Jack of All Tribes is a time management / building sim hybrid that will keep you on your toes
What do you get when you mix Build-A-Lot, Gemini Lost, and My Kingdom for the Princess? Peggle?! No, what were you thinking? Wandering Willows? Closer, but not yet there. All kidding aside, the game I’m talking about is Jack of all Tribes, the newest release by developer DivoGames. With the previously mentioned role models and plenty of unique features and quirky ideas, the game is sure to please casual players of all shades.
The player follows the destiny of Jack, a young and rather cheeky man who travels back in time involuntarily while riding a rollercoaster. He finds himself in a primitive world whose people think he is the stranger that legend says will bring peace back to the lands. Guided and supported by a beautiful native girl named Rainbow, he embarks on the quest to fulfill the legend.
Jack of all Tribes features 39 levels. There’s only one mode, but players have a choice of trying to reach the expert goal by finishing the level in a certain time.
The basic gameplay of Jack of all Tribes is hard to categorize. There are villagers that you have to take care of, and you have to construct buildings to earn gold. But these aspects are only the groundwork, since there are other various goals to fulfill in each level. Although levels are timed, the game feels very different from your average building simulation because the pace is very hectic, the identification with villagers is higher than with abstract workers, and tasks vary highly.
Resources are the core of the game. Food comes from bushes, farms, mills, or fields, gold is provided by upgrading houses, regular rents, or occasional treasure chests/rewards. Wood, on the other hand, can be collected by cutting down trees or through a forester’s lodge. Furthermore the player can also construct buildings for entertainment, such as the theater or the cocktail bar. Each time a request for entertainment is satisfied by clicking on the appropriate building, the player will also earn a nice amount of gold.
The goals in Jack of all Tribes are ever-changing. The goal that is displayed in the beginning of the level is never the only one you have to fulfill, and sometimes you have to complete up to 10 different goals successively. Those include collecting a certain number of resources, defeating eight enemies, constructing a special building, repairing monuments, or exploring an abandoned circus. Most of them are integrated into the storyline very well, and since it usually does not take too long to fulfill them, this only adds to the game’s frantic pace.
Of course Jack of all Tribes also features token hidden object scenes, but here they are not as out of place as in other similar titles. Most of the time you have to explore strange objects that come from the future, and while doing that you can earn additional gold and will find helpful items which will grant bonuses like increasing the efficiency of your tribesmen. As such, those (rare) scenes actually make sense, advance the plot, and even affect the main game.
On the downside, the game’s playtime is a bit disappointing. While it is nice that easy and complicated levels kind of alternate, most of them won’t take very long for experienced players to finish. Lacking significant replay value or alternate modes, the game can be completed in 3 or 4 hours. Furthermore, the extremely hectic pace of the game and the huge number of features and actions you have to juggle at the same time it is impossible to avoid wrong clicks. While it is possible to cancel any action easily, you will rarely notice your mistake early enough, because by then you are already dealing with the next task.
However, this flaws are definitely forgivable when a game is as entertaining and wonderful otherwise as Jack of all Tribes. The graphics are gorgeous, and it is a blast to watch your tribesmen running around, taking a bath, cutting down trees, or communicating with each other during very rare breaks. The whole game feels absolutely fresh and unique, which is a remarkable achievement and will be appreciated by a lot of players.
All in all Jack of all Tribes is a highly pleasant experience that will keep players entertained and on their toes. The combination of time management game and building simulation has been made never as seamlessly as in this case, and the delicious graphics along with intuitive controls and pace are only the icing on the cake. While replayability is limited, and some people might be disappointed by the rather short playing time, the funny storyline with lots of cultural references easily makes up for those few shortcomings.