Tuesday, 25 July 2017 00:00

Just In Time Incorporated Review

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Just in Time Incorporated, a new VR title from first-time developer Second Wind Studios, is what you'd get if Superhot and Job Simulator had a baby. The main hook here is that, by way of some super-advanced gloves, you're able to perceive the world at a tenth of its natural speed. This opens up many possibilities, such as for grabbing, redirecting bullets, saving falling civilians, or – bizarrely – the ability to remove the clothes of any NPC.

Through a short tutorial, you learn the mechanics (few), and are told the nature of your job. In this alternate reality, people can buy insurance from Just in Time Incorporated, a company that promises to send agents out to clients who are about to die. Using slow motion to their advantage, employees of this company will manipulate the environment to ensure their customers survive. It's an outlandish concept, and Second Wind Studios plays it smart by keeping things tongue-in-cheek. [EN: This could have benefitted from more lampshading.]

Selecting a new challenge is as simple as accepting missions from clipboards that give details on the at-risk client as well as their predicament [EN: SoundsFamiliar.png]. The notes on the clipboards are often chuckle-worthy, though the best use of humor comes from some of the scenarios themselves [EN: Man, it’s just a trip down memory lane, today]. I won't give away the funniest moment, though I will say it involves a voided contract. If you're like me, you enjoy a bit of darkness in your comedy; seeing some of the over-the-top ways people meet their end throughout the violent puzzler is sure to please. Before you accuse me of being a psychopath, you should know that the violence on display is too cartoony to be disturbing. Characters are blocky, Minecraft-like beings occupying simply textured environments. As basic as the graphics are, it's not ugly by any means, and as a bonus, it performs flawlessly as well.


For better or worse, Just in Time is very simple, as exemplified by the two-button control scheme (Three, if you count the menu button). The controls for the HTC Vive version involve holding the touch bad to teleport (which is the sole means of getting around) and the trigger to grab or interact with objects in the environment. This simplicity is also apparent is in the disappointingly few options one has to complete puzzles; the first non-tutorial level that I tried gave me a taste of something the title never again delivered upon. In this mission, a scientist is about to be swarmed by dozens of rabid rats, and there are many ways of killing the furry swarm. You can use different chemicals in the lab, some of which kill the rats, while others turn them into giants that are harder to kill – you can use a makeshift explosive, an axe, a switchblade, mousetraps, etc. While it was very easy, it allowed for a freedom of play style that I was hoping Just in Time would provide.

Unfortunately, what I found was that, with few exceptions, there was only one way to save the clients, and the solutions were usually immediately apparent. They usually involve turning enemy weapons against themselves or using the small amount of interactable elements in each level in a specific way. This is the main problem with the VR title: it's not freeform enough to offer replay value, nor is it tough enough to be a meaty and satisfying puzzle game. Some extra fun is had by intentionally failing missions to see the different ways NPCs can die, and I all but guarantee that you will first fail every mission just to see the carnage before replaying it properly. That being the case, it's odd that the developers even shorted us in this area as well, as missions will pause to be reloaded mere moments after any of the essential characters die. Rather than allowing players to watch the full extent of the slow-mo carnage during some of the more elaborate accidents, the developer insists, bafflingly, that you stick to playing the mission as intended. A bizarre decision considering the irreverent tone for which Just in Time is aiming.

Despite its problems, I did enjoy this title for its novelty and creativity. One high point of the experience is that Just in Time Incorporated may mark the first time I've enjoyed escort missions [EN: Blasphemy].  I could still confidently recommend it if not for it's short length. By the time I had finished every assignment as well as the post credits bonus levels, I had raked in eighteen out of nineteen achievements, yet had only clocked in a total of 1.7 hours of play time. It's hard to justify the purchase considering its dearth of content.


The Verdict

Just in Time Incorporated is Just Okay. It’s a great concept, but the execution is lacking. As it stands, the puzzle solutions felt too stilted and left you craving more challenge, however, the brief title is still more enjoyable than not, with humor that consistently delivers. Though fairly polished, and with mechanics that plain work, we get the impression that there's a great game in Just in Time – just not this time.

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Caleb Bailey

Caleb is a game reviewer who is way more of a nostalgic curmudgeon than any 25 year old has any right to be. He enjoys shooters, open world games and is a huge believer in virtual reality's potential. His guilty pleasure movie of choice is The Neverending Story which he still shamefully watches because it was his childhood favorite. He hopes to one day ride Falkor the Luckdragon in VR because that is what he means when he says virtual reality has potential.