Jack the Ripper
Set in 1901, this saga of Jack the Ripper’s fictitious move from London to New York is at least intriguing. While the game focuses on imaginary additions to the real Jack the Ripper case, its historical documents are well researched and lend credibility to the game without bogging it down. As a New York newspaper reporter, you visit a famed detective agency to peruse its files and are made privy to police-report findings of that era, plus you do some investigating on your own.
Yes, the in-game police work is good, but as far as interactivity with the environments or detailed cut-scenes go, there’s nothing to see here. Unfortunately, instead of having most of its plot points triggered by puzzles you solve, the game’s story largely progresses on its own. This makes it feel more like a point-and-click movie than a game, as there are only about six notable puzzles here.
When tiny cut-scenes do appear, you may appreciate their brevity, as they tend to hang with repetitive sound loops or freeze altogether. The static, mostly puzzle-bereft backdrops will bother you even more, though—there is little to do in many areas except pick up paperwork or ask a few questions of a particular interviewee. The plethora of engaging NPCs speak in heartfelt tones that do enhance the tale and make these interviews pleasant enough, but none are fleshed out as much as they could be.
Jack the Ripper features low-res, slightly blurry graphics similar to some of The Adventure Company’s other node-based point-and-clickers such as Mystery of the Mummy and Post Mortem. Despite this, Ripper’s backgrounds do feature a lot of ambient details—unfortunately, you can’t do much with them. Moreover, even if you tolerate Ripper’s lack of interactivity because of its swiftly paced, absorbing story, the game’s anticlimactic, unsatisfying finale will leave you feeling as frustrated as those original London police were back in 1888.
Verdict 2/5 Stars
A good Ripper story butchered by bugs, feeble puzzles, and a bad ending.
Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Computer Gaming World.