Well, at least the Rock has a fallback option
Somewhere in the Venn diagram between bland enemies, lackluster level design, and uninteresting action exists this by-the-numbers IP-based game.
The game is based on a new plot, but brings in a lot of the characters from the films — albeit with all new voice acting. The visuals, both on the SteamDeck and on a gaming PC, don’t really scream “high end,” but then again the main demographic for this game isn’t the discerning adult, it’s the 8 or 9 yr old kid in the family.
From the onset it feels like the game thrives on reusing its assets and ideas, right down to the thousands of spider-like creatures that we face before we see any real enemies, or very similar jungle path exploration. There’s lite novelty in some sequences (like jumping down into a pool of water or hopping across a broken bridge) but it never feels like it’s narratively meant to be there, only that it’s been pulled from a bag of tricks. That ultimately makes it feel empty, with a regular cadence of action sequence to enemy room sequence to action sequence taking up the gamplay. The most interesting part of the game could have been the overworld, where we traverse the map via a Jeep filled with the characters who are often dropping some funny banter, but even that feels sparse and missing stuff to actually do.
All that, or lack of, is hampered by the over-generalized controls. The game feels clunky, with jumps relying on canned animations that often take too long, or the lack of any real controllable speed when we’re making our way around. In fact, the clunkiness prevents me from actually wanting to seek out any of the in-game collectibles (like letters in each level that spell “JUMANJI”). I just kind of want to get the levels over with.
It’s rarely fun, often treading the line between “boring” and “I’m only playing this because I really like Jumanji.” And, to be frank, I’m not sure how many kids actually love the movie series enough to want a game based on it.
There aren’t many wild adventures in Jumanji this time around. Perhaps it’s best just to stick to watching the movies instead.
This review is based on a Steam code sent to SideQuesting by the publisher. It initially appeared on The SideQuest for November 16th, 2023.