As someone who grew up during the initial wave of 3D platformers, the genre is one that I hold very near and dear to my heart. Until just recently, though, if you asked me to play a 3D platforming title using a keyboard instead of a controller, I would have probably passed.
That all changed after having played the Pumpkin Jack demo on PC via Steam. Not only does Pumpkin Jack succeed (so far) without the need for a traditional controller, its whimsical art direction and enchanting audio design make it a must-play platformer this Halloween season – or any season, for that matter.
Pumpkin Jack puts players in the role of the titular character as he does the devil’s bidding to rid the cursed Boredom Kingdom of good. Along his journey, the Mythical Pumpkin Lord will encounter enemies and bosses to slay, puzzles to solve, and other characters who will help him on his adventure.
First and foremost, the platforming mechanics in Pumpkin Jack are spot on. From combat to the double-jump, Jack’s movements are fluid and feel great – even without a controller, which took me by surprise. This extends into the boss battle that concludes the demo, which was both challenging and fun, reminding me of the boss battles encountered in SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated.
Jack is able to melee enemies as well as use a ranged attack using his crow friend, which he can also use to knock down platforms that he’ll need to traverse as he makes his way through the world.
And what a world it is! Quite honestly, Boredom Kingdom is anything but boring. The art design is magical, looking like something straight out of Fable or the Trine series. This is complemented by a stellar soundtrack along with its overall audio design. The squishing noise that occurs when Jack separates his head from his body sounds as gross as it looks (that’s a good thing) as he makes his way around with his tentacles protruding from the bottom of his pumpkin head.
The highlight of the demo was the escape sequence in which Jack has to run out of a burning building, jumping from platform to platform and using all of his skills to survive. It was similar to the types of escape sequences found in the rebooted Tomb Raider trilogy, or Crash Bandicoot – the latter of which just so happens to get a not-so-subtle shoutout in the game.
The demo for Pumpkin Jack offers an early look at the game’s silly sort of spookiness, which is welcoming to players of all ages, regardless of the fact that you’re playing as, essentially, the bad guy. I personally can’t wait to see what the full release has in store. Thankfully, I won’t be waiting too long, as Pumpkin Jack will be available on October 23rd – just in time for Halloween.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the free playable demo available now on Steam.