Justin Wack & the big time hack Review. It is a timey wimey thing.

Something is brewing in the soup that is time. Someone has been messing around and the laws of the butterfly effect have started to take eff...

Something is brewing in the soup that is time. Someone has been messing around and the laws of the butterfly effect have started to take effect. Can you feel it? Is this what caused the Mandella effect? We can never be sure how messing with time can affect our world, but if it could provide you a second chance on a missed opportunity would you take it? To mend a broken relationship? To try for that other job, to invest in that tech company? 

Justin Wack& the big time hack is a point and click adventure game giving its own spin to the gameplay from games such as Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Maniac Mansion, Broken Sword, and other classics.
In the story Justin, the title character is still trying to get over his breakup with the blue haired Julia when an unforeseen microwave accident opens a random time portal that ends up leaving him back in the Stoneage while a caveman named Kloot warps back to the future (or is that present?) taking Justins place. Turns out that during this part of the Stoneage dinosaurs were still very much alive and talking, while humans were still grunting and playing in the sand while closely monitored by the dinosaurs. Not a place Kloot would like to go back to and not a place Justin wants to stay. This provides an opportunity for Justin to create a world where he and Julia never broke up and where Kloot can be safe. In the mean while all this unauthorized time travel has alerted ruthless robots from the future who closely monitor any rogue time altering and wipe them from existence, after a good interrogation session of course. Justin and his friends need to work hard to make things right. The game becomes a time traveling puzzle where you will try to find a way back home for Justin, a place safe from dinosaurs for Kloot and a future without robot dominance for the future.

Ay Caramba!

The game features sleek character designs and animations that have a modern cartoon style to that feature lots of color and presence. There are usually no problems understanding what it is you are looking at. (Remember those pixelated days, wondering what that purple blob is supposed to be?) It is however not apparent what you can interact with until you hover the mouse pointer over it (or press the space bar to show hotspots), and you get presented with an icon or multiple icons indication if you can look at, interact with or pick up the item. The icons are very intuitive, especially to people who have played these games before. Your inventory appears top right of the screen and if you right click you can get a description of an item that could clue you in on its properties and how it could be used. You can also click and drag items on top of each other to try to combine them or drag them onto other hotspots and try to make something happen.

As often with these games the puzzles are presented as obstacles to overcome and can be solved with logic and often some creative thinking. I will refrain from giving any puzzles away from the game to let you discover them all for yourself. But you will soon discover there are lots of items that won't be needed any time soon and will sit in your inventory until the end of the game. However, every item has a use, and if the use is done then it will disappear from you inventory to prevent confusion and inventory clutter.

Justin Wack & the big time hack does not hide the love for the classics that inspired it, and it shines throughout the game. It does so however, without relying on those games or straight out copying them. The look and feel of the game give a great vibe of the golden era of adventure games and the Kickstarter even garnered attention and backing by Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert, who has been in the news recently as well himself as he is getting ready to unleash a new Monkey Island Adventure to the world. 

The game is fully voice acted and comes with a music track and sound effects to bring to world to life. Overall, the voice acting is well done, but I was not a big fan of the robot's voices/accent myself as it just never felt right to me. The voice acting even carries over to the build in hint system. Yes the game comes with a hint system that looks at your progress and slightly pushes ideas in how to move forward towards your goals without actually spelling out what to do. It is all presented by your own assistant Daela from the Warm Kitten team.
She can also direct you to discord or leave you to research for yourself on the internet. 
A hint feature like this is a welcome addition to prevent frustrations trying to make sense of what to do next. Feel free to ignore the hint option of course if you are confident in your own puzzle solving abilities and like a little challenge. I am a big proponent of option for all players and this part is well executed.

The puzzles in Justin Wack vary from super obvious to more convoluted and confusing. In part this is because you might already know what to do with an item, but it is just not time yet. This is all pretty common to games like this but in addition to that, Justin comes with a new mechanic to complicate things. Time Travel!
As you progress through the game you unlock characters and tools that you can use to manipulate time. For instance, you can plant a nut in the past and in the future, it will be a tree. Because there will be a lot of back and forth between times and characters, the devs were kind to make sure these are all easily executed from the inventory /UI system without having to go to different locations or watch complex animations each time. Just switch with a click of a button. Want to hand another character an item? just drag it to their portrait. No need to be in proximity. Due to the nature of back and forth jumping needed I was glad to see this implementation of the gameplay mechanic. There are some parts where you can make the wrong decision and "die" but after a small message on screen you get straight back to where you were to try again so you do not need to retrace all your steps since last save. 

Despite all the good things there were parts of the game the felt flat for me. The first part was the slow opening. It was confusing, sluggish and did not get me hyped for what was happening. A big problem with it, and throughout the game were the many moments the game would fade to black; a text would show like " After a long time messing around" and then come back to a slight scene change. This method of pushing the story forward could have been a way to fix the scene for the next puzzle or just to fix some writing issues, I am not sure but there were to many of them especially when there were a few in a row and I felt it interrupted the flow.

The other issue is the humor and storytelling do not always hit their mark and I feel could have done with some rewrites. The entire game plays out in three acts, and it takes a while to really pickup. I found that a little into the second act things started going in terms of story and gameplay as you really get to use the time travel part for puzzle solving and the story unfolds.

These minor gripes do not mean that Justin Wack & the big time hack is bad by any means, but it does hold it back from greatness. As it stands though it is a solid and fun entry into the point and click genre. I always have had a soft spot for these games as they have entertained me so much throughout the nineties and early two thousand's and I love myself a good puzzle adventure. With this game you will be entertained for at least 5-6 hours provided you solve all puzzles right away and listen to all dialogs, so the first playthrough will likely take a little longer for most.
The time mechanic was very well executed and the town design for each three time-parts (present, past and future) look great and showed a cool progression (or regression) of the town this takes place in.

Justin Wack & the big time hack is a solid adventure game with a successfully executed new time/space mechanic that hopefully can inspire more adventure games in the future.
The game could have used a bit more work on the writing, pacing and jokes but none of them are offensively bad, they just hold the game back from greatness.
In terms of puzzle difficulty, this is a very strong game for players new to the genre to start with. For those more seasoned players it is recommended to not show the hotspots and to not use the hint system for some extra challenge.
Justin Wack proves to be a fun distraction and timeless adventure to experience.

Game: Justin Wack & the big time hack
Publisher: Warm Kitten
Developer: Warm Kitten
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Platforms: Steam
Review Platform Steam
ESRB: N/A ( Geeks rating E10+)

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks 


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