My vote for the “best game name ever devised” award, Jacks or Better to Murder, Aces to Win is a fresh and original game from J.D. Berry, one of my favorite “underdog” IF designers of our time. The game placed 10th in the 5th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition, but in my opinion deserves much better. |
Simply put, Jacks or Better is a spy thriller, but it’s unlike any other spy game. The game casts you as a high-ranking authority in a fictional religion, who is plotting for – what else – more power while trying to uncover and foil your enemies’ plans to assassinate you. Unlike Adam Cadre’s excellent Vericella, however, Jacks or Better is much more story-oriented—many times the game will present long “cut scenes” during which you can do nothing, but these are all very well written and funny to boot. In keeping with the storytelling focus, there is only a handful of puzzles to solve, none of which should pose any problems to IF beginners.
My only gripe with the game is that there is virtually no character interaction, even though many interesting characters are introduced during the cut-scenes. Still, given the game’s presentation and focus, this is not a major issue. All in all, Jacks or Better to Murder, Aces to Win is a great game that is recommended for anyone who likes Infocom’s Border Zone or spy thrillers in general. The hilarious sermon in the beginning scene alone is well worth a download ;) Highly recommended.
Reviewed by: Underdogs