Set sail for action! Adventure! Danger! Weiner dogs with poofy shirts and floppy arms! Jolly Rover, a point-and-click adventure from Brawsome, puts you into the paws of Gaius James Rover, tasked with delivering a shipment of rum for the governor, who suddenly finds himself and his cargo taken hostage by an unscrupulous lot of scurvy sea dogs... literally. Even when he escapes he finds out Lady Luck still isn't on his side, and he'll need to learn just what makes a pirate if he wants to get out of this with his reputation, and his hide, intact.
To play, just move your cursor around the screen; items or people you can interact with will have their names appear when you pass over them. A blue font means you haven't interacted with whatever it is yet (or there's more interaction if you click again), and grey font means you've already examined it. If you want to try an item, just move your mouse towards the bottom of the screen to make your inventory appear. From there, you can click an item to pick it up, and click again to put it down or use it on something else.
As with most point-and-click games, puzzle solving in Jolly Rover primarily involves amassing an inventory of apparently unrelated junk and figuring out where to use it. Luckily, before long you'll gain a fine feathered friend who can give you hints as to what you should be doing, and will flat-out tell you what to do if you have a precious cracker to hand over. Most puzzles can be solved by good ol' fashioned trial-and-error, however, and the environments are usually designed well enough so that shortly after finding an item, you'll find a place to use it.
Analysis: "But why are they dogs?" Well, why not? After a while, you'll start to forget the characters are dogs; at one point, I came across a mound in the sand and expected to have to find a shovel when Rover himself promptly dropped to all fours and started digging. It was just one of many moments when this weird, off-beat little title made me grin. The humour in Jolly Rover can occasionally get a little risqué, if never outright crass, and that can be hit-and-miss depending on your tastes. But you'll find you'll get the best experience out of Jolly Rover if you just take your time and explore; there are so many little side jokes and details that you can only find if you spend some time poking your nose around your location.
Point-and-click veterans will feel right at home, and the whole thing feels like an homage to old Sierra adventure games. It's not just about combining items or figuring out where to use your oily rag, but about learning how to make the pirate's favourite dish, or figuring out a secret knock. You can expect to occasionally find yourself wondering what, exactly, you are supposed to do with a bunch of peppercorns and a dead fish, but the hint system is a great help. Certain comparisons are probably inevitable, but while Jolly Rover offers a lot of nods and winks towards classic games, it never feels like it's flooding you with inside jokes.
There are a few annoyances, of course. The sound effect that plays whenever you find an item gets old fast, and your parrot friend tends to interrupt you regularly to ask if you need a hint unless you tell him you don't want any. On the other side of the game design coin, the parrot can actually be fairly handy if you're genuinely stuck, and the idea to allow you to tell at a glance which items you hadn't interacted with eliminates a ton of pointless clicking. You can even alter our hero's walking speed under the options if you find he moves too slowly for you.
Although perhaps not destined to become a classic, Jolly Rover is a solidly enjoyable adventure with a lot of charm that can easily suck up an afternoon or two. It's silly, it's quirky, and it's carried along by some great design and, on the whole, some very good voice acting. Fans of the genre will find a lot to like and little to quibble over, making Jolly Rover a fun addition to your library of games.