Victor has dared to delve down into his family's basement and down there, he must  use the monsters found in jars in order to combat other monsters. In this puzzle tower defence game by Daedelic Entertainment, the goal is to break every jar whilst protecting chests from what comes out of said jars. With an eye-catchingly gothic cartoon art style, JARS brings tower defence to a Donkey Kong-esque 2D ladder platforming approach.

The Good

Just like any tower defence style game, there's a lot of strategy involved in each level and yet, in JARS, there's also the element of luck and surprise. At the start of each level, you can see which jars are guaranteed to contain an ally/item and which jars contain enemies and yet, there will be others that will be random, resulting in the player to be cautious and time each jars opening with care. Upon failing and retrying a level, layouts mostly remain the same but with subtle changes here and there, such as a certain jar being on a different level or a randomised jar containing a different ally. This keeps the player on their toes and forces them to adapt to different situations.

As you progress, you'll unlock more minions via the Little Shop of Horrors to use and then, this comes with certain levels having specific restrictions (i.e. can only use flying minions). This works well for keeping the gameplay feeling fresh and not putting all of your upgrades into your favourite minions and being content by simply going through the motions.

Going back to the Little Shop of Horrors, this works fantastically with the game's point system as it acts as your currency to purchase new minions and equippable upgrades. If the player is struggling, they can also go back to previous levels to earn more points in order to go back with a more bolstered arsenal. While it may feel like grinding, it's not required but the option is there if needed (which is honestly how grinding should be).

If you get tired of the tower defence mode, you can take a break and jump into Hero Mode. This mode allows you to take control of a character rather than simply being an overseer. You'll use the character to climb ladders and break jars manually, ordering your minions and internally debating a reserved defensive approach or a more offensive one.

TL;DR

  • Good twist on the genre
  • Gameplay variety
  • Customisable upgrades
  • Hero Mode

The Bad

The pre-battle rollout menu is quite clunky to navigate through, especially with a controller. I played the demo with a mouse and keyboard during the October 2021 Steam Next Fest and it's easy to see how JARS was developed with PC primarily in mind. This then surprised me when I learned that there is no touchscreen support in handheld mode. With the icons being so large and the jars/positions being so well laid out, it seems like a big oversight and even an obvious inclusion if the developers want to eventually port JARS to mobile devices.

There seems to be some oddly random spikes in difficulty where I can breeze through five levels without a single care and then being halted in my tracks with a level that'd take me multiple attempts. For a puzzle tower defence game, it's to be expected that some levels will have certain puzzles to solve in order to stem the flow in your flavour, but the inconsistency is jarring and due to the game's levels being strictly linear, it'll make you want to put the game down and not pick it back up more than once.

TL;DR

  • Clunky pre-battle menu
  • No touchscreen support
  • Inconsistent difficulty spikes

Final Score: 7/10

JARS is a superbly quirky 2D tower defence game that is unfortunately hindered by a clunky menu system and infrequent difficulty spikes. It does well to stand out amongst the crowd within the genre with its Tim Burton-esque art style and the occassional cutscene provides some much appreciated personality. It's a bit of a shame that the game didn't translate as well as it could have from PC to console but regardless, it's still a reliable pick if you're in the mood for a good romp in the tower defence genre.

Thank you for checking out our JARS switch review, thank you to Daedelic Entertainment (via PressEngine PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:

For more reading, check out our review of Metroid Dread.