Jake is the world's greatest thief. But is it our hearts or money he's after?
While we all know thievery is a crime, there's something in our culture that makes it alluring to watch. Perhaps it's the concept of getting away with it vicariously. Maybe it's the "do not enter" effect. You know, the fact that our parents told us not to back when we were kids. No matter the reason, Jake Escapes is counting on your fascination. The question is: does this one put the appeal of burgling into your hands, or make you want to steal your money back?
Jake's adventure starts when he steals an alien artifact known as the G.R.A.I.L. from Area 51. Being that he is the most talented thief in the world, of course, this was an effortless job for he and his partner, the genius inventor Doc. Alas, their job has just begun once they've got the G.R.A.I.L., as word gets out to crime organizations across the world, all of whom want their hands on the artifact. Add to that a permanent tail in the form of Bob (the world's greatest secret agent naturally), and Jake's escape has just begun.
To make his way across the extremely tall skyscrapers that he's (for some reason) perpetually climbing, Jake requires some guidance in the form of swipes. The control scheme is very much made for the iOS, focusing on cleverly designed motions used to usher Jake to criminal safety. He'll be met at open windows, however, by people that are doing the best they can to stop his climb. Stopping them is just a tap away, thanks to Doc and his trusty laser (and murderous urges). But since a thief's job never ends, Jake also has certain items that he's expected to collect on his way. They are prominently displayed with a sparkling highlight, but no matter how easy they are to see, they aren't always easy to acquire.
While every level features a climb, Jake Escapes does the best it can to keep some variety in the game. That isn't to say it does spectacularly well, though, as every level features mechanically similar enemies. Mostly, variance comes in the form of story-centric costumes - a particular favourite of mine being the Tetris block droppers in Russia. With that said, skeptics of Game & Watch-style swipe play beware: this one sticks to its formula.
Each level comes with a list of tasks, displayed as polaroids, which have to be completed to initiate a boss battle. The tasks involve collecting and combining items, almost ad nauseum. The experience is fun for pattern hounds and those looking for a casual distraction, but it's strategy light to say the least. With that said, difficulty also go from one extreme to another very quickly if you don't immediately figure some of the more obtuse tasks out on your own. It's a shame, since the otherwise rote style could have been injected with a little puzzling had the options not been "breeze by" or "have your hand held."
The graphics in this one are definitely a high point. The cutscenes and menus have an "noir spy film" vibe, with stylized graphics and a lots of sepia tones. That said, the style works nicely and combines funnily with the '70's heist movie score, outfitting fans of all caper movies with something to love.
All in all, Jake Escapes is a solidly-designed package that would surely entice any thief-in-training to take a look. With this one, the only problem is that the package you're snagging is less "diamonds" and more "diamonds in the rough." This is an iOS title that invokes some of the great elements of classic games like Crazy Climber, but fails to have that something special as the time goes on. The repetition and minimal variance in goals (regardless of the level) make the very first mission feel far too similar to the twentieth one. That isn't a deal breaker, but let's just say it isn't a G.R.A.I.L - maker either.
- Great overall vibe; captures old spy movie essence well. Some clever, funny moments within the game's visuals and cutscenes. Swipe controls are very intuitive. Solid core mechanics.
- Very repetitive; offers little in the way of varied or unique gameplay. Instructions go from hands-off to hands-on too quickly.