There are a lot of norms that have become more and more common with RPGs. These help to establish structure and guidance for how a game is built. These norms are usually built from years and years of tradition, as well as plenty of trial and error. It isn’t necessary to adhere to norms and tradition, as long as you have something good to replace it with. Jack Move goes against a lot of the typical conventions of traditional RPGs, but doesn’t provide much to replace them with.
The Role You Play
You play as a hacker named Noa Solares. All of her abilities and equipment are themed around hacking and computers. She can hack enemies with individual attacks. She can execute special commands which resemble magic. These can take on three different sub types: Electroware, Watware or Cyberware. She can also build up enough energy to perform the titular jack moves which are special attacks that do massive amounts of damage to all enemies.
Noa also has plenty of options in terms of customization. She can configure her deck to allow for different special commands, as well as upgrades to increase attributes or provide subsystems which resemble buffs at the beginning of battle.
Unlike what you might expect from a turn-based RPG of this nature, Noa is the only playable character in the game. You never get any other characters in your party and you never play as anyone else.
After completing one of their freelancing gigs, Noa receives a distress call completely out of the blue from her father. His house has been invaded by agents from Monomind in search of his research. Noa is conflicted over whether or not she should actually help him due to their parents falling out, as well as her not seeing him for several years. Noa eventually decides to heed her father’s distress call, but finds no sign of him. It is up to her to find out what her father is researtching and why Monomind wants it so badly.
Jack Move uses a rather straightforward turn-based combat system. You encounter enemies randomly as you walk throughout the world, with a danger indicator in the top-right corner of the screen indicating when an encounter is likely to happen. When in battle, Noa and all of the enemies their own turn in a queue and will take turns attacking or using abilities.
Outside of battle, there is the occassional puzzle to solve involving activating power switches, moving crates, and opening gates. It can be a bit frustrating to manage these puzzles while dealing with the frequency of the random encounters. Not only that, but there is no option to escape from battle, so battling is a pretty strict requirent.
There is an option called ‘buff overflow’ where you can automatically win a battle against enemies you’ve already beaten. However, having that option available takes all the challenge out of the combat and just makes the game even less fun.
There is not a lot of variety in terms of how you progress through the game. You are given a quest log that tells you where to go, you follow it to your destination, you complete your objective and you follow the steps over and over again. There are a few side quests here and there, but they are not easy to find and there is little to no incentive to complete them. Overall, the game takes about 6-7 hours to complete.
The soundtrack to Jack Move goes along well the futuristic cyberpunk setting. It has a lot of electronic melodies throughout the different tracks and each one fits in well with the different settings. While the songs can feel a bit interchangeable at times, they are still very good and do a lot to create a good atmosphere that really adds to the overall experience. They are also very atypical from what you would expect in a turn-based RPG and seem to have a lot of work put into them.
Jack Move manages to incorporate its cyberpunk aesthetic into nearly every aspect of the game. The battle screen has a retro-style virtual reality design to it. Not only are the main characters hackers, but a lot of the terminology in the game comes from computers and programming language. The design of the towns are all decorated with a lot of neon to match the cyberpunk look and feel. The end result is a world that is both atmospheric and very immersive.
The Talking Parts
There is not a lot of dialog in Jack Move, but when there is, it is well executed. The characters speak with exaggerated facial expressions in order to convey their emotions. Not only that, but they also move around the rooms they are in while talking in order to make each scene feel more lively. Characters will make use of the scenery and the space within it to really make the most of the space they inhabit. Characters will type on computers, pour drinks, smoke cigarettes, and each scenes feels like it is rehearsed and choreographed like a stageplay.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
One thing I have to give Jack move a lot of credit for is the excellent animation. The way that all of the characters move gives the game a real personal touch. That same feeling applies not only to the overworld, but also to the battle screen as well. It also extends to the multitude of attack animations, all of Noa’s special commands and Jack Moves, and all of the the special abilities used by the enemies.
Jack Move has a lot of amazing features to it. It has some great characters, designs and animation. Unfortunately, the game is not as good as the sum of its parts. It’s a bit too short, the gameplay is a bit monotonous and could have used a bit more variety. There is plenty to enjoy, especially for fans of cyberpunk RPGs, but it could have used just a little more.
Final Score: 7/10
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