Who knew inventory management could be fun? Enter Jack and Casie.
No, seriously — who knew?
Have you ever played a game and thought to yourself, ‘Man, I love managing my inventory!’ If you have, you’re a masochist. In all of the games I have ever played, this aspect to gaming is inevitable but always a chore. From old, text-based MUDs to Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Fallout, Final Fantasy and Assassin’s Creed, inventory is ingrained into gaming from nearly the beginning. It stops the action, taking time to make sure you have space for loot or worse, needing to organize it. I dread to think how many hours I have wasted tidying digital, shiny loot into nice, organized compartments.
Then I played Jack and Casie and my world was blown wide open. Not only is the game exclusively about inventory management, but it combines RPG elements in a way that makes it delightful. Now I know that might be hard to believe, but there is just something that makes sense about this game and it clicks.
A couple of things to keep in mind before we start discussing features and gameplay: This game is currently on Kickstarter and the demo is just an example of how the game will work. Everything is subject to change, but the core idea of Jack and Casie is there and solid.
To rip straight from the developer, Jack and Casie is ‘about the misadventures of Jack, a walking talking superdimensional storage closet, and Casie, who can shoot a gun’. There are robots, guns, creatures, cooking, more guns, and a delightful, light anime style. You, the player, take the form of Jack, the big walking/talking storage box. Casie is your hero and takes care of all the action. Trying to discover where Jack came from, the duo take off for the capital in search of some answers. I am sure the story will be refined and mastered now that the game has reached full funding — and then some.
The gameplay is a mash-up of You Must Build a Boat and Diablo 2’s inventory system.(It’s hard to think of another example). Casie is your protector and the only one who is capable of taking any action. Jack holds all of her stuff and pulls it out for her when she needs it. As you move from area to area, you collect stuff lying on the ground by looting enemies and even crafting. The beautiful part is the way it all blends together and how hectic things can become.
Casie prefers using guns but guns all have different ammo types, and not all guns do the same type of damage to enemies. Each enemy may have a weakness or resistance to a specific type of damage. Some are weak to sniper rifles, SMGs, or something more personal. There are also melee weapons like axes, daggers, and big mechanical drills. Having two or more guns is optimal, but hard to maintain; Jack’s inventory is not that big. Plus you have to balance the loot you sell for money, ammo, food, and possible crafting recipes. This means you will constantly be under a barrage of quick, decision-making moments. Do you keep that gold chip for crafting or selling or do you take that sawed-off shotgun for a future fight?
Casie is far from invulnerable, as well. You need to take care of her during combat by crafting food that heals her. Cooking requires a pan to cook, then two or more ingredients and finally a portable stove to heat that pan on. It starts filling your inventory very quickly and I have barely touched upon the crafting. You can carry a fire extinguisher in case she gets burned. You can collect keys, drills, or hacksaws to open lockboxes. Everything has a use and takes up valuable space. The beauty of Jack and Casie is that while I had a blast playing the three-hour demo. I don’t know if I truly saw everything there was to see.
I barely scratched the surface of crafting. There was this huge gun I found that hinted it needed to be combined with something to work. I have no idea what. Some characters hinted at crafting with the scrap I found and sold. Perhaps I could mod my own guns or make better guns. Then I found some fish and a hair dryer. The possibilities of weird combinations seemed endless. This is what excited me as I constantly had to question if something had a hidden value waiting to be discovered.
I laughed so hard when I kept throwing grenades at enemies and watched Jack and Casie argue over why it wasn’t working. It was only until my third toss that Jack mentioned to pull the freaking pin first. Which led to it exploding inside the inventory, temporarily disabling Jack. I loved the banter and I couldn’t wait to see more, despite the fact that I found myself sadly focused more on combat and arranging items than being able to see what they were saying. This is one of the things I hope they do fix during development. (Voice acting, maybe?)
As you progress you visit towns, talk to NPCs and sell/buy loot at shops — all that good, yummy RPG stuff. To paraphrase Morpheus, unfortunately, no one can be told what Jack and Casie is. You have to see it for yourself. I’m kidding of course, but I do highly recommend playing the demo. It’s strange to describe how addictive and fun Jack and Casie truly is.
We will definitely be keeping an on eye on the developer and Jack and Casie as it goes through development here on Big Boss Battle. Now, I’m off to find out what that big gun was capable of and pick up all the trash I can!