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Jack the Ripper

Score: 60%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: The Adventure Company
Developer: The Adventure Company
Media: CD/2
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The year is 1901 and a maniac is terrorizing the citizens of New York City. With each killing, new clues emerge, clues that point to the return of Jack the Ripper. You play the role of James Palmer, a reporter hot on the trail of this story. Could Jack the Ripper be on the loose in New York at the turn of the century? Well, there's only one way to find out.

Visually, Jack the Ripper does a lot of the big things right but manages to slip on some of the smaller details, some of which end up affecting the gameplay. The graphics, which combine rendered scenes and 3D characters, are one of the game's strong points. The sense of environment presented in the game is really good. Old time posters and well... old time everything fills up the game world and gives it an authentic feel. The only thing missing is old time people. Though you do run into a fair number of people (mostly prostitutes) during your adventure, the streets of New York seem just a little too empty. And, the people you do see are always going about the same duties and can be found in the same spot every day. This doesn't outright kill the game, but it takes away from some of the atmosphere it seems the developers were trying to create and reminds you that the otherwise deep and detailed backdrops are static renders. One noticeable problem I found with the graphics occurs when you begin searching for clues. 3D objects, which include every clue in the game, stand out a little too well against the rendered backdrops. This takes some of fun out of investigating since you know everything you're supposed to pick up in a room.

The voice work is top notch and helps to build on the game's atmosphere. Each of the characters you meet has their own quirks and personalities that really fit the time period. There's no real soundtrack to the game, other than the ambient sounds found in each area. Sounds play just as much of a part in the game as visuals do as far as investigation goes and can offer clues as to where to investigate next.


Much of the game is spent traveling to various locations, such as crime scenes and picking through clues. Due to incompetent police work, many clues are left behind. While most clues revolve around simply picking out all the brightly colored objects in each scene, a few of them come in the form of puzzles. Other actions you can perform include interviewing witnesses and revisiting previously investigated areas. As with most investigations, a lot of backtracking is involved while trying to discover the identity of the killer. It should go without saying that tedium settles in pretty early and it becomes a chore to work your way through the game. At least the story keeps you in the game.

As a reporter for a competing New York newspaper, it's your job to piece together the clues of a string of murders that have been occurring in New York City. The game's narrative is engaging, and well done but just a tad too predictable at times. Cut scenes are well done and some are a little on the shocking side, but we are talking about Jack the Ripper, so it all fits. As you get closer to solving the mystery, Jack will even begin to take an interest in you and start sending you little gifts from his crimes. This helps to draw you a little deeper into the story.

Although the game is clearly termed a point-and-click adventure, the game actually plays more like an interactive movie. Jack the Ripper does a good job of making you feel like you're doing something, but what you do holds no bearing on the outcome of the story. There are not branching paths and the investigations always lead you to the same place. As hard as I tried, there is simply no way to screw up the investigation. The game would have been so much more interesting and rewarding if you had to piece together the clues yourself and solve the mystery instead of having the story dictate it.


The overall structure of Jack the Ripper is pretty straightforward. Each scenario is divided into days, which will only end when you've done everything there is to do. This makes it impossible to miss clues or puzzles. This leads to the game's interactive movie feeling. The aforementioned puzzles are few and far between, and the ones that are there are pretty easy. Some do, however, manage to provide some entertainment but there simply aren't enough of them.

Game Mechanics:

Given the simplicity of Jack the Ripper's interface, one would hope that it would work flawlessly. While this is true for the most part, it is not as smooth as it should be. As you move the cursor around the screen, it will change in order to indicate it's near something of interest. Clicking on the object proves difficult at times because you sometimes have to hit just the right pixel in order to investigate the item. This proves frustrating and can ruin the game. Traveling between locations is easy; you simply right-click on the mouse to bring up a map and then click on the desired location. Unlocking new locations is a little complicated at first, but once you know what to do, it's easy. Once at a location you can move around by clicking arrows and look around by moving the cursor to the screen edges.

Jack the Ripper is a decent game, but one that probably won't appeal to more than a small fraction of the general gaming audience. The lack of variety or any sense of challenge or danger hampers the game's replay value. This isn't a game you can replay multiple times. It shows potential, but falls far short of meeting it.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:

Pentium III 500 MHz or equivalent (Pentium IV 800 MHz recommended); 64 MB RAM (128 MB RAM recommended); 16x CD-ROM (32x CD-ROM recommended); 16 MB video card (32 MB video card recommended)

Test System:

Windows XP; Pentium 4 1.7 GHz; Radeon 9100 128 MB; 40 Gig HD; 640 MB RAM

Windows Indiana Jack Windows Law and Order II: Double or Nothing

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated