Jolly Rover Review
At first glance, Jolly Rover looks similar to the point-and-click adventure series, Monkey Island, except all of the characters have been replaced with dogs. Although Jolly Rover draws inspiration heavily from those games, it still has enough charm and personality to stand on its own.
The game stars a happy-go-lucky Dachshund named Gaius James Rover, a sailing merchant who becomes tangled up with pirates. After having his cargo stolen, and himself captured, the pirates still deliver the cargo, but now Gaius (nicknamed Jolly Rover after his father who was a clown), is in debt to the governor for not bringing the cargo himself. This predicament starts a full-on adventure that sends Jolly from the pirate ship to a cannibal island run by man-hating female dogs. There’s even time for a little undead resurrection along the way.
Using the single-click feature from the Monkey Island remakes, it plays like any standard adventure game. You can use items, look, grab and manipulate objects without having to manually switch between cursor functions.
Every scene is infused with absurd humor. One such scene has Jolly Rover stuck in the cargo hold of a pirate ship trying to figure out a way to escape. The room is filled with tools for escape, but of course, you need something to pry open the box of crowbars, skeleton keys are made of brittle bones, and somebody scratched the first two letters off the escape kit. Who needs a cape at a time like that?
Jolly Rover has a few tricks to help you when you’re stuck. Each clickable item is subtitled in blue when Jolly has something new to say about it. Press the space bar and each clickable item brightly lights up. This helps the player see everything they can interact with, just in case they missed something.
When solving puzzles, Jolly has a parrot companion, Juan, who gives hints on how to solve puzzles. The first time he is asked about one, he will respond in a vague rhyme that contains clues. Give him a cracker and he responds with a more descriptive clue. Give him another and he will practically give you an instruction manual.
Every character is fully voiced and brimming with personality, which makes it easier to care about the most minor of characters. Likewise, the same attention to detail went into level-design. Whether you’re in the pirate ship full of scattered empty rum bottles, mugs, and cannon balls, or the vibrant but deadly cannibal island, with sparkly lagoons and hidden traps, each environment has a personality of its own.
Despite including modern advancements of the genre, Jolly Rover can’t escape some old pitfalls. Traveling from scene to scene can be utterly annoying, especially when you have to backtrack and watch Jolly plod through screen after screen. The option to make walking speed faster is present, and appreciated, but a quick travel feature would be the icing on the cake. A pen and paper is essential unless you have amazing memory, but would be unnecessary with in-game notes.
With the witty banter, humorous storyline, and excellent cast of characters, Jolly Rover manages to create an identity of its own.