My Name Is Jack Mills by Juhana Leinonen

Most of the time I really enjoyed this game; at others, it drove me up the wall. On the good side: well written, interesting story and I found myself genuinely wanting to know what was going to happen next. On the bad side: guess the verb, guess the author’s mind and keep consulting the walkthrough because there’s no other way to progress.

I reached a standstill not long into the game after finding myself unable to get into a room via a window. Turned out I was using the wrong verb. When I tried SMASH and it didn’t work (I was told that violence wasn’t the answer to this one), I resorted to the walkthrough and was advised that instead I need to BREAK the window. Turns out violence was the answer after all. Not long after this, within half a dozen moves in fact, I ran into a standstill again. Sometimes examining items will reveal everything you need to know, other times you need to read them as well. After this, I found myself playing the game with the walkthrough open alongside it because it was a lot less frustrating that way. This pretty much meant that I didn’t enjoy the game as much as I might have done otherwise, but struggling with unhelpful guess the verb problems isn’t my idea of fun anyway.

Later on, I found myself unable to progress any further when someone got in the back seat of my car. I couldn’t speak to them, examine them or interact with them in any way. I also couldn’t drive away or get out of the car. The walkthrough clued me into the correct command but it’s hard to imagine people would have figured it out on their own. (As it happens, there’s another command you’ll probably try instead of the one listed in the walkthrough, but I didn’t discover this until after I’d already checked the walkthrough and exclaimed “And how the heck was I supposed to figure that out?”)

The game switches from past to present tense quite often and without any apparent reason. I can’t say I really cared for it. Past tense certainly is more atmospheric, which in one way was good, but as it also made the rest of the game seem a little bland by comparison, it definitely had its downsides as well. The constant switching between perspectives was a little jarring, too.

For the most part, my character’s motivations in the game never really made much sense. The basic storyline is that a friend of yours has been arrested and you’ve gone down to the police station to speak to him about it. While there, he tells you that someone has stolen an item from him and asks you to get it back. Which you agree to do on the spot. This involves breaking and entering at one point, posing as someone else at another (in a meeting with a man who comes across as the kind of person who has ‘organised crime’ written all over him) and then off you go to photograph this someone and his girlfriend at the behest of his wife. All kinda dodgy and underhanded behaviour and I found it a bit hard to swallow that my character would just go along with it without some kind of better explanation being given than ‘helping a friend out’.

I’m tempted to knock a few points off here and there for the hassles I had with guess the verb and confusing commands, but when I finished the game (90% of the commands towards the end were entered directly from the walkthrough and no real attempt was made to ‘solve’ the puzzles in the proper way), I found that, problems aside, I’d actually enjoyed it. So the rating of 7 out of 10 stands.

7 out of 10