“Jack and Casie Demo” Review
Release date: .
Verdict: 3/5 stars. It’s hard to call this game good, per say, the same as it’s hard to call this game bad. The best I can recommend is you try it yourself and see if its faculties appeal to you, which they probably will, given how much care was put into the thing.
I downloaded this game for two reasons: the opportunity to shitcan some up – and – coming indie developers who have dreams and ambitions in order to make myself feel better about losing all of mine along the way in favour of whining about a medium that I spent an inordinate amount of time on in my childhood and am unable to throw away in favour of more “serious” arts such as poetry and literature, and also because this game looks slightly less shit than the rest of the shit on Shit.io — I mean Itch.io. But now that Itch’s newest blog post is pimping this trash baby and making me look like some scrub who can’t even find a video game of his own free will, I have to work extra hard in order to shitcan these devs, or else someone else will do it for me!
The Itch blog has been getting gayer and gayer recently, just like Itch itself, so consider it a sign of the times that alongside gay anime visual novels and ultra – gorey GO FUCK YOURSELF ACTION, we can have a furry trash game such as Jack and Casie, featuring a furry catgirl travelling alongside a literal trash can. Where in the past, all of these games would be ostracised as for social outcasts who silently wank off to them in the privacy of their own homes, now we can enjoy the fruits of our furry weeb labours, and wank off at the public library. But don’t get any ideas — even though this cat is stacked, there’s no pornography here! Sad, seeing as it would have improved the experience.
You know, I’ve been contemplating the state of my writing recently, wondering if it’s getting less and less sensicle in favour of having more and more vulgarity. Just because somebody talks about cat wanks and the homosexual agenda, does that make me any less of a credible fella? Seeing how I only average a hundred views a day, I think we all know the answer to that question…
The answer is no. Oh, hell, I’m just an empty voice calling out to the void.
Boots and Cats and Boots and Cats
From the brilliant mind of the entity known as “shoutscion”, a name as unpronounceable as “Froge”, comes a video game about all the rip – roaring fun of inventory management, and from the very outset the Deus Ex war flashbacks set in. First you have to buy some supplies you have no idea what to do with in a GUI that makes you hold “shift” on everything with gameplay that makes you hold “ctrl” while continually clicking and dragging on items in a bid to make sure you throw away the proper items and not the items you can sell for fat stacks of dosh which you use to buy more supplies you have no idea what to do with. So it’s kind of beautiful in how cyclical it is, except the cycle involves all anxiety, all the time, in what I bid as a game for those who get a smug satisfaction out of doing their taxes.
I guess I should explain what this game even is, like I’m some sort of games critic. The crux of the game involves Cool Action Heroine® “Casie” as she travels along with the Bumbling Sidekick® “Jack”, who gets dumpstered in one hit by virtue of him being a dumpster. Casie is the only one who can do anything, so it’s Jack’s job to feed her guns, weaponry, food, and other novelties so she can miss all her attacks thanks to RNJesus deciding you don’t get to have any fun that turn, in an innovative gameplay loop that encourages both obsessive hoarding and being in virtual poverty. Anything on the top of your inventory is used first, and so you’ll be forced to either pick up crap off the ground in order to not die in battle, or swear at yourself for being unable to sort your inventory in order to make your good guns rise to the top by virtue of there not being enough space: all the room taken up by eggs and scrap metal, you see.
The core of the gameplay seems simple: pick up gun, use gun on furry, badabing, badaboom. But there’s a complexity to the gameplay that you wouldn’t expect to see in a title such as this, and by “complexity”, I mean I’ve played this game for two hours and I still have no idea what’s going on. Some enemies are weak to some guns, except you can only use a gun once, so you have to wait for RNJesus to give you some more. Some enemies have weak spots where it’s implied you can target them, except it’s all automatic, and you just need the right gun. Some enemies are only weak to bigass guns with super rare ammo, making fighting them a chore because it’s impractical to hoard them all when you have to make room for healing items that you’ll need because the later enemies always hit you while you never hit them, or otherwise take no damage from the guns you can fit in your trash can. You earn EXP, but I don’t recall actually levelling up, and you only earn max HP from eating meals you have to dedicated a substantial amount of your inventory to actually making, if you can find the components and recipes at all.
And then the actual combat is a bit of a mess because you’re so focused on managing a constant stream of input and optimizations that you have no time to plan out what how you’re going to fight the enemy in front of you. The combat feels too fast and the little walking scenes after combat feels too slow, leading to a disconnect where you’re holding the fast – forward key waiting for combat, but then once you get into combat you’re overwhelmed at the standard pace. It’s like playing Tetris on the later difficulties where one wrong move causes a small hole in the structure that you can never clear out in time because you have to focus on placing the current pieces in a proper position. What’s made worse is how the enemy actions feel like they can happen at any time, while you’re waiting for your turn based on a bar that keeps getting interrupted because the enemies take their turns before you. There’s no structure to the combat, and it makes things like throwing a grenade after timing the pin pull far more frustrating than it needs to be.
Even if the combat was slowed down, there would still be the issue of memorising which guns are strong against which enemies, and how best to take care of them — especially since the damage taken is so high later on and the food you find naturally is in no shape to heal the damage you take. You have to resort to a field guide which takes up space in your inventory and can only be read once per turn, preventing you from using another action item like the spotlight which stuns enemies. If you don’t want to end up wasting time in battle you have to memorise what the field guide tells you on the first read, or else take up another turn trying to go over it again. What’s disappointing is how games like Paper Mario make it super obvious in their enemy designs who is weak to what, and how you can get a lock on their HP after the first tattle instead of having it appear as “???/???” for all eternity. It’s definitely a case of the GUI being too crowded for the extra info, but at the same time requiring that info for a pleasurable game experience. Have you considered making it so I can hold “shift” on the enemy like I can the items for extra info? This significant mechanic feels too important to just hide behind an item’s separate cutscene.
Writing, rapping, and Catrapping
One of the peculiarities of this game is in the way it’s written. It follows the trend of making all your conversations super casual and being passively comedic without trying to be a farce, and to its credit, it only took until the first hour to break the fourth wall, which is 600,000% longer than your average comedy indie game. I wouldn’t say any of the writing was laugh – out – loud hilarious, or even funny in an appreciable way, but just some tonal influences on the rest of the game, being obligated to shove some characters in our faces because that’s what every game has to do nowadays in order to be a success. Remember back when DOOM Guy and Quake Guy were the peaks of video game characterisation, and how nobody complained that we never got a model to make poorly – animated Source Filmmaker porn out of? Well, now that we live in an era where “Overwatch” is one of the most searched – up terms on Pornhub and where I couldn’t search up the phrase “Stonking great tits” without being treated to Tracer breast expansion videos — on YouTube, a platform which will censor video game reviews but gladly hosts pornography featuring their characters as long as nobody’s nude — , I can’t blame the developers for feeling the obligations of the times.
There is also the possibility that Casie and Jack are somebody’s original characters who came first and decided to make a game about them later, in which case I must appluad them for not making the cat a slut, and then hiss for giving them big tits anyway. This is just a personal preference, but I like my girls with well – toned bodies and appreciably flat chests, like tomboys with sincerity and a helping of class. I can’t help but wonder how many big – tiddied women have tried to do anything strenuous and then seriously consider breast reduction surgery, given how every account of big tits makes them worthless for everything beyond child – rearing and controlling men. It does feel like the character, though not in the blatantly obvious sense of most furry characters, was designed to be cute first and then put practicality out of what’s leftover. You know, a line of dialogue would clear up the mammaries in the room. Just say her back hurts? Or something?
And the design does tie in to the dialogue, so at least the artists get props for consistency, in that the trash can looks like a worrisome little bugger, the cat looks like a snarky and somewhat coy son – of – a – bitch, and they’re both that, so at least somebody out there can design some damn characters. What’s disappointing is how for all the tender love and care that went into the item descriptions and the lore of this game, I never got to see any really extended dialogue between characters beyond just a few sentences. Characters, after all, live and die based on what they say rather than what they do. You can have a grizzled middle – aged white guy who’s super competent at shooting up everything, but if he doesn’t utter anything interesting, then he’s as good as nobody. If the developers care for these little creatures, and I get the sense that they do given how game development — and Game Maker games especially — are fucking hell to create even a basic working dialogue system, going through all the effort means that there is somebody on the development team who has a lot to say, and simply hasn’t said it yet. I await patiently the potential that awaits the full release, and I pray to Chaos that whatever happens before that time ends up doing wonders for Casie and Jack; both the characters and the game.
But you know, this is just beating around the bush. I think I speak for all furries when I say: “Where is the sexy footage?!”. Fuck, I don’t like Night in the Woods, but at least I can admit their cats were looking good! Naked, that is. And with things inside them. Sexy things. Sometimes coming out of them.
The gameplay is a bit of a buzzkill, but everything else seems fine, so maybe the crying artist inside me is trying not to throw a hissy fit that these artistically – talented developers are doing more than I could ever hope to do outside of designing websites of all things. As a bonus, especially given this game was made in — and let me shout it from the rooftops — GAME MAKER of all things, there were no crashes, where during development of my own games there would be more crashes than the Bitcoin market after the newest video cards are announced. It would be fascinating to see what dark magic makes this game work — oh wait! It’s proprietary software! Why not just save me the bother and send me a build with a middle finger in place of the main menu? At least that would be easy to Game Make.
I see in this game much of what I see in myself, beyond being another cultural parasite using free assets while not contributing in any way to free culture. You know, at least when I uploaded my shitty Game Maker game, I made sure it included all the sources, back when I was ignorant and licensed it under a Creative Commons thing as opposed to a dedicated technical licence like the MIT Expat one. But Game Maker itself is proprietary software, and until a free software interpreter comes along and makes it possible to run Game Maker titles without the use of the crippleware that is the original development environment, then all these games will just be another coercive blemish on the world of computers.
No, what I see in this game is the snarky attitude and its playful attitude. It’s pixel art style that isn’t minimalist but isn’t overdesigned either. The writing that’s descriptive and interesting and contributing to the game in the same way System Shock 2 had its descriptions contribute to it. And the general cuteness of the thing, that passive æsthetic with fantastic weapon designs while still involving funny animals and cartoony trash cans, is what’s appealing to me most about it. There is much to appreciate here and much, especially, that I appreciate. And though I don’t know if this will turn out to be a good game, or if I can even call this a good game right now, I can say that it has potential. And as we know, potential is only as good as the final result it barrels into. So don’t drop the ball, eh?