J-Tubeus: Steam Adventure
Do precocious robots having adventures count as "steampunk", or do you need a big elaborately twirled moustache and a parasol before you can call yourself that? Tandemark's point-and-click puzzle adventure game J-Tubeus: Steam Adventure stars J-Tubeus, a bowler-hat wearing robot who wheels around his city of brass and steam sporting a boombox, because it's the cutest thing, that's why. On a morning like any other, however, his morning stroll is rudely interrupted when he finds himself kidnapped and tossed in a cell, and even the most optimistic fellow around couldn't think of a whole lot of good outcomes for that scenario... especially when the kidnapper is one of the city's most wanted! To play, just click to interact when the cursor changes, and drag items around the screen in puzzles. While there is no ability to turn off sound effects apart from music, you can control the audio of both simultaneously by clicking and dragging on the little audio bar at the bottom of the screen. If you need a hint, click the little question mark lightbulb in the bottom left corner!
It reminds me a bit of Little Wheel, thematically at least, all twee robotics and fantastic sense of style. For a robot that doesn't speak, J-Tubeus has a ton of character and personality that come out in the way he moves and emotes. The environment design is so incredibly detailed that it's a shame it tends to look a little grainy when in movement or zoomed out, which can make picking out objects from the busy backgrounds harder than it should be. Most of the puzzles you'll encounter are fairly simple... reassemble pipes or wires, or figure out the proper order to use items. They're not particularly difficult, but at least one of them, the key puzzle specifically, is more frustrating than it should be due to the way it will force you to start the entire painfully long sequence over if you fail too many times. J-Tubeus has such a wonderful, whimsical vibe about everything from its art to its animation that it feels like some Rube Goldberg-esque puzzles would have been a bitter fit, both in style and fun.
J-Tubeus' main issue, however, actually feels like its directly related both to how painstakingly slowly he moves, and the fact that you can't cancel actions or animations. When you're trying to solve a puzzle, watching J-Tubeus creep around the screen at a snail's pace is frustrating enough without having to watch the same failure animation over and over as you try multiple solutions. As a result, it's an incredibly charming and clever little game that feels rough around the edges, and with some more streamlining it would be an absolute joy to play instead of the fun yet somewhat bumpy ride it is now. Still, J-Tubeus: Steam Adventure is so creative and quirky that it's well worth checking out, and we can only hope for more adventures somewhere down the line.