RedJack: Revenge of the Brethren

Developer:  Cyberflix
Publisher:  THQ
Year Released:  1998

Review by Gordon Aplin (March, 1999)
redjack.jpgRedJack: Revenge of the Brethren is very much a light-hearted action/adventure game. The action sequences are fairly easy to master with a little practice and the adventuring problems, with the exception of one logic puzzle, provide almost no challenge at all. Yet I must admit, as an adventurer who can tolerate a little action, I found it to be quite an entertaining diversion and much better than I anticipated. Needless to say, it perhaps won't appeal to hard-core action fans nor to adventurers who dislike action.

Why is someone trying to kill me?
The introduction tells the tale of Captain RedJack and his Brethren who pull off the heist of the Seventeenth Century by capturing all the Spanish gold in Cartagena, only to be betrayed by one of their own. On an uncharted island RedJack, with his dying breath, puts a curse on the gold for seventeen years until the Brethren can reassemble there to unmask the traitor and claim their share of the booty. At the very moment that RedJack breaths his last a newborn child takes his first breath, and that is the only, tenuous, link to your role in the story that I could find. Though, make no mistake, destiny has certainly marked your cards.

That child is Nicholas Dove, born on Lizard Point, the same island where RedJack was born and grew up. You take control of the game (as Nick) seventeen years later and, unlike Guybrush Threepwood, you don't have a burning ambition to be a pirate, but it is the only job on offer and others are telling you to 'make something of yourself'. Besides, an evil, shadowy figure has sent assassins to kill you. So you decide to run away and become a pirate, but first you must learn to fight and pass a test of courage. The rest of the story unfolds as you progress through the game and holds few surprises, you should have the traitor worked out long before the climax.

'Shiver me timbers', and all that jazz
The ease of gameplay allows the story to proceed at a fair pace resulting in a fairly enjoyable, tongue-in-cheek, pirate romp. The dialogue is, at times, quite witty and the voice acting and characterisations really add to the story. I loved the way Lyle, in particular, would lean closer to impart a confidence or a threat. Lyle's language is a little coarse at times, as befits a hard-drinking pirate, but his heart's in the right place.

RedJack is a first-person perspective game interspersed with occasional third-person cut scenes. The graphics are excellent and allow for 360 degree panning and the music is suitably 'piratey'. The adventuring problems are relatively straightforward and are made easier as other characters generally tell you what you must do, or the item you need is often conveniently located near to where you must use it. The arcade/action sequences are also fairly simple with, perhaps, the training section at the beginning being the toughest. Though, if I have to jump across blocks in one more lava lake in this type of game I'll ... I'll ... well, I'll think of something! I don't know anyone who actually enjoys these almost obligatory action/arcade jump-the-blocks puzzles. I'm not just picking on RedJack here (it was much worse in King's Quest: Mask of Eternity) but I would appreciate more imaginative puzzle design.

Do or die
Actually, in some of the sword fighting sequences it isn't necessary to fight to the bitter end, as all you need to do is stay alive until you can use something in the game world to help you defeat your opponent. It's staying alive that might prove tricky. If I may offer a little hint here, if you find yourself constantly dying in any of the sword fights then it's probably time to see if you can do anything else whilst the fight is in progress. Other action sequences are more arcade-like, simply point the gun, cannon or ballista and click the mouse button to fire. Once again, a little practice should get you through them.

The interface is intuitive and allows for keyboard or mouse navigation. Your cursor is a pointer that becomes a double arrow to indicate when you can move forward or becomes a hand when you can interact with objects and characters in the game world. Click on a character to initiate a conversation and a menu pops up from where you can select responses and ask questions. You can enable subtitles from the main screen, but these only appear in conversations, not in cut sequences. Your inventory is a trunk that is almost invisible at the bottom left corner of the screen, but it appears each time you place your cursor over it. To use inventory items you must 'drag' them from your trunk by holding down the left mouse button.

RedJack: Revenge of the Brethren is contained on three CDs yet it is not really a very large game. I moved through it quickly, probably because the adventuring problems were so easy, deliberately so, it seemed to me. Despite this I quite enjoyed it. It is an entertaining swashbuckling yarn that's a little 'darker' than Monkey Island, what with assassins hacking off people's limbs, etc., but it never takes itself too seriously. The characters' expressions are wonderfully conveyed in the conversation animations and, as I mentioned earlier, the dialogue is humorous, at times bordering on the absurd in a way that quite appealed to me. rating:  

Copyright © Gordon Aplin 1999. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
Windows 95: Pentium 133 or better (P200 recommended), 16MB RAM (32MB recommended), 70MB hard drive space (250MB recommended), 4x CD-ROM or better drive, DirectDraw compatible graphics.