Developed by Necrophone Games
Jazzpunk it not a game you’ve played before. It may be comprised of elements of games you’ve played before, but you’ve definitely never experienced anything even close to it. This post is going to be one of the harder ones I’ve done since beginning this blog, partially because I absolutely adore this game but also because this game contains many mysteries that need to be experienced to get the full effect. What I’m going to try to do in this post is explain why I love Jazzpunk and why you need to play it and attempt to do this while keeping any sort of spoilers to a minimum.
In Jazzpunk, you play Polyblank, a spy sent on missions throughout a fictional Russian world. Throughout the game, you are sent on a handful of missions, each with objectives like infiltrating a building to find a cartridge to stealing organs from a cowboy. The gameplay of Jazzpunk is extremely varied and borrows elements from many popular games from your past such as Frogger and Space Invaders to create a unique hybrid of open world exploration and quests. Never a moment went by that I wasn’t surprised by some small detail I found tucked away in each of the locales.
Visually, the world is vibrant and colorful and has a feeling of playing a spy movie from the 1960s. Characters look blocky and have very unnatural reactions to the physics to give another level of comedy in an already humorous game. Stylized is the best way to describe this game and given the tone of Jazzpunk the graphics help to cement that tone. The audio design is also fantastic. Characters have mostly deep distorted and bass filled voices, but luckily the game gives them subtitles to combat that. According to Steam, the music and sounds are comprised of an assortment of homemade analog electronic instruments and it makes for a very unique soundtrack. It constantly jumps from one song to another as you move from area to area, but it is a perfect fit and something I would easily listen to outside of this game.
An assortment of NPCs make up this game and each one has a handful of hilarious dialogue and unique personalities. While the characters lack backstory, the dialogue and superb voice acting help to let your mind flesh each of them out. I’m not one to laugh out loud very often, even when I find things to be humorous, but this game had me laughing at many moments. The joke telling is fantastic for those who enjoy an unconventional style of humor. If you’ve ever been a fan of Adult Swim (not surprisingly because they also happened to publish this game), you’ll feel right at home with the entire game. At times I almost felt like I was playing a game based on Archer or Aqua Teen Hunger Force just based on the absurd style of humor.
When it comes to pop culture, few games have touched on as many elements of it as this one. I played this game to full 100% achievement completion which meant for certain areas I had multiple playthroughs and I can assure you that even after four hours of gameplay, I was still finding new references I missed the first time through. I am really counting on the Internet to comprise some sort of wiki page that contains all the references in this game just so I can see what I missed. Just off the top of my head, I remember clear references to a lot of those “90 kids” shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Some of the references even went back much further touching on things like the Adam West Batman series. This doesn’t just stop at TV shows either, the references go all over the board and some people will probably get more out of this aspect of the game than others.
The main criticism people will find with this game is likely the length. My first playthrough of the game came in at just over 2 hours. This was taking a leisurely pace and playing as much of the side missions as I could. In my opinion, the quality of the content far outweighs these issues and the $15 price point is completely justified. I got far more out of Jazzpunk than the average $10 theater experience and would expect most of the people that play this will be on the same page. I know this isn’t a game for everyone, but I feel like the type of people that would be reading a blog about indie Steam games probably share some of the same interests in comedy as me. Just know before you buy it, it is not an overly long experience, but find comfort in the fact that it doesn’t contain a ton of filler content and has a level of quality that holds strong from the beautiful opening sequence to the disturbing ending credits.
I cannot recommend this game enough. Of all the 2014 releases I’ve played thus far, this one tops my list and will likely hold strong as the year continues. I absolutely adore everything that makes Jazzpunk what it is and it is not a game that any words can do justice in explaining. Play this one for yourself and enjoy every minute of it.