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Three reasons why you should help financially support South African-developed game Jengo

Jengo Robot Wizard.jpg

Jengo is the first title from South African Indie studio, Robot Wizard, and they're asking for crowdfunding support via Fig. Unlike Kickstarter, Fig only supports game development, and on the advisory board, we have industry giants such as Justin Bailey and Tim Schafer from Double Fine Productions, Randy Pitchford from Gearbox, Brian Fargo from inXile, and Feargus Urquhart from Obsidian. Fig also only allows a small number of upcoming Indie games to pass through their platform.

I am not asking you to support a game for no good reason, so let's take a look at three reasons why it does deserve your time and cash.

1. Because it is on Fig

"We created Fig to provide game studios and their fans a more balanced and sustainable approach to game development. We’re changing how games get made by bringing together fans and investors for the first time. Together, we can grow the games ecosystem, inspire new community-informed titles, and provide a creative platform for studios to bring their ideas to the people who matter most—their fans. " Fig Mission Statement

As I've said, Fig works a bit differently than say Kickstarter. One of the most important differences is that the advisory board screens all submissions to determine if the game is of good enough quality. With the combined experience of the gentleman I mentioned (see the full advisory board here), I think it is safe to assume that quality control isn't a problem. The advisory board has a responsibility towards fans and developers, and given the games, these men have worked on, I do no doubt that they understand how important the respect of both communities are. I am not saying games that pass through Fig will be perfect, but it should at least receive mostly favourable reviews/reception upon release. That is what I would expect from such a distinguished league of gentleman.

So, let's take a look at some successfully funded games. There is Kingdoms and Castles (very favourable reception from fans & critics), Trackless (positive reception), and Solstice Chronicles: MIA (mixed reception). Projects that were successfully funded and that is currently in development include Pillars of Eternity: Deadfire, Psychonauts 2, and Wasteland 3. Those are three exceptionally promising games and a testament to the success of Fig.

Jengo is only now at Fig's Backstage Pass stage and will launch officially on the platform on April 24 (if this first stage is successful), but before that can happen the overlords need to see that there are fans that want to support the game. Fig already gave their stamp of approval; now it's your turn to do the same.

2. The art, the music, the story, and the genre

I haven't played a single minute of Jengo, yet I fell in love with the game the moment I saw the first piece of art. Louis du Pisani is the man behind the art; you can check out his work on Jengo here. My immediate impression when I saw the first screens and concept art was that an incredibly talented artist wandered into a video game and decided to paint a story of the world around him. du Pisani's art reminds me of the cool album covers of the 60's. It's almost like a forgotten art, and I would love to see this style in a video game. Make sure you click on the image below for a better look at what some of Jengo's art and screenshots.

Jengo Art.jpg

Something that compliments Jengo's unique landscape is the sound and music talent Robot Wizard has managed to pull into their Pixelverse. South African rock band, The Black Cat Bones will do some of the scores, with Riaan Bothma from the nu-metal band, Underbelly, and Stefan Stabic from the heavy metal band,  The Drift (du Pisani is also part of the band). That's a combination of some serious local music talent, all working together to make Jengo a memorable experience.

You can have a fascinating playground and excellent music, but you need a great story that brings it all together, and it's here that I predict Jengo will shine at its brightest. As I've said before (and Robot Wizard confirmed my suspicions), Jengo will be more than just an old-school, point-and-click adventure game.

I believe Jengo will be something like a satirical digital self-portrait of the games industry. A mockery of its holy cows, its taboos, its tropes, its highs and its lows. But it will also be a reminder of why we play games in the first place. I suspect that reason for the devs at least, is simply because it is fun to play video games.

The last point in this section is that you should support it because old-school, point-and-click adventure games shouldn't die. It's a tradition, a genre, that should live on, and you can help make that happen.

3. It is good to give back and support local

Yes, I understand that you already pay a lot to play video games and that you might feel that that is enough, but sometimes, more is required, and Jengo is such a case. It would be a loss for the gaming world if such a work of art and passion never lands on our screens. I try to support the development of at least one game every year as a way of saying thank you to developers for giving us these beautiful worlds.

I don't think we have an idea of the sacrifices, especially Indie devs, make so they can present us with a piece of themselves. Last year I backed Beautiful Desolation, and this year it is Jengo. You can check out the different rewards for parting with your cash here. Entry level demands $15 (come on every gamer can afford that!), with many different incentives along the ladder. Select the one that suits your wallet and unlocks the rewards you prefer.

Jengo game.jpg

In closing, if you're a South African gamer, then that's another reason to support Jengo. The local games industry is still very small, and for it to continue growing it needs all of our help. It creates job opportunities, and we've seen some pretty amazing games from our local devs. It's easy to talk about local gaming, and everyone wants it to grow in strength, and this is one big way to do your part in keeping that dream alive.

Jengo releases later this year for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and the Switch. It also has the support of Playdius as a marketing partner.

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"a satirical digital self-portrait of the games industry"

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