Halloween and Thanksgiving are a time for everything pumpkin, so it's only appropriate that we discuss this game. Solo developer Nicolas Messonnier and publisher Headup drop Pumpkin Jack on Steam, Nintendo Switch, and other platforms.

Browsing new and upcoming indie games is a habit that I’ll allow myself more often than I’d care to. I always have plenty of games to play, and sometimes it can feel like a burden to add more to my “to play” library. But as you’ve read, more often than not, I’m rewarded by my meticulous searching.

Pumpkin Jack Overview

Pumpkin Jack has the heart and soul of a passion project and that became even more apparent as the final credits roll and you’re greeted with a procession of concept art for a game that began its development way back in 2016 (yes, 2016 was a long time ago folks).

Solo developer Nicolas Messonnier’s slow development of the art design for Pumpkin Jack paid off in big ways, though. This is the kind of game that gets you in the seasonal spirit of things, as its spookily-themed characters and areas are Halloween through and through.

Game Plot

First, you have Jack himself, the pumpkin-headed trickster sent to Earth to hunt down and defeat a dark wizard that’s intent on saving the human race from the devil’s war of boredom. Along your brief journey, you're joined by a Kazooie-like crow that provides a bit of comic relief and random nervousness, an uppity owl that guides your way, and a horde of demons, human stragglers, and more-developed stag bosses that not-so-bar your path. Yeah, the game is pretty easy as combat never reached a challenging state at any point beyond maybe one practice round to figure out a stage boss’ patterns.

The real fun comes in simply taking in your environments, smirking along with the grunts and hoots that represent the characters’ chatting, and the platforming, and select mini-games.

But as easy it may be, Pumpkin Jack doesn’t feel cheap, as you’ll certainly die several times (I might have hit 40 deaths overall, mostly due to platforming errors and a few misses on the mine cart rides, the latter of which are hella-fun).

Throughout the first few hours of Pumpkin Jack’s mere six-or-so hours of playtime, the game elicits almost nothing but pure joy. But with only six levels to keep you firmly entrenched, it’s a shame that Pumpkin Jack loses its spark as it nears its end. The mini-games become a bit repetitive as the game literally makes you repeat the same ones more than once in select stages, and the ease with which combat is handled loses its luster as you settle in on your weapon of choice (you’ll unlock a new one at the start of each stage, but there’s really no reason to ever switch between them once you find your favorite).

Final Thoughts

Do I recommend Pumpkin Jack? Well, yes, but unfortunately Halloween is over and at $30.00, it’s a bit of a pricey pill to swallow. But there is a bit of a surprise for you Nightmare Before Christmas fans near the end of the game that will keep the holiday spirit of Pumpkin Jack relevant at least until January.

Maybe wait till next October and the inevitable discount.

Pumpkin Jack is available now on all major platforms.