If you’ve ever played an RPG, you’ve probably fallen prey to the siren song of pointlessly complex inventory management. Making sure you have exactly what you need, stacked in the most accessible and aesthetically pleasing way possible… and then fifty surplus healing items, because what if you need them?
Jack and Casie [official site] is fresh on Kickstarter (but already past its base funding goal) and turns inventory management into the whole game. Stack guns up top to attack, cram loot into storage, and find some time to cook a hot meal every now and then, even in the heat of battle. Watch the trailer and try out the prototype demo after the jump.
It is essentially Resident Evil 4’s Inventory Tetris expanded into a full game. Furry lass Casie and her friend, the storage-robot Jack, wander from left to right, tripping over random loot as it scrolls by on a conveyor belt. Playing as Jack the Bot, you pick items up, rotate and flip them, and try to fit them into your inventory, combining as appropriate – put food in frying pans, then put the pan on a heater to make dinner, for instance.
When enemies appear (which is most of the time) nothing about your UI changes – you’re not fighting, after all. You’re just arranging luggage. Casie has a Final Fantasy style active time bar determining when she next acts in battle, but how she acts is dependent on whatever item is first to hand, starting at the top left corner of your inventory. It’s your goal to make sure she has the right tool for the job, be it a shotgun, knife or a freshly cooked meal.
Spinning gear around and finding the best time and place to use it makes for an intense resource-management challenge, based on the demo I’ve been playing. On top of that, it’s just plain charming. The sprites are cute (even the faceless murderbots, somehow), and there’s just enough animation and sound to convey what’s going on without cluttering your puzzling space. Jack & Casie’s banter as they meander through the world is pleasant enough too, in a mild 90s TV anime sorta way.
Jack and Casie’s Kickstarter is already past its basic funding goal, so will likely be completed one way or another, but there are plenty of stretch goals yet possible. Most ambitious of them is a second loop to the game where you directly control Casie, managing her combat skills while Jack plays a secondary role. This lofty goal is asking for $80,000 and I hope that it’ll hit that target.
If nothing else, you should give the demo a try. It’s a little rough and buggy in places, but worth your time. Development is expected to continue until March 2019, if all goes to plan.