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Jack Keane: The Fire Within the Review

Jack Keane: The Fire Within is the newest adventure game from Deck 13. It features being the continuation of a character’s life of adventure, but not a continuous story. Or maybe it does feature a continuous story. The overarching goal is to learn various fighting maneuvers… also, there’s something about an amulet fetch quest.jack_keane_2_the_fire_within-2256092

The Praise Within:

Let me start by saying that this is everything I could want in an adventure game. The main character is a sassy underdog. The supporting characters are varied and interesting. There references are neat and well-spaced. The story isn’t overly convoluted and serves more as a framework to allow interesting things to happen.

You play as Jack Keane and your entire goal can be summed up as to have an adventure. You have to go on a fetch quest to find pieces of an amulet that is a key to some ultimate treasure. At the same time you have learn different techniques to better defend yourself in an increasingly violent world. And while those two physical things are happening you have to guide Jack into being a generally better person through weird waking-dream events. It has the feel of being about something real because real things are complicated without any confusing twists and a lot of story-tellers could learn a thing or two from this game.sYEOo

I especially like the cerebral dream sequences. The developers really got to dig in let us explore the mind of someone who could be classified as a zany narcissist. And it doesn’t feel too forced; a lot of what happens makes sense and isn’t out of place. I would recommend this game just to experience the bits where you’re unconscious.

They also have rare occasions where you get to play as your supporting characters. Care was taken to make you feel like you’re actually playing a different person. You really get a good sense of the differences in their problem-solving steps and how they approach a challenge. Not only does it break up the monotony of playing as the wise-talker, it provides unique insights into how your companions will react, which is important for some of the puzzles later in the game when you have to start working with the team.gfs_323510_2_9

The Damnation Within:

Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of this game. I’ve been avoiding making any direct comparisons but this game has the definite feel of the Monkey Island series. It just might be me and my old ass but I feel like I’ve already played this game. I’ve already played as the undervalued scrawny guy who wants to be an adventurer. I’ve already had to woo the bad-ass action girl while dealing with the creepy guy who’s in charge.

On top of that, it’s fairly buggy game. I lost track of how many times my character stopped interacting with various random things and I had to save and reload to fix the problem. And, to the disappointment of all, I was not able to finish the game because I ran into a progress-breaking bug in which the quest info wouldn’t update and I was stuck at the next challenge. Even restarting the program didn’t help.

Finally, some of the solutions to the problems are quite esoteric and it got really annoying when there were more practical solutions just sitting there. In one instance I was sent off to learn how to fight by a guard who was keenly invested in my learning how to fight. I find a guy who’s willing to teach me but he won’t be able to without a book that the very guard who sent me is using to prop up a chair. The best solution, then, would be to tell the guard, who really wants me to learn how to fight, that I need the book, and maybe trade him some wood in my inventory. Nope, I have to figure out some way to steal the book. That’s not the only case, but that was the most annoying and I really really really felt like complaining.jack_keane_21_677x381

A recommendation for this game really depends on if you’ve played a lot of point-and-click adventure games before, especially any of the Monkey Island games. You might have already played this before and the story isn’t going to set the world on fire. But if you haven’t, I heartily recommend Jack Keane, if only for the type of experience you’ve been missing.

Final Score: 7/10

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