When I heard about this game, I jumped at the chance to review it. I’m currently in the middle of reviewing all of Lucasarts’ point-and-click adventure games, and when I saw the screens for Nightshift Legacy: The Jaguar’s Eye, it looked similar enough that it’d be right up my alley. Nice art, interesting puzzles—it looked like a step in the right direction for the ol’ p‘n’c games. However, on stepping into Jaguar’s Eye, I soon realized this was not quite the Monkey Island or Fate of Atlantis that I expected….
It’s the sequel to The Nightshift Code, and, as I hadn’t played the original game, it took some work for me to figure out exactly where the story was going in this game. After playing for an hour and sitting through many comic book sequences, I was no more clear on what was supposed to be going on. There is nothing to explain what happened in the previous game, the comic book sequences are very vague, and I can’t imagine how even someone who has played the first game could understand what is going on. All I could make out is that there’s some kind of conspiracy going on, and, throughout your completion of puzzles, you’re supposedly going to unravel more of the mystery. The funny thing is, the more you “learn,” the more you’re confused by whatever’s going on.
I mentioned puzzles, and the game revolves around the completion of various kinds of games. You have word puzzles and word deduction puzzles, and the brunt of the game involves you trying to find 12 items in different locations. No explanation is ever given for why you’re looking for these items.
For instance, one scene has your duo heading for Spain to visit a family member of the leading lady. You reach Spain and find her home has been broken into. So what happens next? You’re presented with a view of her study, and you have to find such quest-related items as pins, paperclips, pairs of glasses, lipstick, horses, hearts, stars…basically, a list of totally random objects that actually have no bearing whatsoever on the storyline being presented. It’s never explained even in the game’s tutorial exactly why you’re searching for these weird lists of items on the random screens you come across; you just have to do it in order to progress through the “story.” And when you do find 12 items? Another lot of 12 items comes up on a different screen. And never do the dynamic duo acknowledge why you’ve been hunting the items down.
A waste of time, then? It seems to be. It’s like Where’s Waldo, but without the reasoning. Or fun. At least in Waldo, it gives a funny little note at the top-left of the page about what you are looking for and why. In this here game, there’s just no payoff or logic attached to these lists of 12 items.
Even worse is that, despite the locations looking nice, the item list is often very ambiguous. One item listed was a pair of glasses. I searched high and low trying to find these glasses and saw nothing. On clicking the ever-helpful “HINT’ button, it highlighted a pair of binoculars. Now, I don’t know about you, but if my doctor ever prescribed me a pair of binoculars for bad eyesight, I’d be inclined to sue the idiot’s ass. They also pass off a pear as a “gourd,” and include an item known as a “spigot”…anyone?? On using the “HINT” button, I soon learned that a spigot is the little red circular handle you might find at the end of some pipes. Sometimes, the list of 12 items actually includes 15 to 18, but makes it look like 12. One item might be listed as “6 frogs,” and you have to find SIX, not one, but SIX frogs to strike this ONE item off your list. It all feels poorly put together and thankfully, it’s not the only type of puzzle in the game.
Other puzzles include a word deduction game that is super-simple to complete because the clues it gives you leave you with nothing but the answers to fill in. It would be nice to actually have a BIT of thinking to do during this particular puzzle, but maybe after the annoying item searches, the game decided to give us a break. Another puzzle presents you with a list of blank spaces, and you have to fill them in with letters that surround the list. This is painfully boring and, again, has no bearing on the storyline whatsoever. Even the main characters at one point state they have no idea what it all meant. This was the only time in the game that I felt I could relate to them.
Thankfully, not all is poor in the game. I did mention that the art style is nice. Each location in your item search puzzles is highly detailed. The areas wouldn’t look out of place in a Broken Sword game; that’s for sure. The item search areas are also designed in such a way that the items are hidden very cleverly, so they look like they’re something else at first. You have to have a keen eye to find all the items in the 35 minutes you’re given to do so. Still, with three hints and a bit of patience, each list can be completed within five minutes, and, to be honest, anyone who does have 35 minutes to waste on any of the simple puzzles like these needs to get laid.
The word puzzles are very dull and may as well be photos of similar puzzles you might find in your newspaper. As for the comic book sequences…it all looks like something some teenager in art class put together. Not only that, but they also managed to screw up the tried-and-tested formula of a comic strip reading from top to bottom, left to right. The strips are sometimes designed in such a way that, you know you’re reading them correctly, but they haven’t been laid out properly so you get confused with what is being said. Argh.
Sound-wise…you have very generic sound effects laid over what sounds like a cheap 90s porn soundtrack. You fail to click a correct item from your list. and you get an annoying fail sound. Click the correct item, and you’re presented with a hopeful DING! sound. Very inspiring. As for the soundtrack, I really did expect Ron Jeremy and Christy Canyon to come bounding onto the scene for a quick 10 minute romp. The game is set in the 1930s and yet the soundtrack is overlaid with keyboards and synthesised SFX!!! It’s just all so very wrong, and the combination of it all makes for a disaster of a “game.”
There’s not a lot of replayability to be found, either. There IS a score system, but it’s never explained how it works, and, to be honest, on completing the game for the first time, you’d have to be depressed to want to go back through it for another go. There IS an arcade mode, but this just allows you the chance to play for a high score against yet another time, albeit 10 minutes less. And the items are all in the same locations anyway, so once you find them, you’ll always know where they are in future.
Nightshift Legacy: The Jaguar’s Eye is the kinda game that could do well with those idiots of the gaming scene who judge games based on how they look. Think of it like Grand Theft Auto IV—looks absolutely amazing, but plays like absolute shite. Level 5 proved with Professor Layton and the Curious Village that such an item-finding/puzzle-solving game can work, and be bloody fun as well. Jaguar’s Eye manages to get everything wrong, and it will piss off many of the people who buy it. Still, it is a sequel, so there must be SOME people out there who manage to enjoy this poorly made series. I just hope I don’t ever have to meet them.