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Review: Wide Ocean Big Jacket

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Those were the best days of my life

Are you in the mood for a low-key, laid-back, stripped-down camping trip? What about a good-natured adventure game that's less about interacting with stuff and more about absorbing the atmosphere?

It's a specific question, I know, but I can't be the only one out here intrigued by Wide Ocean Big Jacket.

Wide Ocean Big Jacket has mean teens, lean teens, two-t-shirt teens.

Wide Ocean Big Jacket (Nintendo Switch [reviewed], PC)
Developer: Turnfollow
Publisher: Tender Claws
Released: February 4, 2020
MSRP: $7.99

This is one of those games that doesn't need a long-winded review. Truthfully, if you've seen the trailer for Wide Ocean Big Jacket, you know what you're getting into and whether or not it's up your alley.

It's a single-sitting story about a hyperactive middle-schooler, Mord, and her best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Ben, as they go camping near a beach. They're joined by two thirtysomethings – Aunt Cloanne and (Uncle?) Brad – who aren't quite sure what to make of the curious adolescents.

Wide Ocean Big Jacket constantly passes the baton between all four playable characters in a way that feels brisk but also organic. One moment, you might try and find the perfect bush to sneakily "pop a squat" in as Mord. Later, you'll birdwatch in the woods with Cloanne's binoculars. Ben brings a captivating scary story to life around the campfire. And Brad – Brad's simply doing the best he can.

This is a text-heavy game, but it doesn't feel that way while you're playing. The creator, Turnfollow, does a great job of blending go-at-your-own-pace moments of exploration with just-outlandish-enough dialogue. The environments are small, and there aren't very many, but they all have a big impact.

At first, I found Mord to be a bit too much, but her energetic quips and lack of filter are ultimately balanced out by the rest of the cast. The humor lands. Wide Ocean Big Jacket is unapologetically silly, but that silliness feels earned. At its core, there's a sense of humanity grounded in the real world.

The campout – the whole vibe, really – just radiates this care-free charm. It's cozy.

The stakes aren't high, and given how ridiculously high the stakes often are in video game stories, I appreciate the humble slice-of-life premise. Still, I would have liked to see a little more ambition – something to wrap a bow on an otherwise pleasant present. I ended Wide Ocean Big Jacket feeling good, and it resonates, but at the same time, it's not necessarily an experience that will stick with me.

I could play a lot more games in this exact style, though. I don't think we've seen the best of Turnfollow yet with Wide Ocean Big Jacket, but one thing's for sure: we need to see more from this team.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Wide Ocean Big Jacket reviewed by Jordan Devore

8

GREAT

Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
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Jordan Devore
Jordan DevoreCo-EIC   gamer profile

Jordan is a founding member of Destructoid and poster of seemingly random pictures. They are anything but random. Disclosure: I backed Double Fine Adventure and Awesomenauts: Starstorm on Kickst... more + disclosures


 


 


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