Dynamite Jack – Review

Dynamite Jack

developed by Hassey Enterprises Inc.

Dynamite Jack is one of those games that you’ve just gotta love.  It’s an arcade-y stealth / action game that has intuitive controls and simple to get into gameplay.  You might find yourself glued to the game for a couple of hours, or perhaps you might enjoy playing through a level or two at a time during your coffee breaks.  Either way, Dynamite Jack is rewarding and fun.

Dynamite Jack is a hybrid of game styles and genres.  The best way to describe it would be to say that it’s like a cross between Metal Gear Solid and Bomberman, with the crafty level design of Boulder Dash.  The stealth / action is obvious, even from watching the trailer, but there are a few puzzle elements involved that rely on quick thinking.  It’s a blend of design and mechanics that work well together and that make Dynamite Jack addictive and amusing.

There’s not much of a story to the game.  You’re a space marine who has been captured by the enemy and forced to work in their mines.  Now, you’re just trying to escape.  The story is just a backdrop giving the player a sense of urgency and purpose.  The graphics and sound are also a bit unremarkable, though they more than get the job done.  The lighting effects are very good and they are also important to gameplay.

The highlight of the game is it’s actual gameplay.  Players start off every level with nothing more than their bare hands.  As they explore a network of caves and undergound bases they’ll come across useful tools such as a flashlight, security keycards, and remotely controlled bombs.

Light plays an integral part in making Dynamte Jack a stealthy game.  Avoiding a guards flashlight is important, but utilizing your own flashlight to find hidden or hard to see passages is a necessity. Bombs act as a demolition tool that can clear out cave walls and parts of the environment, giving players access to new areas.  They can also be used to kill patrolling guards, but equally important, is that they can be used as a distraction.  The keycards can be color coated, but they simply open up locked doors of the same color and are vital to progression in some levels.

Each level has an exit that the player must reach.  However, there are a number of obstacles to overcome.  You’ll encounter guards, traps, and other environmental hazards.  Your job is to destroy or avoid these problems while trying to reach the exit.  It sounds simple, and during the first couple of levels it is.  After the first few early levels though, the game difficulty begins to increase, adding some interesting predicaments that will require players to think quickly and carefully about how to proceed.

Levels are scored based on the amount of time it took to complete, the number of items you found, guards you killed, or crystals you collected along the way.  One of the factors that affect scoring is clearing a level as quickly as possible.  With that said, every crystal that you do collect will remove one second from the timer.  Collecting all of these items will mean bigger bonuses at the end of a level.  Sometimes exploring a level multiple times is the only way to find all of the items in it or discovering a levels secrets.

There’s even an online worldwide leaderboard for those who love to compete for best times and high scores.   And, if that wasn’t enough, players can create and share their own levels with everyone else in the world, and even compete for the best times and scores on those.  This adds greatly to the replay value and is incentive to play frequently.

Dynamite Jack is available for PC or Mac and can be purchased for the low price of $4.99 through the developers website.  Or you could pick it up on Steam.  Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

 

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