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Jack Holmes: Master Of Puppets

Close the blinds, make the room nice and dark and grab yourself comfortable for a trip into the weird created by a solo dev, @TonyDevGame.

Master of Puppets begins in Jack’s house. You will be playing as Jack as you move around and get to grips with the way the game handles. Jack then receives an unexpected letter requesting his help in a missing persons case. This is where the normal parts of the game more or less end as you make your way toward a lone house in the woods, where the realm of normal quickly dissipates. 

Animal Crossing Stylised Village in Jack Holmes: Master Of Puppets

For a solo game developer, the game is beautifully macabre in all the right ways. The art style has that indie charm but with high-quality textures which was extremely impressive to see. The influences of games such as Resident Evil 7 and 8 are very apparent, which is not a bad thing as first-person survival horror is a personal favourite of mine that enables you to feel more in the throws of the horror. 

All the creatures and various enemy types you encounter have some fantastic designs to them. They dance the line between being obviously indie, but with a clear amount of work and love put behind them. 

Gorey Scene Of Corpse Hanging From A Metal Frame, Insides On Display in Jack Holmes: Master Of Puppets

As for the sound design, the developer has done some incredible work on this. From the sound designs of the creatures to the general ambient sounds and musical score, it’s really impressive when it’s all pulled together.

The biggest surprise for me was that there is actual voice acting within Master Of Puppets. It feels somewhere between a serious attempt and aiming for a little more on the campy side of horror titles that you would find back in early horror titles from the 90s.

Spider With Giant Eyeball As Body On The Wall in Jack Holmes: Master Of Puppets

Master Of Puppets’ gameplay is an interesting one. At a glance, it appears like they’ve taken most of the first-person horror cues that Resident Evil 7 did and you can definitely feel where its inspiration has come from. You are given very minimal direction with a lot of “work-it-out-yourself” sensibilities here. Most of the time the puzzles and the solution make it fairly obvious what is expected of you to pass the specific problem in front of you. Other times however, the solutions feel like a puzzle in themselves to get the clue to solve the actual puzzle in front of you leading to Eureka moments which toe the line between being fantastic and infuriating. 

Dreamlike looking living room in Jack Holmes: Master Of Puppets

As Master Of Puppets is a survival horror, you will naturally have weapons, med packs and ammo to manage while you work to solve the mysteries before you. With some decent planning and smart decisions these resources can last you longer than you may think they will, but therein lays the challenge of this genre.

One of the drawbacks of ammo management is the gunplay. At times it felt like the guns didn’t always seem to hit the mark that I was targeting, and that includes aiming down the sights. Practise could surely help with this, but with limited ammo, it leaves little room for error.

Murder Scene In A Bedroom With Occult Imagery In Jack Holmes: Master Of Puppets

Among the parts of Master Of Puppets that I enjoyed, my personal favourite part was never really knowing where it’s going to take you. By the time you start getting used to the current enemy and environments, and you think you know what you’re dealing with, the game spins you for a loop with new enemy types, locales and wild tone shifts. For this alone, I fully recommend that you play Master Of Puppets without looking at too deeply into it before playing to keep all the surprises fresh for your play-through. 

As much fun as I’ve had with this and how impressed I was playing it (saying to myself often, wow this is a solo dev), it’s not without some flaws and there. It’s nothing too offending, but there are some minor control niggles. Things sometimes feel a little sluggish or slow responding, and certain lighting effects often felt a little too dark in an almost needless fashion causing vision when playing even in midday light to be slightly difficult. 

Children's Toys Covered In Blood in a basement in Jack Holmes: Master Of Puppets
Puppet Enemy Type Walking Down Hallway Towards Player in Jack Holmes: Master Of Puppets

Now as someone who hates puppets/mannequins (it’s a peculiar thing to hate but they just creep me out), I was admittingly a little hesitant going into Master Of Puppets. However, I’m not one to shy away from a horror game or a challenge and I’m glad I didn’t because this title got me more times than I’d like to admit. The jump scares along with the ambience hit in all the right ways. For a solo developer to make a game that got under my skin more than some triple-A titles have was impressive. 

Jack Holmes: Master Of Puppets is definitely worth your time if you’re a horror fan. Enjoy a wild ride that’s not too heavy on your wallet.

8/10 star rating

Developer: @TonyDevGame

Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X and Series 

Publishers: @TonyDevGame, Perpetual Europe





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