Jazzpunk Review (PC)
Alan MacMillan goes retro, sci-fi cyber spy in Jazzpunk
As soon as Jazzpunks intro loaded up I knew this game was a winner. Colourful, stylish and striking. Think Catch Me If You Can’s intro but fast paced and bursting with colour and mad drum music.
Jazzpunk is in essence a comedic spy adventure game, harking back to point and clicks with its bizarre inventory items and hilarious characters to interactive with. Unlike other point and click games of a similar nature Jazzpunk plays out in the first person, in a sort of alternative post cold war era, retro sci-fi cyberpunk world. But the thing you must realise with Jazzpunk is that it doesn’t take itself seriously and neither should you.
You play as Polyblank, a cyber spy of sorts who takes missions from a man called The Director. His office is a train carriage adorned with airplane seating. He gives you missions such as infiltrating the Soviet embassy which you then begin by popping some sort of reality altering pills. But it’s the games general content that drives it, as opposed to the missions themselves. Think of it like a sandbox area filled with side quests and well, just funny things to do!
This games main purpose is comedy and it wields it well. Ranging from simple sometimes juvenile comedy to witty intelligent quips. Jazzpunk throws gags at you relentlessly. I found myself laughing out loud plenty of times and at others I found myself smiling and nodding in appreciation of a neat reference or clever execution. When a trench coat clad spy on a park bench asked me to come back once I’d found the MacGuffin I spent ages scouring the level trying to find this, before remembering what a MacGuffin actually was! Well played Necrophone Games, well played. I particularly liked the three shells decorating toilet walls and running into Hunter S Thompson at the holiday retreat. The one thing that truly made me happy though was the games excellent world map. You know in old films when the dotted line plots the protagonists journey across the world? Well you can control the dotted line on this map and laugh your way through the alternative country names like India Gamia, Free Tibet (with every purchase) and Electric Qatar. Simple but oh so effective.
I find myself wanting to draw comparisons with The Stanley Parable, though they are entirely different games. But there is similarity to be found in the way they draw your attention to the world and it’s contents; commenting on it, questioning it’s inclusion, making a joke out of it. The whole game and its premise almost feels like a joke. The same way you might think of The Naked Gun, Spyhard or Airplane. It’s got a spoofy kind of feel to it and I love that. The moment I stepped into this bizarre game it just clicked. Literally. Wandering around clicking everything, trying out combinations that to me seemed obvious (and often worked), talking to all its weird and wonderful denizens, all without treating it like a conventional game. Somehow my mind made perfect sense of this completely nonsensical game. Perhaps having played Double Fine’s excellent Stacking helped with that.
Jazzpunk is also as stylish as it is funny. It’s unique art style at times manages to appear both crudely drawn and yet utterly stunning. It’s bursting with colour and vivid design in an almost sandbox environment filled with weird and wonderful people and items. If you want something that looks different to most games on the market then be sure to check this out. Comedy games are somewhat lacking in this industry and it can be hard to make a game that works that comedy into the game itself. Point and click games have always seemed very well suited to this task. Even if sometimes there is little meaning in the actions you take, you can always have a laugh at them. And isn’t that the point?
The only problem I found with Jazzpunk was a rather obvious one when I reached the end of the game. It’s rather short. I clocked in about 4 hours long with another hour spent going back over the first area as I prematurely advanced the level before I was done exploring. The later levels I spent a lot more time with to ensure I experienced all they had to offer. If you race through the game you can probably finish it in an hour or two, maybe even less. But you can also say The Stanley Parable only lasts 30 seconds depending on how you play it. Jazzpunk is certainly a game that you should take your time with and experience fully but where The Stanley Parable is designed for multiple playthroughs, Jazzpunk is not. If you exhaust each area/level in the game the first time through then you will have little incentive to play the game again. I feel that there could easily have been an extra couple of missions thrown in for good measure. I’d quite happily laugh my way through much more game content.
Jazzpunk’s missions may be few in number but they are kitted out with enough content to more than satisfy you. For the explorers and completionists amongst us you will be at home prodding and poking your way through Jazzpunk’s inners. There’s even a few neat mini-games hidden in there with nods to Quake and Street Fighter II. Overall its a highly entertaining game and a breath of fresh air. But then cybernetically enhanced lungs will aid that.
4.5 beret clad smoking pies out of 5Jazzpunk Review (PC),