Batten down the hatches, raise the mizzenmast, and keelhaul the scalawags! Jolly Rover, a new point-and-click adventure by Brawsome puts players in the sea salt-encrusted boots of incorrigible canine, Gaius James Rover, as he explores tropical islands and towns, dabbles in mysterious voodoo spells, and combines a host of random items to solve puzzles. And yes, there’s a hidden treasure of untold riches to be found.
Did I mention that all of the game’s primary characters are dogs? It’s a quirky choice, but one that also happens to play out very well. Different characters are represented by different breeds of dog, providing players with an implied understanding of whom they’re dealing with at any given moment. The characters and artwork all have a lot of personality, and developer Andrew Goulding’s smile-inducing script is well-written and charming. Although there are a couple of points at which the game’s humor gets a bit blue, it never warrants more than a PG-13 rating. All of the characters are fully voiced, and while some of the secondary character performances are a little spotty, the main characters all sound great – particularly the titular dachshund protagonist.
Jolly Rover’s interface is about as simple and elegant as they come, with highlighted text making it easy to tell if you haven’t interacted with something yet. Those familiar with point-and-click adventures will have no trouble diving right in, and even newcomers will have a fairly easy time getting started. True to the genre, you’ll need to grab everything that isn’t nailed down, and use those items to solve the Gaius’ various predicaments. Very early on in the game, the player is given access to a parrot companion who doubles as an in-game hint system. Feeding your feathered friend crackers found in the game world, and he’ll help you through a puzzle that’s giving you trouble. The system is seamless (and entirely optional), and is a great way to ensure that less persistent adventurers don’t stay stumped for too long.
Comparisons to other point-and-click adventure games are unavoidable (in particular, early LucasArts adventures, and even more particularly, the Monkey Island series), but adventure game fans shouldn’t view such comparisons as a downside. Quite the contrary. If you grew up playing old-school adventure games, Jolly Rover is especially likely to dredge up some warm-and-fuzzy feelings of nostalgia. Whether hunting down ingredients for a pirate delicacy, discovering a new voodoo spell, or using strange navigational tools to explore hidden caves and forests, would-be pirate-hounds will find a lot to like.
Sure, if mouse-driven, puzzle-based adventure games aren’t your thing, Jolly Rover isn’t likely to change your mind. Adventure game fans, on the other hand, can look forward to an enjoyable story with some memorable characters and artwork, a polished interface, and even some cool unlockables, like new music tracks and concept art. In short, if Jolly Rover doesn’t scratch your adventure-gaming itch, you may need a flea coller.
If you’re still on the fence, there’s a playable demo that’s a very good representation of the games first couple of hours. Grab the full version of Jolly Rover from the official Brawsome website, or from one of the various digital distribution outlets like Steam and Direct2Drive.
You can also check out our interview with Andrew Goulding, founder of Brawsome and Jolly Rover’s mastermind, here.
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