Capsule Review: Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

A 3D platformer in the mold established by Super Mario 64 (a series of hub areas with multiple non-linear levels each with several objectives that can be tackled in various orders but a certain number of objectives that is fewer than the number available must be completed to gain access to the next part of the hub with the next set of levels) but that evolves the formula to incorporate more story, character development, and world-building. The game takes place in a single continuous world and there are dialog scenes establishing character motives and contextualizing the various objectives along the way.

Levels vary in both setting and gameplay - the standard snow/cave/jungle/etc. environments are all accounted for and most must be traversed via platforming, though there are also some levels where you must remain on your hoverbike-like “zoomer”. Jak’s moveset gives him a lot of mobility, and while he also has a handful of attacks and some objectives involve combat, it’s clearly not the game’s emphasis and even attacks have non-combat uses (Jak’s downward slam breaks open most crates and activates certain buttons while his spin attack is essentially a triple jump). Many objectives are platforming or exploration challenges, several require skillful riding of the zoomer, and some involve one-off mechanics such as herding animals or catching fish. Outside of a few survival gauntlets, combat is mostly just something you do along the way of doing something else and even the three boss fights (one of which is optional) are more about avoiding threats and platforming under time pressure than directly attacking the enemy.

The game’s tone is consistently light-hearted and cartoony with a strong sense of humor that manages to avoid becoming obnoxious. Dialog scenes run a bit longer than necessary, especially given the story’s simplicity and number of characters who only exist to put a face an a particular objective. It’s roughly a ten-to-fifteen hour experience and both the challenge and punishment stay fairly low, especially given that most individual challenges are optional. As such, it’s well suited for younger players or those less experienced with 3D platformers (it was the game that got me into the genre).

Overall, the game is charming and fun with a warm and colorful world that’s satisfying to explore. I’ve played it many times and every time I have a blast conquering each level’s varied challenges.

I Stopped Playing When: I have 100%’d this game several times and return to do so again every few years. It’s an old friend I’m always happy to revisit.

Docprof's Rating:

Five Stars: Favorite. This is one of my all-time favorite games that made a significant impact on me or that I've returned to time and again.

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