Review – Jumanji: The Video Game (PS5)
I was eagerly awaiting for Outright Games‘ first foray into the next generation of consoles, but I certainly wasn’t betting on an enhanced port of a two year old movie tie-in to be their debut. Jumanji: The Video Game was released alongside that bizarre reboot of the 1995 original, starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, and Kevin Hart, all trapped in a video game instead of being forced to play a borderline satanic version of Monopoly. The premise, in theory, should have resulted in a good video game adaptation, but Jumanji: The Video Game ended up being reviled upon release, earning pitifully low scores from critics. That’s the game we’re getting on the PS5 now, huh? Odd choice, but hey, maybe the power of next-gen can fix some of its (many) issues.
I’m not here to discuss the quality of that 2019 movie, because, honestly, it’s less terrible than the idea of a Jumanji reboot starring The Rock and Jack Black would otherwise imply. The game itself, on the other hand, was pretty bad, being a poor man’s version of your run-of-the-mill third-person co-op shooter. It features a paltry four levels, all with identical missions revolving around “escorting” a jewel to a statue at the end of a linear pathway of traps, enemies, medals to collect, and obelisks to activate in order to unlock a handful of gates. Not to mention the poor visuals, framerate, and sound design.
Each of the four characters has one underwhelming special ability and some different stats, but they don’t feel that different from one another. Even if Jack Black is the cleric and Kevin Hart is actually more powerful than The Rock, you’ll basically play the same way with whoever you pick as your main avatar. It’s all about shooting and looking for items in order to unlock doors, until the game tells you to stop. It is a really boring, uninspired, and limited gameplay loop, which is just slightly alleviated by the fact there’s four-player co-op, both online and offline.
There’s no new content in this PlayStation 5 port of Jumanji. You are getting the same bad game as before, but with some slightly better visuals and performance. With that being said, this is still one of the more underwhelming next-gen games I’ve played since the arrival of my PS5 a little less than a year ago. You’re not getting impressive visuals, nor a solid 60fps framerate. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen the game run at a stable framerate at all.
Characters are still animated like people trying to do the robot dance from the 80s. Loading times are quite long for next-gen standards. The PS5’s hardware just bumped the game to the level of quality it should have had back when it first came out in 2019. It used to be a bad a PS3-era game at best. It’s now a mediocre PS4-era game at best. Progress!
The most disappointing element about this game isn’t even the bare bones graphical improvements or lack of DualSense features. That infamous “prize” goes to the sound design. Let me start off by saying that, at the very least, the soundtrack isn’t bad. It’s stock, but it gets the job done. The problem lies in the voice acting. I get it, this game doesn’t feature the highest of budgets, so I would have been a lunatic to expect for Dwayne Freaking Johnson to show up and record a few one-liners… but these knockoffs don’t sound anything like their movie counterparts! Karen Gillan’s substitute sounds like a random valley girl the dev team found at a mall in Encino, for instance.
Remember that time the great Michael Bluth said, “I don’t know what I expected” on Arrested Development? That’s me with this PlayStation 5 version of Jumanji: The Game. That game was beyond salvageable back when it first came out; brute forcing it with improved hardware specs in order to look, sound and play like a mediocre last-gen game wasn’t going to be a solution. It’s boring, basic, really repetitive, and severely lacking in content. It can be occasionally entertaining, especially with friends, but I am pretty sure I can count at least seventy other co-op experiences I’d rather replay before tackling Jumanji once more.
Let’s be clear: this version of Jumanji is barely passable for PS4 standards, let alone the PS5.
It’s responsive and the control scheme is average at best, but the overall gameplay loop is beyond basic and devoid of challenge.
I understand the lack of voice acting coming from the movie’s stars, but I would have expected the developers to pick people who at the very least sounded somewhat like those actors. The soundtrack, while stock, is decent.
Fun Factor: 4.0
Boring, basic, really repetitive, and severely lacking in content. It might be borderline enjoyable with friends, but I seriously cannot see this game becoming any couch co-op staple among a single circle of friends.
Final Verdict: 4.5
Jumanji: The Video Game is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of Jumanji: The Video Game was provided by the publisher.