JackQuest: The Tale of the Sword (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)

One day, Jack and his girlfriend are sitting under a tree when all of a sudden, a giant green hand comes out from the earth, grabs Jack’s lady, and takes her underground.  Jack hops into the hole to rescue her and discovers a maze of caves and monsters.  But luckily he also finds a giant sword that can talk, so now he must explore the caverns and dispatch monsters to save his sweetheart.  JackQuest: The Tale of the Sword is a 2-D 16-bit style platformer with exploration elements similar to Metroid.  It’s available for nearly all current game consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Jack can run, jump, climb walls like Mega Man X, and once he finds it, he can swing his sword to defeat enemies.  Collect potions to heal your heart meter when you get hit, and gems will fill up a special move meter that lets you swing your sword in a circle but it’ll cost you one gem.  The cave you explore is one sprawling maze, and has giant monster bosses to fight, save stones for recording your progress, shops to buy items with coins you collect from beating baddies, and hidden items and secrets to find.  Along the way you’ll find items that’ll help you progress further, like boots that’ll let you double jump, and others that will let you swim and more.

JackQuest does have a few problems that kept me from getting into it.  You explore just one big cave and nothing else, so the environment doesn’t change so it’s hard to tell where you should be going and where you need to backtrack to.  And the map system isn’t very good either.  Worst of all, if you pass by a save stone while low on health and then die later, you’ll start back at the same place with low health, making it very hard to progress.  And the game is pretty tough to begin with.  Just goes to show you that not every “Metroidvania” game is good.  I will say the play control is spot on at least.

Kid Factor:

JackQuest: The Tale of the Sword is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Fantasy Violence.  You swing a giant sword at monsters that explode when defeated, but that’s it.  When you lose all your hearts, you just fall over.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, and younger players may get frustrated at the high difficulty.

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