"All you can do is try your best." Such is the tagline for the second game from Ghost Time Games, Jettomero: Hero of the Universe. Jettomero follows a clumsy, well-intentioned robot as it attempts to save the universe, and its clear that developer Gabriel Koenig has drawn heavily from comic books for his inspiration. Through astoundingly beautiful solar systems and well-produced music, you'll explore the dreamlike universe in a quest to find out who you really are, and what your purpose is. While its runtime is criminally short, Jettomero ultimately ends up a wholly meditative experience.
Far in the future, humanity is on the brink of existence. Pushed back by an unknown, nearly unstoppable alien race, humans create massive, nigh-unkillable weapons to defend themselves with. Jettomero is one such weapon, though nowhere near as adept as intended. Waking up alone and lacking any memories, you set out across the universe, collecting fuel and discovering snippets of humanity's and your history.
The core gameplay loop involves exploring planets to find fuel, new cosmetic parts, or an enemy to do battle with. Upon encountering another monstrous foe, you engage in a laser-powered tug of war and undergo a quick QTE sequence a few times, before destroying the "invader." After vaporizing the boss, you can solve a cryptogram puzzle to unlock more story sections before blasting off into space through a wormhole and repeating the cycle again. There are no more than a few planets in every solar system, and you can leave as soon as you defeat the "boss" of the area, but you're welcome to explore the other planets in the system.
Jettomero isn't complex by design, but it doesn't have to be. There's an undeniable grace to its space piloting, and a charm to its movement. In the reaches of space, there's a sense of serenity when flying around and listening to the soundtrack. On the ground, Jettomero controls about as gracefully as a college student during Oktoberfest, stumbling, tripping, and crashing his way through cities and nature alike. He may fashion himself as a "Hero of the Universe," and he definitely tries to live up to the self-awarded title, but its clear that Jettomero is anything but.
Our lumbering hero apologizes, again and again, for obliterating cities, even when they're firing missiles and sending wave after wave of vehicles after him. There's something oddly hilarious about pulverizing a small metropolis just to put out a single burning building, and declaring it a "job well done." There are volcanoes, planetary moons, asteroids, comets, and more to destroy with your impossibly hard body, and again, it's all great fun. Jettomero clearly has a big sense of empathy to fit his oversized body, and it pays off.
Jettomero's music too evokes a sense of wonder. Drawing from the likes of Boards of Canada, Tycho, and Jon Hopkins, the downtempo music is calming, yet conveys a sense of outer space. The atmosphere established by the visuals is only further reinforced by the heavy use of synths, occasional beats, and overall chilled-out tone to the music. The 20 song soundtrack means you're unlikely to encounter the same song twice, and is another achievement by the multi-talented Gabriel Koenig. For some examples, I've picked out a few different tracks, but Jettomero's soundtrack is worth listening to, even outside the game. Would some musical variation be nice? Certainly, but it's hard to see a good fit for it.
Jettomero does come with a few caveats, however. I can breeze through the solar systems and unlock all the story sections in under two hours, and it might be possible to complete Jettomero in 90 minutes or less. I certainly valued my time spent with it, but it's hard to say that Jettomero will have universal appeal. It felt as though it was reaching for something barely out of reach; more planets to explore, more puzzles, more astronomical oddities to see and crash into, but never quite gets there. Jettomero certainly isn't devoid of content, but a little more something, anything would have gone a long way.
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If anything, Jettomero is akin to Refunct or klocki, with a dash of The Iron Giant, though not tonally. Short yet interesting, but not exactly a "filling" experience. Jettomero certainly won't win any awards for innovation in gameplay, but it's nice to look at, and definitely fun to play. Again, it's hard to say who will or won't enjoy Jettomero, but there's definitely enough here to make for an afternoon or evening of exploration.
Charming until the end, Jettomero is a gorgeous, if short, experience. It may be entirely too easy to blow through in an afternoon, but that afternoon will be filled with soothing music and a lovely sense of style.
- Gorgeous Art and Visual Style
- Jettomero is Charming and Adorable
- Relaxing, Fitting Music
- Far Too Short