South Africa is really up-and-coming in the video game industry and with games like Broforce being internationally successful, it’s an exciting time for local developers. Two locally produced video games were at Gamescom this year and I had the chance to play one of them: Jengo. Unlike the majority of video games that are pumped out each year, Jengo looks to the past and brings back a genre from yesteryear: point and click adventures.
The concept behind Jengo is the main character gets sucked into a video game and needs to save the game’s world from the impending apocalypse. What makes this such a unique experience are all the tiny references to video games and pop culture. The demo covered a small section of the game, but was nonetheless entertaining and challenging. Like all point and click adventures, it’s very story and text heavy. It has a streamlined action control system and really only require’s the PC mouse. The action wheel consists of: See item, take item, talk and examine. You’ll also have an inventory for any items and baubles you pick up.
The section I played was at the start of the game, where you character is warped into a game and thrust into the deep end. He’s lost, confused and everyone he meets is as eccentric as the old man down the street. Humour is what shines through in this game. My first concern is that most lines of dialogue contain a joke or a reference and over the course of the full game, this kind of writing may become boring. It’s great to have humour, but when every line contains a punchline, it might get old really quickly.
My second concern is that because there are so many references in a single screen, Jengo may lose its own voice. I love the references, but that’s what I remember about the game. You want your game to remembered as a great experience, not ‘Oh I played a game with all these Super Mario Easter eggs in it.’
My two concerns aside, the game is shaping up to be an interesting one. The demo was still an early build, and did show some bugs. After chatting with the makers, I’m sure they aware of them. There weren’t any voices, but voice acting will be added further down the line, which will breathe more life into the game.
Another stand-out of the game, and my final piece of praise, is the artwork. It’s a visual feast and the unusual character designs makes so much sense. It can also be a little gory, but still manages to charm me.
While playing the game I noticed a lot of people walk past me taking pictures of the game and smiling at the site of a point and click adventure. It seems as though the game is striking an old and forgotten memory that people want to experience again. Games like Grim Fandango and Escape from Monkey Island have huge fan bases, yet these adventures are few and far between these days. I’m very glad that group of South African game creators are behind a game like Jengo. It’s far away from completion, but it’s definitely a title to watch out for.