Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within
First posted on 15 May 2015. Last updated on 15 May 2015.
Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within (also known as Jack Keane and the Fire Within) is a colorful adventure game inspired by the likes of Monkey Island and Broken Sword series. Developed by Deck13 Interactive, the game has slick production values, including impressive 3D rendered graphics and animations, a cinematic aesthetic, and plenty of funny dialogs. While some adventure game fans may not enjoy the timed combat and occasionally awkward jumping sequences, all fans of the genre will find much to like about this game.
As the game's title implies, this is the sequel to the original Jack Keane released by the same developer in 2007. It picks up 3 years after the events in that game and starts off with the titular character—a roguish goofball named Jack—locked up in a Shanghai prison. Jack's cellmate is a wise but eccentric shaman who tells him about a mysterious treasure but dies before he can reveal the location. However, Jack is given a piece of an amulet and told that he will be able to find the treasure if he can find the other pieces. After escaping from the prison, Jack travels the world (and even inside his own mind) in search of the missing pieces. He is accompanied by the beautiful and capable Amanda, whose precise aim with her rifle comes in handy when Jack gets himself into a few sticky situations. Later, he also meets a clever engineer named Karl and a brunette beauty named Eve as well as a gorilla chef who specializes in banana dishes.
The game features a number of innovations from the familiar point-and-click mechanic. Perhaps the most radical are the timed combat sequences, loosely inspired by the famous "insult swordfighting" in the Monkey Island series. Instead of trading barbs, players must learn and select the appropriate attack or counterattack from a menu during each round. Choosing the right move requires carefully studying the movements of Jack's opponents and applying with the correct response. The moves have names like Steel Scarecrow and Scorpion Sting, which hint at their application. However, in a few cases, Jack will need to learn new moves to overcome an enemy—or find a way to cheat. While the fighting sequences are fast paced, there are only a few moves to learn, so most players will not have much trouble. If Jack loses, the game will let players try again immediately.
The game also features a romantic story. At several points, Jack will have to choose between actions that please either Amanda or Eve. The wildly different personalities of these love interests make these choices quite fun. Amanda is the stereotypical Texan gal—a direct, capable woman who does not mind getting her hands dirty. Eve is a stark contrast—a city girl whose worst nightmare is appearing in public without her makeup. However, both women have important roles to play in the game.
The final innovation is a number of platforming sequences, all controlled exclusively by the mouse. In most cases, it is easy to recognize the platforms that Jack needs to jump upon. However, there are also situations where Jack cannot jump on a platform or over a small obstacle. The game does not make it easy to recognize the correct paths for Jack. While these action sequences are generally easy to master, they do not add much to the gameplay.
The puzzles in the game are mostly solved by finding and combining objects, such as improvising a torch using a sponge, pomade, and a club. My favorite puzzle has Jack setting a trap using a bowl, water, and some stinky clothes. Most of the puzzle solutions make sense, though a few puzzles are solved simply by trial and error until players stumble upon the right answer.
I am most impressed by the game's graphics, music, and voice acting. The art direction is bright and colorful, with a cartoonish look that complements the humor and lightheartedness of the game. The game's soundtrack is superb as well that even fits for a movie. The voice acting is well executed; the actors seem aware of the context of the dialogs of their characters and deliver them with the appropriate tone and emphasis.
The game is surprisingly long. It takes about 9 hours to finish the game. Furthermore, players can replay the game to explore the different romantic options.
All in all, Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within is an excellent sequel to the original Jack Keane and a great game for fans of point-and-click adventures. While the combat and jumping sequences may be distracting, the witty dialogs, colorful graphics, and fun puzzles are more than enough reasons to recommend it.