Justin Wack and the Big Time Hack

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Matt Aukamp

Written by Matt Aukamp

November 16, 2022

It seems that point-and-click games are always looking back. So many adventure game developers love to remind us of the warm, fuzzy days when the classics smacked us over the head and left us dizzy, hearts in our eyes. If a track back in time is the sort of thing you’re looking for, Warm Kitten aims to take you there with their debut PC title, Justin Wack and the Big Time Hack. With its multiple big-headed, pop-eyed cartoon protagonists and its intentionally goofy time-jumping story, the game eagerly calls upon our memories of beloved genre staples, and particularly Day of the Tentacle. Packed full of inventory puzzles, references and in-jokes aimed at die-hard adventure gamers, Justin Wack is bound to satisfy a specific subset of nostalgic fans. Others, however, may find it a bit lacking in some of the fundamentals that made its inspiration so inspirational.

 In one of the game’s many introductory scenes, we find out that Justin Wack is about to shack up with his girlfriend when the couple hit a snag and break up, causing Justin to fall into a hopeless depression. We then see a flashback of dinosaurs ruling over cavemen as if they were pets, a strange interlude of two robot monkeys in a therapy session who both talk like Sean Connery, and an explanation of the hint system, before we finally narrow back in on Justin. After a few more scenes at his workplace, you’ll eventually take control of sad-sack Justin and – through a microwave-based setback – launch him through a portal into the distant past. A curious caveman then leaps through the other side, causing the portal to close and stranding them both in the wrong time. Thus, the game begins with Justin seeking to return to his own time and patch things up with his girlfriend, and the caveman seeking to blend in to the modern day.

Justin Wack is a pretty standard point-and-click throwback. You can click on various objects in any scene and a little icon will tell you whether you can Look At, Interact, or Talk To it, with multiple icons popping up if you can do more than one. Your inventory is stacked in a bar at the top of the screen that you can scroll through, select from various bric-a-brac you’ve found in your adventures, and drag them into the scene to use. There is an auto-save feature, though you can also save at any time. For some strange reason, however, you only have six save slots. Thankfully there doesn’t seem to be any dead ends or deaths in the game, so the limited space is fine.

The game allows you to switch back and forth between the two (eventually three) protagonists. You control Justin in the land of the dinosaurs and Kloot in the modern world, both in the same physical area but thousands of years apart. The game does its best to integrate puzzles between the two, eventually introducing a way to pass items back and forth, though the majority of the obstacles are fully explored and solved independently. Justin eventually gains the ability to travel to multiple time periods, just as the surprise third character enters the game. This feels like it could be cumbersome, but it’s never too difficult to track what is happening where (or when).

For the adventure gamer who likes inventory puzzles, they will find no lack of them here! Justin Wack boasts a mind-numbing number of puzzles to wrack your brain over. Your inventory will fill up with dozens of knickknacks and you’ll find yourself playing all the hits like distracting store clerks to steal an item, collecting three random things for a character to help you solve a problem, and making a giant slingshot to fling yourself into outer space. Okay, maybe that last one is new. Like many of its modern contemporaries, Justin Wack employs an in-game to-do list in the form of a notebook to help you keep track of your current tasks, and it’s just as fun to stack up a list of objectives as to see them crossed off. I spent roughly seven hours playing and I was constantly busy, only finding myself stuck a few times.

There’s a built-in hint system if you find yourself with a lack of ideas to try. Like so many other things here, this system is a reference to classic adventure gaming, when players used to have to call a hint line to get help with puzzles that really had them on the rack. In the menu, you can select the “Hint-Chat” feature to ask a woman with a headset and a wall crowded with classic adventure game posters about various puzzles in a dialogue menu. I found some hints to be incredibly direct and others to be vague enough to nudge me in the right direction, but occasionally just looking at the list of dialogue options was enough of a clue to get me where I needed to go. If the temptation is too much, however, you can take a crack at going it alone and simply turn the hints off, and the Hint-Chat will refuse to help you for the rest of the game. If all you need is a bit of a nudge to get you in gear, a trusty hotspot highlighting feature will keep you from pixel-hunting.

Pacing is the game’s biggest weakness. Major events will occur in the blink of an eye, while trivial moments will drag on for far longer than they need to. Part of this is due to the over-use of title cards. Any passing of time – even if just a few seconds – will be accompanied by a fade to black and a title card explaining that time has passed. Jokes like a character rambling and a title card saying “One lengthy monologue later” are repeated multiple times. Similarly, many actions that could have been quick animations, like the flash of a camera, are replaced with a title card that says something like “One picture later.” These running gags are occasionally cute, but rarely funny. Certainly not funny enough to warrant the repetition and many interruptions to the flow of progress.

In addition to the title cards, Justin Wack has a knack for inserting interstitial cutscenes constantly. When leaving the room after any significant puzzle is solved, you’ll often see a three- to five-minute scene of something happening “meanwhile” in the world or in time. While not foreign to adventure games, I have never before seen this gimmick used so frequently. I have also never seen it used to such a whimpering effect. Likewise, the game has constant references to ’90s adventure games. Often, I was just inwardly begging the game to let go of its mediocre jokes and allow me to move on to the next puzzle or story beat. This was doubly true of the constant attempts at ginning up a catch-phrase for its main characters: “Ay Caramba” or “Crikey” when a character is shocked. “Ding Dong” when a character is horny. “Crapotulous” when a character is frustrated, or sometimes for seemingly no reason.

Aside from lackluster writing, one of the reasons the wisecracks fail to land is the uneven voice acting. I mentioned before that the robots all seem to be doing a (poor) Sean Connery impression. Most of the other voices can’t even muster up this level of enthusiasm. The characters are sedate and awkward, unable to deliver on even the easiest of punchlines. Granted, this is also magnified by the many long pauses between lines of dialogue. Since you can’t skip cutscenes, these long pauses make every conversation drag on, even when clicking through dialogue as fast as you can.

Thankfully, however, Justin Wack and the Big Time Hack‘s artwork is a delight to look at. The world surrounding our adorable protagonists is colorful and full of cartoony detail. Every time period you explore has its own unique charm. Whether you’re among the rocks and leaves of prehistory, the cluttered modern day, or the hermetic metallic future, there’s no lack of care in the art. Each scene is packed with sight gags, references, and traces of ambiance of a lived-in world. It has a similar look to the smoothed-over remasters of old pixel games, but some skillful digital painting gives these characters more life and definition. The animation is a bit light, often covered up with the aforementioned title cards or the quick swooshing effects of Day of the Tentacle. Still, what little animation is present is smooth and well-crafted.

The soundtrack nicely rounds out the cozy feel. A gentle synthesizer score accompanies you in each scene, varying just enough that it doesn’t feel too repetitive. It serves the function of creating a warm and cohesive atmosphere, though it lacks some of the other things you’d want a soundtrack to do. The music is all similar enough that locations and characters don’t feel particularly distinguished. Neither does it really shift for dramatic or silly moments. Perhaps, as a result of this, the game felt just about the same every time I opened it. Though this could also be due to a lack of much dramatic tension in the game in general.

Final Verdict

All in all, Justin Wack and the Big Time Hack is a fine adventure, but it doesn’t really stack up successfully against its enduring influences. Warm Kitten takes a crack at reliving the magic of Day of the Tentacle, but lacks much of the charm and sharp writing to effectively support it. There are a lot of fun, colorful graphics and hours of puzzles to snack on, but very little of true substance that will stick with you long after you’re done. So like the gaming equivalent of comfort food, it’s a cozy experience that will give fans of the genre a nice jolt of nostalgia they may be craving.


Hot Take

Heat Gauge

Focused more on winking at the past than being a memorable experience in its own right, Justin Wack and the Big Time Hack lacks the charm and originality of its inspirations, though it still offers a handful of cozy hours of solving puzzles across multiple timelines in a cute cartoon world.


  • Colorful cartoon graphics create a comfortable world
  • Many classic point-and-click puzzles to keep you entertained for hours
  • Three eras of interesting worlds to explore with multiple characters


  • Awkward pacing makes scenes drag
  • Lackluster voice acting robs characters of any charm
  • Annoying jokes repeated ad nauseam

Matt played Justin Wack and the Big Time Hack on PC using a review code provided by the game’s publisher.


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1 Comment

  1. Beau

    There’s no such thing as a bad Sean Connery impression!


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