Sink your teeth into the glitzy world of opera, theatre and dance in our Jack Jeanne review.
Jack Jeanne is an otome game, (a genre which focuses story, usually a love plot – with very little/no gameplay). However, what splits it apart from others in the genre is that it also features a decent amount of interactive elements that bring it closer to an actual game. (No shade here, I love the genre so much, but it’s an interactive storybook, not a sweat soaked button mashing extravaganza).
First released in Japan in March of 2021, Jack Jeanne was finally released to an English speaking audience on June 15th of 2023, published by Aksys for the Nintendo Switch. Prepare to lose yourself in its glamorous world in our review!
Jack Jeanne Review – Story
The basic premise is this – Kisa Tachibana always wanted to pursue a career in the preforming arts, specifically a top-class academy called Univeil Drama School. Ambition is passion, right? However, her dreams are dashed with the very real impediment of her gender, Univeil only allowing male would-be actors. That is a big whoops for our heroine.
Frills, heels and suits! My favourite.
But a chance encounter with the principal of the school changes her fate, allowing her entry on two strict conditions, 1) be chosen as the main lead in the final performance and 2) keep her identity as a female on the down low. This kind of Shakespearean gender swapping pizazz, as well as an introduction to the sphere of acting is such a fun concept which was so down my personal alley.
If you think the above premise of fierce rivalry, ambitious hormone-soaked teens, drama-drama, as well as learning about acting sounds like a fun time, you’re in for a ride. As is usual for otome games, you have a common route, which is you, playing as Kisa, run through the main plot, but during this you make key story decisions that lead you down individual paths with the six male romanceable characters.
This six guys + Kisa are made into a cohort (a mini acting troupe, essentially) that collaborate on performances together. (Kisa also gets her own personal route, so make that seven routes in total) Our six The Bachelortm contestants are… *drumroll*
- Suzu Orimaki – the golden retriever man
- Soshiro Yonaga – the childhood friend
- Mitsuki Shirota – a softer tsundere archetype
- Sarafumi Takashina – the charmer
- Kai Mutsumi – Mr. selfless
- Kokuto Neji – a ball of complete chaos.
The plot is well written, with a slice-of-life feel, as the basic focus is on Kisa and her group of guys prepping for a stage performance for each season, showing off the trials that they go through to make each a success. The plotline itself isn’t complex, (you’ll find no mixing of timelines or epic battles) but the character work done here is fleshed out, allowing you to get invested. It’s fairly light in the romance department, with the growing bond between the cohort, the intricacies of stagecraft, and Kisa’s quest for identity being the focal points.
Jack Jeanne Review – Gameplay
Most otome games tend to be text heavy, with the only “gameplay” (the air quotes are written with much love, I assure you) elements being able to choose dialogue options to go down different branching story paths, similar to a chose your own adventure books you’d maybe have read as a child. Jack Jeanne does have some RPG-esque elements as a supplement to the long story. You attend classes on school days, and are able to socialise on the weekend. During the weekend you can jump around on a map, letting you see which characters and unlockable events are available.
During the week, you can choose an element of stagecraft you’d like to improve, such as singing, agility, dancing, etc. You can get points to improve a stat, these stats being attached to a specific guy. The more you level up a stat (called a parameter in the game), the higher the affection rating for one of the men grows, giving you a higher chancer you get of entering into one bachelor’s specific route. If you do too much stat building, you start running out of health, which then causes you to possibly fail an activity. These stat building system also affects how well you do in each performance.
There’s a second part to the interactive gameplay, and that is the rhythm minigames. These are split into two sections, dancing and singing, with three difficulty levels. For newcomers to rhythm games (AKA me) it was challenging, but I’ve heard that it’s not too hard for veterans. Still, it acts as a fun break from lengthy story segments.
Jack Jeanne Review – Presentation
One of the games massive selling points it it’s beautiful artwork spearheaded by none other than Sui Ishida. He’s known for his horror/urban-fantasy works in the comics scene, Tokyo Ghoul being his most popular work, using a darkly sexy style with watercolours and abstract space to create a moody atmosphere. However, in Jack Jeanne he’s changed to a softer style to better suit a more tender story. His art is still stunning here, and a real draw for the game.
Jack Jeanne follows a brilliant cast of ambitious, strong characters with a gorgeous art style to match. Those who are not usually fans of otome games might be inclined to give it a try, as it does have light gameplay elements borrowed from RPGs and rhythm games.
So, why should you play Jack Jeanne?
- You love the drama of performing arts, baby
- Character-focused tales of group bonding during school make you nostalgic
- Beautiful art from Sui Ishida will dazzle your eyes
- Snippets of gameplay add more flavour to the overall experience
But why shouldn’t you play Jack Jeanne?
- You like to go hard or go home with the gameplay
- Character-focused stories are not your jam
- Teenage hopes and dreams are too sickly sweet for you
A review code was kindly provided by Aksys Games for the purpose of our Jack Jeanne review! If you enjoyed this review and want to explore visual novels, check out our Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei review and join us on the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about your favourites!