Preview of Jack’s move | GameGrin
I’m always on the lookout for fun RPGs to play in and spend my time in, so when I spied this cyberpunk JRPG adventure on Steam’s Next Fest, I knew I had to give it a try. Developed by a team of freelancers and the work of UK/Taiwan based indie studio, So Romantic, and published by HypeTrain Digital, Moving Jack follows Noa, a young hacker determined to save her father from Monomind, a powerful corporation.
Now, while the basic plot of “the protagonist must save his kidnapped relative from the evil organization” is classic at this point, Moving JackThe version of this story, written by Amalie Kae, is masterfully executed. At least in the demo, each character has a strong personality that’s easy to get attached to, and most, if not all, of the jokes are leaked. One specific moment that impressed me was early on, when the carefree banter before a heist between Noa and her good friend and handler, Ryder, is interrupted by a Monomind guard. Instantly, the tension rises. From this one guard, or rather the company he represents, Noa and Ryder begin to think they might bite off more than they can chew, but decide to go through with their plan anyway. More than any storytelling, this moment plays a dual role in escalating the situation, providing greater insight into who Noa is trying to steal and telling the audience everything they need to know: that Monomind, no matter what he does for business, is so dangerous that even one trespass on their property could be enough to ruin lives.
A lot of Moving JackThe sharp writing, including this example with the guard, does a fantastic job of creating an atmosphere that can only be described as “saucy cyberpunk against an oppressive society”. Fracture’s phenomenally punk soundtrack and good sound design by Adam Hay contribute to this atmosphere. To my untrained ears, the music sounds like a gorgeous, bombastic rock synth, which did a great job of keeping me engaged and hopeful that I could cope with whatever lay ahead. And that sound design was no slouch, making every moment pop and giving every attack a satisfying finish. The biggest treat for my ears was easily the titular Jack Moves, special attacks that require a bar to fill up over multiple battles that hit everything on screen for ridiculous points of damage. But with the sound of thunder rolling in, Jack Moves go from a powerful tool to almost a force of nature.
Another aspect of the game that really helps Moving Jack punctuating every moment of the demo is its character design and animation, led by Joe Williamson. The game’s visuals consist of 8-bit art and are described as “Hi-Bit” on the title’s Steam page. One flaw of this type of pixel art that I’ve tended to notice in the past is that it can be very easy to lose a lot of character and world personality if artists aren’t careful, but Moving JackThe art team absolutely delivered on that front. Noa and her enemies often seem to swing their whole bodies to the music in battle and whenever Noa enters a battle or defeats her opponents, she does this trick and poses, either to prepare for battle or to celebrate cheekily. Moving JackThe Noa demo nails the Noa character in its animation, often acting as the best part of the game.
With all these very neat and impressive story and presentation elements, Moving Jack would have an amazing showcase of a demo, even if the gameplay wasn’t quite up to par. Fortunately, even this aspect of this cyberpunk adventure is not missing! The man behind So Romantic, Edd Parris, handled the programming and design behind the game in addition to the background art. The turn-based combat has a tactical quality, where the player always knows which characters will take their turn next and may even impact that order in some way. Uniquely, the “guard” action, here called “hide”, not only increases Noa’s defense until his next turn, but also gives him another turn when his enemies’ attacks are finished. Notably, Noa can sometimes move twice, so with one-time cache usage, Noa can move three times in a row. There are other neat aspects to combat, including the ability to swap out different special abilities stored in the software mid-battle, although I never felt the need to use this ability after its tutorial during the tutorial. I can imagine that when battles get longer and more complicated, this ability could be a useful tool that also offers a valuable turn-trading risk-reward system for greater flexibility in abilities.
Still, what’s present in the demo far exceeded my expectations, offering plenty of promise for the game’s full release. With a solid foundation and plenty of room to grow, I have no doubt the game will continue to impress. keep an eye on Moving Jack and its slated for release later this year.