Review: Family Jewels

Family Jewels is exactly what you think it is–a game about kicking people in the nads. Sadly, it’s nowhere near as entertaining as it sounds.

Your ball-busting adventure begins with a so-called “story” mode, an epic campaign of five whole missions in which you run around a series of environments, including the office, supermarket, bowling alley, amusement park, and museum, breaking things and booting dudes in their doodads until the exit door unlocks. It is completely devoid of any form of storyline, and over within 10 to 15 minutes, if even that long. The final level is literally a museum containing six NPCs–parodies of modern political figures like Drump, Hillrod, Herbie Panders, Willie Binton, Barry Hussein, and Dubya–who stand perfectly still for you to walk up and kick, at which point the level and game concludes. But hey, at least the game’s an equal opportunity offender.

The included Free Play option would seem to be a promising outlet for achieving nut-nuking nirvana, except for the fact that it’s a janky sandbox city environment with nothing to do but walk around, leap across building rooftops like a superhero, drive a car with busted-ass handling, collect some hidden baubles and trinkets, and kick wandering NPCs and hostile enemies in the junk. There’s no substance or purpose to anything. At least the developer was somewhat upfront about the quality, labeling Free Play mode as beta in the main menu. Beta is a fairly generous description, though, because the entirety of the game feels more like an alpha prototype that was sloppily thrown together in a couple hours.

Family Jewels‘ problems are as troubling as they are vast. What kills any potential for fun right off the bat is a cooldown timer that immediately immobilizes the player character for three seconds after a kick. For a game built around the lone mechanic of kicking people in their franks and beans, constantly having to stop and wait after each kick attempt does nothing but saddle you with an unnecessary limitation, and make the gameplay feel choppy and sluggish. You’re rooted in place for enemies to come along and boot you across the screen, which is somewhat funny the first few times due to the ridiculous ragdoll physics, but gets old in a hurry.

Even without a cooldown timer, the game would still be a mess. The hit detection is horrendous to the point of frequently whiffing on kicks even when you’re right up against your target. The physics are straight busted–sometimes when you get kicked by an enemy, you will catapult into the distance and then suddenly rubber band back to where you started. In some parts you can walk right through level geometry, fall through the ground and disappear from view, or get stuck on invisible barriers. What else? Well, the animation and controls are stiff and clunky, the textures are a muddy eyesore, and the framerate often chugs along despite the plain, hideous visuals. I could go on and on, but it’d be better if I just show you some of the many glitches I’ve encountered.

Any time I try to use the unlockable Uncle Vlad character, he starts glitched out, stuck hovering in mid-air with no way to move. The character’s unplayable no matter which mode or level I try.

Did she just walk through those steps? Yep!

Nothing like walking through a building’s wall and having your clothes and torso disappear.

Hey, where’d the floor go?

Look closely: the back tires are not where they’re supposed to be. (The car was also spinning around by itself when I found it like this.)

A river does not run through it.

This is a before shot for the next image.

This is what happens to the previous screenshot when I barely nudged the camera to the right. Hey, where’d everything go!?

Family Jewels is clearly trying to occupy the same space as so-bad-they-are-kind-of-fun-and-get-a-lot-of-YouTube-views “simulation” games like Goat Simulator and Surgeon Simulator, but the execution here is so far off the mark it’s insulting. I pride myself on being a fair reviewer, willing to play any type of game and give it the benefit of the doubt. It takes something truly egregious to rile me up enough to completely lampoon a game, and unlike plenty of reviewers and YouTube personalities who use skewering takes to draw clicks and views, I don’t enjoy being so critical and negative in tone. But there literally isn’t a single enjoyable moment to be found here, and frankly, it’s crazy that a game like this could be released in what’s considered a finished state since the quality is embarrassing even by Early Access standards. I could’ve considered being a little more forgiving if there appeared to be an ongoing effort to improve the game, but in the month since release there hasn’t been a single update (despite a message from the developer on the Steam page specifically stating that he’s “constantly adding to the game.”).

As is, the animations, physics, and hit detection are so utterly broken that all potential for jolly, nad-crunching laughter is entirely lost. Spending any amount of time or money on this game would be like kicking yourself in the nuts. While wearing a steel toe boot. It’s ironic that not playing a game called Family Jewels is the best way to make sure your own family jewels are protected.

SkipIt

Pros:
+ That “boing!” sound for a successful nut shot is kind of funny

Cons:
– Kick cooldown timer
– Janky animation, controls, physics, and hit detection
– Broken, lazy, and sloppy design quality

Game Info:
Platform: PC
Publisher: Michael McCartney
Developer: Michael McCartney
Release Date: 11/20/2017
Genre: Action
Players: 1

Source: Steam code for Family Jewels provided to VGBlogger for review by Michael McCartney.

(Please Don’t) Buy From: Steam for $9.99.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!