22 June 2024

Pumpkin Jack is the solo project of the French developer Nicolas Meyssonnier, a title inspired by games such as Medievel and Jack and Daxter, which had the support of Headeup Studios as publisher and thus made this title reachable to more platforms. It’s easily one of the best Indie platform games this year.

Right from the start, this title changes around what you would expect, since the players wear the skin of Jack, a charismatic villain who plays the role of the devil’s servant and whose soul was placed in a pumpkin. Accompanied by a rather fearful and chatty crow and an owl as a guide, players will have to cross different levels to reach their main objective.

The story is set in the Boredom Kingdom, which even made the Devil super enraged because nothing was going on around that place. Thirsty for turbulence and something more merciless, he decided to launch the terrible Curse of Eternal Night on earth. In their attempt to retaliate, humans summoned a powerful, albeit somewhat dubious, wizard to save them.

This is how Jack appears in the middle of this succession of events after the Devil himself has invoked him and tasked with disrupting the plans of the champion of humanity

The adventure unfolds through 6 different levels filled with platforms, puzzles, mini games, and lots of action to the mix. The whole world of this peculiar title literally jumps off the screen with its palette of psychedelic colors combined with the effects and lighting very well achieved. Always with the side of a world full of accessories alluding to Halloween, that is, crows, cemeteries and green and shiny cauldrons.

The enemies, in this case, are also beings from the other world, but why do they attack Jack? Well, all monsters attack when they feel a human and Jack still has something human inside him, even though he no longer has a human body, his soul is still present.

Mechanically, each level is divided between platforms, combat, and a slope that puts the player in a running position, where it is necessary to avoid obstacles or reach the finish line in the first place. The whole action is very fluid and Jack has the possibility to use a double jump, a dash ability, and one of 6 different weapons. These weapons are distinguished between melee and ranged attack, although the firearms cannot reach an enemy from a great distance. Each of them has a simple combo, where it is only necessary to continue pressing the button and an area attack where it is necessary to use the double jump and the attack button. Simple but effective.

Although combat is not the main attraction of this adventure, it reveals a very pleasant Medievel vibe, but somehow superficial. It is really necessary to hit a lot of enemies until they are destroyed, but Jack is also capable of taking a lot of damage before losing his entire life bar. There is not a wide variety of enemies, but the confrontation against the “Bosses” manages to make the delights of the more attentive eyes, due to their attention to detail. The attack patterns are quite easy to memorize, so there is no great difficulty in these end-of-chapter fights.

In a game where there are immense platforms and chasms, where poorly measured jumps often equate to instantaneous deaths, Pumpkin Jack does not leave a feeling of frustration, as there are plenty of “save” points during the level, which by the way is still a long journey.

This is undoubtedly a fun and a nostalgic title that is perfectly set to be this year’s Halloween gaming session. Although it does not revolutionize the wheel within the genre it is highly recommended for any fan of 3D platforming adventures and the fact that it is the work of just one person, makes this whole experience even more impressive. Mr. Pumpkin Jack deserves particular attention. Unfortunately, it does not have a “photography” mode, but how interesting would it be? I leave the question and the mark of the 50 screenshots I took over the almost 6 hours of fun.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PC, provided by Headup.]

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