Jump, Step, Step is described as a relaxing puzzle adventure that houses funny dialogue and an interesting story. Players are tasked with helping a short-circuited robot (Bob) locate his lost limbs, repair a broken spaceship, and get to the bottom of what happened him. Gameplay functions in two different ways, automatically and manually, with the latter not being available until later in the game. When playing as intended by the game, automatically, you will give Bob a set of commands such as left, forward, wait, turn right, forward, and so on and so forth. Once you have confidence in your sequence input, you simply press play and see if your directions will see Bob to his objective. As aforementioned, you can indeed control Bob directly, but this isn’t until post completion.
The problem with Jump, Step, Step, is that it doesn’t feel like you’re at all connected to the experience at hand. It’s not relaxing, it’s infuriating, it’s not funny, it’s annoying, and the story isn’t interesting, it’s bland and boring. We game in a time where developers are constantly trying out new, exciting, and interesting mechanics. Jump, Step, Step may indeed house functions that you’ll not see elsewhere, but that’s probably because most developers know that this formula is a recipe for disaster.
The game is designed to make sure that you’re precise with your inputs, otherwise you’ll be sent straight back to square one, following either a failed attempt, or death. To begin with, the game is easy enough to understand and there’s a fleeting degree of rewarding play when you’re handed the initial simplistic levels. However, once the intricate stages make an appearance, you’ll be pulling your hair out and smashing your controller against the wall.
The game is slow by design, which I can live with. What I cant forgive on other hand is how frustrating the latter stages of play become. As you get deeper into Jump, Step, Step, you’re given an ever growing list of commands to play with. This can range from asking bob to move forward, move forward, turn left, lift, move forward, turn right, stop, check for safety awareness, and more of the same. The fact that sections of the level move and weave in certain pre-set paths, makes it all the more irritating to overcome. Furthermore, I lost count of how many times I ran out of commands well before Bob reached his destination. Those that enjoy coding may likely withdraw some entertainment from this, but for me, there’s just far too much script. It doesn’t help that there’s a complete lack of guidance or help to rest up on.
The implementation of a leaderboard will allow you to tackle the scores of other players but I hardly see this as a blanket of replay value, more of a counter for how many people like to torture themselves. Mercifully each puzzle is typically short in length once you’ve found the winning solution, but getting from A to B in any of the latter stages is a task that will crumble even the most patient of people, regardless of its length. The soundtrack that sits behind the constant robotic beeping noises is at least commendable, but it’s hardly one that will stand out in the long run.
The game plays via an isometric view point and you can indeed manipulate the camera, but this is again something that the developers haven’t nailed correctly. You see, whilst you can move the camera to see what lays ahead, the camera will jolt back to its origin position as soon as you let go of the controls. Meaning you’ll be constantly fighting with the camera to see what your next input should be. It’s a very tedious ordeal and one of the many design choices that I simply can’t wrap my head around. Even the visuals are as plain and basic as they come, and do very little to bring the game to life. Jump, Step, Step is just a complete and utter mess.
Jump, Step, Step is certainly somewhat fun and rewarding to begin with, but that’s exactly where that rail ends. Once the complex puzzles come into focus, the core mechanics become tedious and lacklustre. The game description on the Xbox Store describes everything that this game isn’t, stating that it’s relaxing, funny, and interesting, when in fact, the overall experience is the polar opposite. Those that enjoy coding may enjoy this more than I have, if I could say I have enjoyed much of it at all. The gameplay is frustrating, the visuals are bland, and even control over the camera is a mess. The passable soundtrack is decent enough, but that’s assuming you’ll be sticking around long enough to let it sink in. Jump, Step, Step is one you should avoid unless you’re a die hard fan of puzzles, even with the generous price tag in mind.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.