Shh, shh, you hear that? That is the sound of a post-apocalyptic boom, or rather, the shock waves of one whose echoes are still ricocheting through pop culture.
Take even the most cursory of glances at an app store, and you’ll see vampires, werewolves, and zombies are storming across our creative landscapes, while alien invaders, asteroids, and airborne toxic events loom menacingly in the heights of our imaginations.
So it’ll come as no surprise that Help Me Jack: Atomic Adventure is a hack and slash adventure set in the nuclear holocaust.
What will make you drop your toast midway to your mouth, however, is how the 200 level campaign can transport a console quality experience onto smartphones.
Honey, I blew up the world
Help Me Jack is set on a planet Earth that sits on the brink of becoming a nuclear wasteland – think gigantic explodey reactors, radioactive toxins, and mutated monsters.
In the wake of this catastrophic nuclear accident, all the living creatures on Earth have transformed into bulgy-eyed fiends who, for reasons unknown, are rounding up any human survivors inside heavily guarded cages.
A man named Jack is putting together a cohort of heroes willing to go forth into the lost cities of the world and save what’s left of humanity. As a member of that squad, this is where you come in.
You must navigate the end of the world, build a strong team to support you along the way, and find out exactly how and why mankind has been brought to its knees.
It’s a hefty responsibility, to be sure, but one that is somehow made bearable by the glorious graphics that colour this fallen world.
A delightfully 3D, cartoonish style accents epic battles against giant mutated sheep, while each swing of your sword emits arcs of bright light as you plough through the irradiated hordes.
Though strictly speaking, you don’t have to use a sword. Like any true RPG you begin the game by meticulously creating your character (or just speeding through the presets – hey, you have to do this kind of thing in front of the wardrobe every day for real, amiright?)
Gems are the in-game currency of this radioactive wasteland, buying you special items, partners, and energy (known as PEB) that will help you level up.
20 gems cost £1.99, 30 are £3.19, 70 will cost £6.89 (but you get 7 extra gems thrown in for free) and the most expensive option is 200 gems (plus 40 free) for £18.89.
Shoot or swing
You can customise your class as either a warrior or a shooter. It’s a nifty touch, though combat controls remain similar for both.
Your left thumb rotates a joystick making your character move, while your right thumb dances between five carefully placed buttons – a main attack, three special attacks and a handy dodge move.
Working in harmony, the controls are smoother than a greased up cheetah. It’s genuinely easy to forget you’re using a touchscreen device and not a console peripheral as you dive and twist in a boss battle.
Still, there are a few choice flies clogging up the ointment. Most obviously, that level of graphical detail drains your battery faster than a swiss cheese rowboat can sink.
Then there’s the fact that you have to have an internet connection to play. Help Me Jack may be free to play, but so help me Jack you cost me an arm and a leg in data.
Throw on top some “lather, rinse, repeat” levels – hack through the monsters, kill the boss, save the survivors – and Help Me Jack could easily become tiring.
This is just avoided by thoughtful extras thrown in like proverbial cherries atop a radioactive cake.
Each survivor you save can be enlisted as a partner in battle, a reactor can be levelled up to boost your stats, and in game achievements provide daily targets and rewards.
So while you might not be sucked in enough to rescue every survivor, the few that make it into your pod before your dodgy WiFi boots you out of the Help Me Jack narrative will still entertain.