Jumanji: The Video Game is an adaptation of the 2017 film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. In that movie, four teens are sucked into a retro video game console and forced through a deadly adventure in the jungle. Despite being a modernized reboot of a beloved 1995 movie starring Robin Williams, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was surprisingly good and received well by movie-goers. Now, with a hot new sequel hitting theaters, it’s time for the tie-in video game to hit store shelves. That also means it’s time for a Jumanji video game review. Is Jumanji: The Video Game a surprising mid-tier hit like the reboot it’s based on, or does it succumb to the classic blunder of cash-in mediocrity?
A Very Un-Jumanji Adventure
Besides including the same characters as the film, Jumanji: The Video Game actually has very little to do with the movie it’s based on. Instead of guiding the four protagonists through a whimsical and action-heavy adventure through the wilderness, Jumanji: The Video Game encourages the player to embark on a handful of bite-sized missions.
The game is very light on storytelling; you and the other members of the Jumanji team must save the world of Jumanji by carrying a magical jewel through several levels. As you battle off various nameless baddies with zero backstory, you’ll have to dodge traps, defend obelisks, and collect gem shards.
Each level starts with a small voice-over briefing from the safari guide Nigel, providing some context for the action. Beyond the choice of characters and the general idea of adventuring in the wild, Jumanji: The Video Game lacks almost everything that makes the Jumanji films fun.
Four of a Kind
Just like in the movie, there are four characters you can play as in Jumanji: The Video Game. Each are resembled after their respective actor or actress from the film. The voice-work ranges from acceptable to hilariously bad, made worse by the fact that the majority of the dialogue is canned one-liners. You can play as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, Ruby Roundhouse, Professor Shelly Oberon, or Franklin ‘Mouse’ Finbar. Each character has a slightly different feel and a unique ability to use, but none of them feel particularly interesting to control.
The game mainly plays as third-person shooter, with an additional melee attack and special ability thrown in for good measure. Playing either locally or online with pals, four different levels can be tackled. The game is best played as a cooperative experience, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find an online lobby. Levels range from shootouts in the jungle to shootouts in the mountains, with a couple of other forgettable shootouts peppered in the middle. Each one will take you roughly 20 minutes to complete, resulting in a game that can be finished in less time than it takes to watch the movie.
Unlock and Repeat
Jumanji: The Video Game is designed to be played over and over again, similarly to Left 4 Dead or Strange Brigade. As you spend time playing as each character, you’ll level up their individual ranks. Higher ranks unlock new cosmetic options for both outfits and guns, but that’s it. There’s a dire lack of content to motivate you to continue playing, unless you really value what color shirt your character is wearing.
Overall, the progression system ends up feeling like a weak attempt to provide replayability. Without it, Jumanji: The Video Game stands as a cooperative shooter with four levels that feel incredibly similar. There’s no story to tie it together, and no congratulations once it’s all over. It feels like an effort wasted, which might have been better spent on adding additional weapons or gameplay mechanics.
Should You Play Jumanji: The Video Game?
Apart from its inclusion of online and local split-screen multiplayer, Jumanji: The Video Game stumbles and falls flat on its face in almost every other way. The storytelling is non-existent, the gameplay is weak and uninspired, and the entire package feels incomplete. Whether due to a rushed development or slapdash design concepts, Jumanji: The Video Game feels like the greediest of movie tie-ins.
At a mid-tier price tag, I can’t recommend Jumanji: The Video Game to anyone. Unless you’re madly curious and the game has been significantly discounted, I would avoid it at all costs. The visuals are underwhelming even by last generation’s standards, and so is the gameplay. There was potential here for an intriguing adventure with meta-humor and arcade-like gamification, but it’s all a bit wasted. Unfortunately, Jumanji: The Video Game sticks out as one of the most over-priced and underwhelming games of the year.