Developers: Necrophone Games
Publishers: Adult Swim
Plot: You play a master of espionage, Polyblank, whose agency is about to be threatened by a dangerous nemesis.
Back when my computer broke, I was getting ready to review this weird and wonderful Indie game. In the absence of my blog, I totally forgot about it, until a week ago and I had to sit down and get a review out as soon as I had a chance. Jazzpunk is a truly wonderful gaming experience, designed for the die-hard gaming fans, who love exploring every inch of someone’s creation. However, it is also strictly for those that don’t mind taking a game with a pinch of salt and revelling in the world of nonsense.
This game doesn’t really have a plot. Yes, there is a villain and by the end of the game, it does take on a vague form of narrative, but the storyline is better described as a flimsy reason to tie all of these set-pieces together. The solution to the puzzle at hand is never obvious and often downright stupid, but because the game wears this tone so openly on its sleeve, it is easy to allow yourself to be swept along by the madness of it all. The main goal of this game is to make you laugh, all while shoving as many references as possible at you at the same time. For example, there is one moment in the game, where the action can be paused, while you play a game of Wedding Qake, where you are thrown into a fake multiplayer parody game, satirising the first-person shooter, Quake. It is all good fun and it really makes Jazzpunk a more expansive experience. The game, when played straight, will probably last a few hours, but that gameplay time is doubled, because you will most likely be scurrying around every corner, trying to figure out where the next gag will come from.
You won’t get every reference here. There are so many, that a good third of them will most likely shoot right over your head. Jazzpunk isn’t afraid to leave anyone behind, racing so far ahead, you will need an extensive gaming background to stay in with the jokes. It is hard to classify this as too much of a problem, as there is usually an easier to understand joke a few seconds around the corner. If you have never played Frogger, don’t panic, because a Mission Impossible joke will come along just afterwards. It also helps Jazzpunk become a cult piece of gaming for the gamer community. I can see people throwing themselves deeper into gaming history, to understand that one joke they didn’t get. Jazzpunk is definitely the kind of game to be celebrated, or at the very least, be put on a pedestal for celebrating gaming itself. The best thing about Jazzpunk is that this is clearly someone’s pet project and you can feel the love from the developers coming from every corner of the game.
The main issue I have with this game is that you cannot lose. Everything that happens in Jazzpunk has been carefully scripted and planned. You are essentially inside a playable cartoon. Like the Stanley Parable, no matter what you do, you are always being manipulated by the creators. While this particular game is far superior to the Stanley Parable, it does suffer the same flaw of being interesting, rather than good, in the conventional way. Some will not understand Jazzpunk and wonder where the actual game lies. This is becoming a bigger genre with Indie games and I find myself criticising several games for being boxed in by this category. However, games like this are still being made, suggesting that there is a demand for this material. I love the post-modernism in Jazzpunk and I appreciate the wit that is needed to pull off something of this calibre. However, when you never have any control of the game’s outcome, there is only so much praise I can award this game. However, when it comes to this genre of gaming, Jazzpunk is by far the best of the lot.
Final Verdict: More of a playful tribute than a game, but Jazzpunk promises a few hours of laughter and clever references.