult supervision on Halloween...I think. That's what the game says, so it must be true. Right away, its not exactly clear what you're supposed to do. Going into detail about what you have to do is sort of like telling you what to do.

Jack is an adventure game pure and simple. Sure, you run away from a few enemies, but does that make King's Quest survival horror? Gobliiins? Moreso than AitD this game is nothing but puzzles. All of which are explained in-game. In fact, only explained in-game. When the game didn't bother telling me how to actually finish off a puzzle, I was thrown for a loop. I'm not too proud to admit I looked it up. I'm not kidding that everything else is explained in-game. There's a book that except for two puzzles, explains everything you have to do in this game. The other two parts are the part I'm talking about and putting a coin in an old-fashioned candy machine. Not exactly wrong to think something was wrong with the game.
Ultimately, it feels hollow. If you've read the plot summary of AitD 2, you can probably figure out how it ends. Halfway through the game, the real plot begins, with the discovery that you have to free Santa Claus. I kid ye not. You don't even win if you win. Grace gets captured off-screen for some reason, and Santa's still locked up. As neat as this was, I have to question handling it like this.
None. 0/10

Even moreso than the original, these enemies are exclusively puzzle enemies. There wasn't much to it. 1/10

They just exist to take items, effectively making them non-existent. 0/10

Just one. A fine room, but nonetheless, a short and small one. A lot of the puzzles were...simple. 3/10

Player Agency:
Just like the first, with all the weird quirks of movement, weird double-tapping to run, entering the menu to use items/search. However, the spacebar does nothing, and curiously makes the game feel awkward for a few moments. 5/10, same as before.

This was basically Alone in the Dark as a pure adventure game. Still needed an examine function. 6/10

Despite the supposed Halloween theme, this feels more like a Christmas/Halloween combo. I like that. Your mileage may vary. 7/10

Still very top-notch backgrounds and the 3d models seem to be rapidly improving. They're not really good models, but hey, its 1993 and its free, what do you want? 7/10

Its a prelude to Alone in the Dark 2. Now, I just checked a walkthrough to see if Father Christmas or Santa Calus comes up anywhere in that game. His presence here is pointless. That would have meant something here. The plot might as well have been Grace trying to get out of the store. 1/10

Unfortunately, there wasn't much to this. There's only one music track and it was...there. Most of the sounds are and sudden jumps the first time you hear them and nothing afterward. Then there's the drum item which goes constantly as long as you have it equipped. Half my playing time was with that item. 2/10

That brings it to a total of 32. Putting it 21 points below the original. Probably because its an adventure game, and quite probably the shortest game I've played that could actually be finished. It'll be interesting to see if another game beats that. If you liked Alone in the Dark, I see no reason to not play this. If you didn't, I see no reason to play this. Its competent and a fun way to spend a little time.

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