Developed by NX Games, JackQuest: The Tale of The Sword, it’s their first title to be released on Steam. The PC version is published by Crescent Moon Games, which has a very interesting Indie catalog, while the console versions are handled by Blow Fish Studios.
All the greatest classic video games start with the most epic stories; a princess in distress, a maiden kidnaped by a monster, or any identical plot that moves our hearts to rescue such beloved character. Truth is, with such reminiscences of such adventures of our past, JackQuest: The Tale of The Sword couldn’t approach a more traditional story.
Players take the role of young Jack, who just has one thing on his mind; confess his love to Nara, a young and beautiful girl that is sitting right there, facing him across the small fire lighting up the forest. The moment is perfect, the stars shine in the dark skies and his words are actually coming out with courage. Until out of nowhere, Nara is kidnaped by the evil Orc Korg, a gigantic beast of debasement and debauchery! Poor Nara, what could such a depraved Orc want with her? Thankfully, he just imprisons her inside a cage in his underground base!
Jack goes straight into the unknown to save the love of his life, unprepared, unskilled, and unarmoured, nothing really matters when Nara is in trouble. Once inside, our young hero will come across a very peculiar weapon, a speaking sword, named Kuro. What other strange occurrences will this underground lair hide in its depths? Jack and Kuro become one, to find together, what lies beneath. So it begins, our simple and cute adventure, one we’re very familiar with, and likely, none of us will ever grow tired of!
JackQuest: The Tale of The Sword is a metroidvania-inspired action platformer, with fast paced movements in a mix of jumping and slashing. Players go through an underground cave with several layers mixed with some closed areas, and others waiting to be unlocked. It’s the perfect beginner's game for those who want to try something metroidvania, but don’t want to jump straight into a more hardcore title such the likes of Hollow Knight.
As players progress down the tunnels, platforming is essential, and some traps awaits them, with some clever placement spikes, poisonous waters, and long unpredicted downfalls. Cute but deadly monsters are present of course, such as sloppy slimes, chubby bees, colorful spiders, and a few very mean Orcs, just awaiting the perfect time to attack! Shortcuts can be unlocked to make the backtracking easier even though the level structure is relatively small, although very well designed.
At each specific point in the map, players will come across a few boss’s, with unique features that engages players to try something new in order to defeat them. Doesn't matter if it is a huge slime, or a very large and hungry spider, boss’s are all very fun and interesting to fight. Jack will use his sword Kuro, but there’s also a very useful bow that can be found to help out in the adventure. Both weapons have normal and special attacks, which can be used by collecting special crystals scattered across the underground!
Players collect coins stored in crates and by killing monsters. This in-game currency can be used to purchase health potions to restore life, crystals to restore the special weapon abilities, and torches that gives the ability to save the game at any point on the map. Regular save-points are placed throughout the area, in specific spots either right next to a merchant or before a boss room, which is quite convenient.
Players can unlock extra lives by finding secret hearts, usually hidden in unseen areas of the map, to extend Jack’s health. The same can be done for crystals, to further add more consecutive special strikes to your weapon of choice. To increase the fun to this adventure, some power ups are available, such as double jump, or breathing underwater! These abilities are required to progress in the game, but also become handy when backtracking to discover new areas.
Visually, JackQuest is a beautiful 2D pixel art inspired by many of the classics, but with a very unique identity. What could have been a dull and uninspired dungeon complex, it’s in truth, a very pleasant complex of caves with bright details such as vegetations, moss, several layers of cave rocks, colorful traps, refreshing waterfalls, lagoons, hanging roots, and some precise diversity that extends its style, but maintaining the same visual spirit.
Although JackQuest: The Tale of The Sword is a fun and entertaining game, there are some minor issues regarding hitboxes. I personally noticed some inconsistency, and although it doesn’t affect the flow of the gameplay, it might be an issue that needs fixing. Some Steam users reported control movement to be a way too fast, and the developers agree to release an update. I personally believe this is supposed to be a fast paced action game, and the fluidity of the movement does not affect me personally. Either way, it seems there will be continued support for the game, which is fantastic.
Technically, there aren’t many options available, except for Windowed or Full Screen mode. Music and sound can be toggled On or Off, and Vsync is active by default. To recover from this disparity, there’s a considerable amount of languages supported besides English, such as Portuguese, French, and Italian.
Across this adventure, the soundtrack will always loop the same track continuously, which consists of a very pretty melody, with phases of smooth suspense and high pitch epicness. With a neo-classical wave, and a violin line that’s rare to hear nowadays, this unique track suit perfectly within this adventure. Boss areas have a dedicated song, using the same instrumental vibe, but in a much less progressive rhythm, replacing a faster and heavier beat. As for every other sound effect, it’s what one would expect of a top-tier Indie game!
JackQuest: The Tale of The Sword is a great little game suited perfectly for anyone looking for a casual metroidvania-inspired platformer. With a simple story and cute enemies to slash, this 4 hour adventure will without a doubt be a surprise!