IFReviewed by Andrew Plotkin on 2006-07-01 04:20
Interesting work here. The author is packing a complete (if short) conventional story in, as the subtitle implies. All the characters are fully developed, including the protagonist.
This leads to a fairly wide disparity. The player's path is a set of simple and well-clued actions. The protagonist's story is a mess of scheming, plotting, considering the strengths and weaknesses of the other characters, remembering scenes and facts from childhood -- all of this boiling down to just a few actions, which are what the player does.
On the one hand, this means rather a lot of info-dumping and "you think... you realize..." The writing isn't strong enough to make this enjoyable on its own. And there's an inevitable sense of disjunction. In the ending, for example, the protagonist pulls some terrific sneakiness, but the player has nothing to do with it; the only command that was parsed was "go north".
On the other hand, the dumped information and the sneakiness are interesting (even if not brilliantly rendered as prose). And the underlying story ideas are excellent. The player is involved in some of the plot, just not all of it. "Jacks" represents an impressive approach to putting IF together; we should experiment more with it.