Jack of All Tribes Deluxe Review
- Appealing casual style; basic touch controls, intelligent/automatic AI.
- Charming 2D graphics; invokes shades of The Settlers with a new spin.
- Special hidden object levels break up the repetitious gameplay.
- Limited depth; early strategies rarely require modification later in the game.
- Oddly abrasive main character.
Jack of All Tribes mixes RTS elements of multitasking with casual gaming elements of manually performing tasks to come up with something quick and engaging without the need to wait for 8 hours between turns.
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Trying to untangle the weaved mess that is the birth and growth of certain sub-genres of games can be a daunting task, especially when popular casual titles take to mixing RTS, Strategy and Puzzle elements (along with a dash of luck) in order to create their addicting gameplay. Things get even more complicated when you begin to ponder a game like Jack of All Tribes by G5 Entertainment and Divo Games as it could easily be considered a casual RTS in the style of games like The Settlers, but familiar casual gaming tropes like manually harvesting food and resources gives it an edge that could all-too-easily be mistaken for a 'free' Facebook game.
Thankfully players won't be waiting 2 minutes for their strawberries to ripen as this game is all about efficiency and working against the clock to make each tribe you visit happy and self-dependent. Orders are carried out intelligently and automatically by the various tribesman at your disposal, requiring only a tap on an object to provide an order such as harvesting wood, carrying gold or riding the pet dinosaur that protects the village. More workers can be earned by creating huts in the predetermined slots available in each level, though you'll need to balance the increase in mouths with the resources you have available as each tribesman will need food to stay active.
Each level presents a small series of challenges, be it to upgrade some of the houses to beautify the landscape or to pay off a greedy shaman holding you to ransom for some much-needed rain. Occasionally this leads to unlocking hidden areas where you'll have to play a quick hidden-object challenge to earn special items that boost the abilities of your tribesman (reducing their need for food, speeding them up as they run around, etc.). Later levels can seriously test your ability to quickly manage all the small tasks that need to be covered, but at worst a slower player will simply find themselves missing out on getting a star on completion.
Watching the little tribesman perform their various duties while constantly changing their outfits to suit the occasion is amusing and while there aren't a lot of fancy effects, the 2D sprites do a good job of conveying important information as quickly as possible. There are some overlapping issues on busier stages that can cause you to cancel or start an upgrade when you don't require it, but this rarely, if ever, affects the outcome of a level.
Jack of All Tribes is an entertaining distraction that may test your multitasking skills, but despite invoking RTS elements it lacks any real strategic elements to the gameplay. There's something addictive about quickly and methodically clearing each stage despite the lack of challenge, making it a great choice for those after a light title to eat up those choice spare moments in their day.