Jack Move (PC/Steam Deck) Review

Let’s Jack In One More Time

By Alex Orona

Jack Move is a new indie turned based RPG from So Romantic, a solo dev microstudio. In it you play as Noa, a hacker vigilante with a plucky attitude and nose for mischief, set in a Cyberpunk world. Jack Move puts together beautiful pixel art, catchy chip tunes and rock solid gameplay. That’s really what it comes down to, it’s a fully realized presentation that rarely stumbles along at its ten hour brisk story pace.

Jack Move puts you in the shoes of Noa, a hacker that excels in smaller crimes and creating chaos for the Monomind Corporation. In this world, there was an outage of all electronics creating the dark ages for humanity. It is during this time that Monomind takes over everything from Healthcare, Government and technology. With the evil corporate overlords ruling, leave it to Noa to take them down a peg. With her partner Ryder on the coms, together they hack and execute strategic plans to take down the corporation and possibly make rent. 

Unfortunately, things hit close to home when the corporation comes for Noa’s father and his research. From there, Noa and Ryder are thrust into a dangerous world of the mafia and military task forces while exploring VR constructs. The story rarely feels slow and the plot keeps you interested the entire way. Every new conversation pushed me to want to explore the next area or find the next character to engage with. The world feels lived in and there’s interesting stuff around every corner. 

As far as the gameplay is concerned, it’s a turn based JRPG style combat. There are spells that follow four basic elements: Cyberware, Electroware, Wetware and Physical. Each of these plays like a rock, paper, scissors system to hit weak points on enemies. There’s also a basic attack, heals and Jack Moves which act as a special all out attack with the same elemental affinities. The spells and abilities can be installed via a RAM system, where you have a finite amount of RAM to install the spells you want. This limitation can be upgraded for more RAM slots, spells can be installed on the fly and leveled up with use. 

The installation system is as simple or as deep as you make it. You can always purchase new powerful spells or simply upgrade the ones you have. There’s also expansion slots to equip stat buffs or combat perks. With all of these systems working together, combat flows with a relatively simple back and forth. This is both a blessing and a curse because despite the stat boosts and elemental spells, the changes feel minimal in the grand scheme of things. Hitting an opponent’s weak spot generally only adds another 10% of damage while they generally hit like Mack trucks. Jack Move combat is difficult, but not insurmountable. 

Since the difficulty keeps at a steady progression throughout the story, boss battles can feel like long drawn out affairs. Like a tennis match that goes on for far too long, the heavier story encounters definitely act as wars of attrition. One positive note comes with the combat encounter quick adjustment screen. Built directly into the pause menu, you can lower, raise or turn off random encounters entirely. This feels like a breath of fresh air considering that in its normal setting, the random encounters do seem very frequent. Also there is a danger meter that will build over time, to indicate when the next combat encounter is coming, so you can at least plan the next battle. 

Jack Move is a great short term RPG that delivers fantastic storytelling and engaging world building. The mechanics allow for lot’s of variation in the combat, despite how drawn out the boss battles can become. Noa and Ryder are a stylish duo that make even the most intense situation a blast. I came for the turn based combat but stayed for the cyberpunk world. In a world of 80-100 hour JRPGs, it’s refreshing to find one that doesn’t overstay its welcome.  I recommend you jack in and enjoy. 

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