JJ-kun

[REVIEW] JustAxe

Saving the world by chopping woods.

A platformer’s success or failure is decided by its gameplay and whether or not it can go on par with multiple other AAA titles of the same genre. While the game is acknowledging this, it made sure to just be a chill, fun, and easy to swallow kind of game. It made sure that it’s a game you can play whenever just to cool down… but the game actually made me quite frustrated. 


This is JJ-kun and this is my review of JustAxe.

JustAxe is a 2D platformer game developed by Supergalactic Gamedev and published by Targem Games. It’s a short game that does not take itself too seriously. Perhaps that’s what Supergalactic Gamedev wants to achieve as their prior game is a game that takes only about 15 minutes to finish, but we’re here to talk about JustAxe.

In the world of JustAxe, a portal out-of-nowhere pops up which lets monsters from other dimensions invade your world. As these monsters were successful in colonizing your world, they made humans their slaves, stole food, and ultimately demanded tributes…or human sacrifices if you wanna call it that. As it progresses, you, as Martha, and your sister make your way to the woods as monsters are barely there. Unfortunately, the time came when they went to the woods and you had nothing so they took away your precious sister. Now it’s up to you to save your sister… or honestly the world because you were prompted by a flying butterfly that delivered a message detailing how to get rid of all the monsters.

 

The story was a pretty straightforward one and one that didn’t beat around the bush. That’s just it. You are prompted to get rid of the monsters and Martha just said, “okay.” Honestly, it wasn’t really much of a hook either but it is what it is. As previously mentioned, it’s a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously so there’s quite a lot of goofy moments in the game which just stretches the game.

Playing the game reminded me of children’s storybooks because of its vibrant world and colorful presentation. Regardless of where you are, you will get the feeling of what the level is located while making itself look as childish as possible. Furthermore, aside from the character art, what I liked the most is the asset designs because everything really blended well with the world. I’ll say it again, it’s like a video gamified children’s storybook.

 

If there’s anything that the artstyle reminded me of, it would be Patapon and that’s a compliment too.

This is one of the areas where the game fell off for me. The sound effects of the game were not really impactful to the game nor does it have the kind of heaviness in one that you’ll hear in other games. Perhaps the game would have been better with sound effects that has weight in it. Furthermore, the background music that is playing is a repeating one; one in loop which, by itself, is fine, but my problem lies on how similar the music being played are. Upon writing this review, the only significant time that I remember that there was an impactful background music change was during the final level and I wrote this review thinking the background music didn’t change so I had to double check, of course; it did change, but the difference wasn’t dynamic enough to be potent. Add to this, the music is played in a loop for long periods of time—more on this later. By the time you finish a level, you’d be done with the background music, as unfortunate enough as it is.

How you play the game is actually pretty basic, much like any other platformer games. This one does not have any gimmicks though so it’s pretty bare bones. In place of the absence of gameplay gimmicks are the puzzles. It’s simple enough that even a child can solve it. It’s just grab the key on another room to open this door or chop this wood to create a bridge or something like that. Nothing special, really.

 

What I didn’t like about the gameplay are only two things: the enemy monsters and the level design. See, with the enemy monsters, there wasn’t really any variety. If I remember correctly, aside from the bosses, there’s only less than your fingers can count. Not even a palette change on an enemy monster was done to indicate a more difficult version of a monster, since there wasn’t really any more difficult monster to begin with—aside from bosses. Furthermore, it was quite annoying how the enemy monsters deal TOO MUCH damage to you while knocking you back on each hit and yet the HP drops they drop heals not even a fraction of your health. To add to that, there’s not really a lot of potion in the game scattered in the level. The saving grace that they implemented is to put multiple checkpoints, much like in Sonic games. And speaking of levels, remember what I said earlier? The music is looped for long periods of time because of how long the levels are which made it by far what I didn’t like the most in the game. See, if you play games like Sonic or Mario, it will take you 2-5 minutes max in a level, but this game will take about 14 to 20 minutes per aboveground levels and portal levels about 5 to 10 minutes depending if you just rush towards the end of the level or not which made it a drag. Perhaps, segmenting it to multiple levels would’ve helped like other platformer titles. 

 

What’s good about it is at least it gives you somewhat of a freedom to choose which path to take to get to the end, much like in Classic Sonic games. Keyword: somewhat. Also, what I appreciate the most about this game is how it does not hold your hand, especially if there’s new unlocked features, the game will just briefly tell you about it and let you explore that feature yourself. The levels also reflect the application usage of new features and you wouldn’t be able to progress without a degree of mastery over the new features that you’ll unlock. That is a good point for me as games nowadays are always, and if not heavily, hand holding players to the point that the game just spoon feeds almost the entire thing… definitely not looking at Pokemon.

 

Can I just add, without going into too much detail, I hated the final boss as the gameplay in that section didn’t rely on your skills or mastery of the gameplay but more on luck. Sure there’s the pattern of the attacks of the final boss, but it also included luck on the RNG of the attacks… and then one mistake and you’ll end in a stunlock. If you don’t know what it is, it’s the moment where you can’t do anything but eat each and every attack of the final boss, and remember what I said earlier again? The damage that you take from the enemies are far too heavy.

 

Levels-wise, I’m actually pretty glad that there’s only 8 levels and you can pretty much finish the game in just 2 to 3 hours.

The game is priced at ₱370.00 and for that price, I’d say it isn’t too bad. For a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and one that just wants itself to be what it is, I’d say that’s a fine price tag to the game. It’s not too long and yet not too short either. Just enough to cleanse your palette to take on a new game… or as a breather from other titles.

It’s a fun, chill game, one that is aware of what it is. I don’t know if I’ll recommend it since I myself didn’t find the game to be that good, but it’s not bad either. There’s points that I applaud it for and areas that made me dissatisfied. For me, JustAxe is just OK.

 

THE GOOD

THE BAD

Easy and simple to play

Vibrant visuals

Great narrative presentation

May be frustrating to play

Long-stretched out levels

Music and SFX is not impactful

SCORE

BREAKDOWN

7.4

  

Story

8

Graphical Delivery

9

Music

6

Gameplay

7

Content Value

7

Great

  

REVIEWED ON PC

REVIEW COPY IS PROVIDED BY KEYMAILER

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THE GOOD

THE BAD

SCORE

8.7

Excellent

BREAKDOWN

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