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OPN Preview: Jengo

Jengo, the point-and-click adventure currently being developed by Robot Wizard, is a rather fantastical beast. Its elaborate and irreverent art style immediately causes it to stand out in the crowded indie segment, as does its serious lack of seriousness. Co-developers Louis DuPisani and Graeme Selvan make it abundantly clear from the get-go, both in the demo and on their Fig campaign page, that Jengo is not your average point-and-click title. Not by a long shot. A very long shot.

HOLDS NO PUNCHES

While the preview gameplay is completely as promised, (point at something with your mouse, click it, and something happens) the writing is a bit of a punch to the gut if you aren’t already prepared. Meet Jeff, the dissatisfied gamer whom you’ll be playing as throughout Jengo. Your first introduction to Jeff’s world is through exploration of a video game store — a store which serves as a mocking metaphorical representation of the industry in its current state. Jengo doesn’t hold any punches, and lashes out at a variety of aspects of today’s popular titles and trends.

Fortunately, these jokes stick their landing, and will likely make most gamers sheepishly (or enthusiastically) smile and nod. However, taking a swing at today’s gaming industry as the primary plot for your own game can feel a little heavy-handed, if it’s done poorly. Jeff’s story starts with him being unhappy with modern titles, and he finds himself trapped in the virtual world of an antique Jengo video game when he goes hunting for a proper old-school game in a shady curiosity shop.

DEFINITELY NOT FOR THE KIDS

Once trapped, Jeff is left to explore the virtual world of Jengo’s… Jengo, which seems to have its own share of troubles. He finds himself at Old Meta, a desert town home to a sleazy bar and a giant crack in the sky. The Fig campaign page states that Jeff will ultimately face off against “an army of Faceless” to prevent an Apocalypse, but the preview doesn’t get you much further than a simple tour through Old Meta’s bar and a couple of other locations.

The writing immediately takes a dip into adult territory when you enter the bar, and can be reasonably expected to stay there for the duration of the title, once finished. The characters are extremely memorable, but don’t expect them to speak with any political correctness or subtlety. If you prefer your gaming to leave out pervasive sexuality and inanity, Jengo isn’t going to be the point-and-click for you.

SIMPLE GAMEPLAY LEAVES ROOM FOR FAILURE

Thus far, Jengo’s art is wholly absorbing. It’s hard not to appreciate the love that obviously goes into all of the mini cutscenes and character designs. The gameplay, on the other hand, is as simple as point-and-clicks get. There aren’t any industry revolutionizing mechanics offered and, as far as I’m aware, none that are promised. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does call into question Jengo’s initial complaints about the video game industry. If Jengo is the game to beat all games, shouldn’t it be more than an average point-and-click with above-average writing and art?

On the other hand, if Jengo balances its mockery by never taking itself too seriously, the title could succeed wonderfully as a smart discourse on late-2010s gaming and media. Either way, Jengo looks to be a thoroughly enjoyable point-and-click that will make you laugh out loud as often as it makes you furrow your brow in disbelief and disgust. We look forward to seeing it in its final state, inevitably beautifully grotesque and oozing with wit.

The Verdict

Jengo, the preview, rushes on stage with guns drawn and firing. It’s a point-and-click adventure that is anything but ordinary, happily lobbing bombs of wit against its own industry and anything else that crosses its path. Jengo promises, at the very least, to be an interesting play — even if it tumbles from the too-tall pedestal it’s actively creating for itself.

Taryn Ziegler
Written by
April 24, 2018
Published in Editorial

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Taryn is a digital content strategist with an avid appetite for literature and gaming. She graduated from the University of Washington Bothell with a degree in Culture, Literature, and the Arts, and since then has been engaged in copywriting for businesses from AutoNation to DirtFish Rally School. While she'll happily play most games set in front of her, Taryn heartily prefers a good ol' turn-based strategy RPG, such as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia and Divinity: Original Sin.

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