I came to Jazzpunk not knowing what I was getting into. I had watched a video last year when it first came out but, even then, I had no idea what type of game it really was. And after finishing it…I think I understand what it is. It is basically a “Walking Around Simulator” like Gone Home. That isn’t necessarily a criticism. I enjoyed my time with Jazzpunk, I would go as far to say that is probably the best ‘Walking Around Simulator’ you can buy, I was just hoping for something more.
Saying that though, if there is one thing this game excels at more than any other it is the humour. Jazzpunk absolutely chock-a-block with jokes. They range from visual gags like a pie with a beret on (Beret Pie, get it?), puns based mainly on computer programming, interactive jokes referencing other games and just general absurdest humour. It leads to some truly unique moments. In
what other game can you throw spiders at a guard’s face, marry people by playing “Wedding Qake” – a pun on the game Quake – and dress up like a woman to seduce an enemy agent? Only one and that is Jazzpunk. As expected, it doesn’t always hit. But when it does I laugh and laugh and laugh.
The overall premise of the game is this: You are a secret agent for some organisation and you are tasked, by eating strange pills, to take out the enemy agency. It is very loose, makes little sense and is nothing more than a reason to jet set around the world. And it doesn’t matter because at no point does Jazzpunk’s lack of story affect the quality of the jokes. In fact, the way you are constatnly bewildered by what is going on just adds to the hilarity.
I love the weird artstyle this game has. It is so cheerful and esoteric – with homages to James Bond, psychedelia, jazz culture and French cinema throughout. You go through a range of different locations thanks to being a member of some useless secret agency and they are all very cool. You go from a Russian consulate to down-town Shanghai and even a holiday beach resort (for some well earned rest, of course). They all have their own identity and are filled with things to look at and interact with. A lot of it is totally unprompted so you have to really search around to find some of the funniest bits.
Although I will say that the game loses a fair amount of steam the longer it goes on for. Which is understandable, if a bit disappointing. Saying that, Jazzpunk is lean. It is the exact length it need to be and not a second longer, which is very impressive in a time where a lot of video-games are drowning
in filler. Its just Jazzpunk just doesn’t top its first level with its jokes or sheer amount of things to do, in my opinion.
Minor quibbles aside, however, if don’t have some mental deficiency where you have to blow shit up every 10 minutes otherwise you froth at the mouth, Jazzpunk is for you. Just come to it with an open mind and a desire to laugh.
Next time on Breaking Down the Backlog: To The Moon.