Keen on Keane
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.
Visually the game is quite engaging. The environments are all very detailed and do a good job of conjuring up an awesome sense of adventure. The caves, coves, towns, characters, and buildings are all fantastical in their imagining, and the exaggerated and vibrantly colored look of the title is very pleasing to the eye. Of course, solid graphics should be expected considering just how static the backgrounds really are. As a result, there isn’t a hint of frame rate issues. Nevertheless, computing rigs that just meet the recommended specifications will only be able to play the game on its lowest settings. It’s a bit unfortunate, but if your hardware falls into that category you are probably used to it by now.
There are no multiplayer or online features offered in the game. As such, there isn’t any replayability to be found in the title. Once you beat the game, you might as well just give it away. However, that shouldn’t deter you from picking it up. After all, the game plays and feels like a quality animated movie. Moreover, there are quite a few hours of fun to be had and it will still work out to be significantly less expensive than going to the cinema.
I enjoyed many aspects of the title, but I can’t help but reiterate that it’s not for everyone. There were many times when I nearly became incensed by the silly object-based puzzles. Typically, the puzzles are straightforward and quickly bested. However, there are a number of tasks that you will have to perform that either feel like superfluous busy work or simply make no sense whatsoever. These nonsensical puzzles are only completed after laboriously clicking around the same scene until you’ve exhausted all options. Lamentably, after finishing these tasks you probably won’t feel accomplished, but rather simply fed up! There were a number of times when I had to turn off the game after finishing a task because I was so disgusted and tired. Fortunately, these trying moments represent the exception to the rule and shouldn’t hinder your journey too often.
Jack Keane is a nice adventure that many should enjoy. Most likely, players will find themselves having a love-hate relationship with the title, but ultimately they will be delighted by its varied charms. The presentation of the title is very well done and effectively communicates the feel and adventure of the Victorian era. If you enjoy the point-and-click adventures of years past and have several hours to burn, then Jack Keane is a nice gaming option. It could be the perfect title if you plan on taking a long trip this summer to an exotic locale.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.8 Graphics
The environments are very detailed and conjure up an awesome sense of adventure. 4.0 Control
You can’t get much easier than point-and-click, though it does get a bit dull after awhile. 3.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The wide array of voice acting talent helps bring the adventure to life. Unfortunately, sometimes the line delivery is pretty poor, especially from the American actors. 3.2 Play Value
The story is very amusing and full of brain teasing puzzles. Sadly, the pacing is quite slow and will turn off gamers who are not patient. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.