As a child, did you ever use a piece from another game to replace one which was missing?
Maybe you put in some mini-figures to create heroes where there were none, or even ended up making a hybrid game. Jack of Spades channels those moments.
Jack of Spades, from Bonevolt, was an entry in last year’s Game Off, a game jam which had a theme requiring a fusion of game types. In the case of Jack of Spares, it merges card combat systems with RPGs. Where it gets especially interesting is that the deck of cards are directly represented by playing parlour cards, with each of the cards being a single use spell in combat.
Cards essentially replace class-based abilities and spells in RPGs, with each of the first four characters using their appropriate suit of cards (power level permitting). The power level is a simple concept tied to RPG level systems — cards with higher numbers are higher levels and more powerful. Defeat more enemies and you can use higher numbered cards.
For me, though, the real charm doesn’t come from this, nor from its turn based combat. It comes from what I mentioned in the intro: the cross over of components. In this case, the four heroes are joined by a chess piece as their fifth party member. They can’t use magic (as they are from another game), but they are very strong. Then, the final fight is against a full assemblage of chess pieces; a gritty battle where you are grossly outnumbered.
Jack of Spades is played entirely with the mouse. This is a design decision which I feel is well made, not least because it makes for a quicker pace than keyboard controls.
Just as a heads up for those of you who are off to play it. When it comes to the overworld, don’t skimp on the battles, as even the optional battles allow you to access stronger skills, and you’ll definitely need everything you can muster for the final battle.
Jack of Spades is playable for free on Itch.io.