08 October 2011

What's Stuck in Jack's Craw?

Jack Claw is a top-down action scroller built around an interesting mechanic: Jack's Claw.  The Claw is a Doc Ock-like tentacle protruding from the protagonist's right arm that can be used to grip, lift, smash, crush, and throw just about anything.  Unfortunately, the core mechanic falls down in execution.  The mouse controls for The Claw simply aren't sensitive enough to forcefully smash or throw anything.  The result is a very calm and considered Claw, too slow to have any fun with: the fun of wrecking things, slamming cars from wall to wall, throwing guys at high velocity into faraway dumpsters.  With all the physics and destructable environments firmly in place, it really is a missed opportunity.  Frozenbyte can attest to this, as they were forced to abandon the project to save the company's future.

Presentationally, the game is quite strong, if not a little cliché.  Jack has broken out of jail, on the run from the authorities in a rundown town.  The setup draws heavily on the comic book stylings of Sin City, from the [captioned] opening monologues to the 40s-era décor.  There's a hint of Tarantino in there as well, with Bombora-esque surf rock undercutting it.

At this point Jack Claw consists of only one level, and can be finished in under five minutes, so it's better that you go in thinking of it more as a prototype than a full game.  Having said that, the game does come with a level editor, so perhaps the story doesn't end here.

Jack Claw is a computer game developed by Frozenbyte.  You can download it as part of the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle.   You can also take part in the game's future on the Frozenbyte forums.

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