We’ve all enjoyed playing the hero, claiming glory as we save the world over and over from world-ending disasters. But every now and then developers flip the coin, giving players a chance to Indulge their bad side and play on the side of evil.
Headup Games latest action-adventure created by solo developer Nicolas Meyssonnie throws players into a Halloween horror where players take control of charismatic villain Pumpkin Jack.
Playing as a servant of the devil, the dead trickster Jack whose soul has been placed in a pumpkin must annihilate the forces of good. Pumpkin Jack has been tasked with hunting down the devil’s greatest foe, a powerful wizard who is the champion of humanity.
Being accompanied by a ghastly owl as a guide and a chatterbox crow, players will have to traverse through a handful of colourful but chaotic levels.
The world of Pumpkin Jack literally leaps off the screen with each level boasting a psychedelic colour palette alongside stunning lighting effects.
Filled with crows, graveyards and glowing green cauldrons each level exhibits a tongue in cheek macabre atmosphere but completes the ghoulish presentation.
Down to the amazing character design Pumpkin, Jack looks like everything you would want from a Halloween game aesthetic wise.
Although levels aren’t as diverse as they could be, with the stage looking similar at times, saying that there is enough variety in each level to not make them repetitive.
Visually Pumpkin Jack can look dated at times compared to others games on the market and graphics do look slightly clunky in handheld mode for those playing on the Switch.
Each level is based on a different eerie theme accompanied by a unique gimmick such as horse riding or exploring a maze. There is a linear path to follow but each stage is fairly open, requiring some exploration to find hidden items.
Players will be presented with many platforming challenges that are quite challenging. Pumpkin Jack does well at keeping players on their toes offering new obstacles to overcome with using what they learnt from the latter. Players will die a fair few times with the difficulty varying as you progress through the stage.
However with all the checkpoints available which refill your health I never really felt in danger and once you get a grasp of the controls some parts feel really easy compared to others. But considering how long each of the levels are it’s good to have a variety of difficulty especially as there isn’t a difficulty setting.
Saying that, Pumpkin Jack does have a little mode where the player will just control Jack’s head and complete somewhat complex puzzles to help move ahead.
The world of Pumpkin Jack is filled with monsters who technically work for the same boss as you but are mindless so you have to fight them. Enemies don’t present a massive challenge throughout the game even though there is a good variety of them to defeat, with a lot of them you just use similar methods to defeat.
The boss battles are glorious, literally one of the best parts of the game, each boss has a challenging move set that will take most players a few attempts but the reward for defeating them is worth it.
Players’ time will be split between combat and platforming and the gameplay is easy to grasp for some of those sticky situations. Combat is very simple players will be able to execute combos by tapping the Y button. As players progress and beat more bosses and gain new weapons they will be able to pull off a variety of special moves that even come with their own animation.
Jack can also dodge enemies by pressing the A button to perform a roll. Not forgetting Jack can dispatch his crow which can be used to attack enemies or knock down platforms. Combat may be very simple but it’s enough as most enemies do present a challenge other than the bosses.
Completing most of the platforming will require a lot of timing as Jack uses his double jump to survive the 3-D terrains. However, the camera can be annoying at times moving at the wrong time resulting in more failed jumps than needed.
Pumpkin Jack is a pleasant surprise just in time for Halloween, the overall design is amazing considering it comes from a single developer. The six levels offer enough variety and challenge as to not get repetitive and as this will take about 5-6 hours to complete on the first run players will come back to get all the hidden items for extra skins.
However, the gameplay feels slightly dated, visually the quality really drops in handheld mode if playing on the Switch and the camera needs to be a bit more reactive especially as the platforming requires precision at a fast pace.
Pumpkin Jack is out now on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC