Welcome to “At a Glance” where first impressions mean everything! Ladies, gentlemen and 1950’s cyber hackers, I present to you; Jazzpunk.
The 1950’s have become somewhat romanticized over the last few years, what with the popularity of Madmen and Archer, heck even our music is becoming infused with it. Just take Justin Timberlake’s Suit and Tie from last year. It’s not just TV and music that has caught the retro bug, games have also taken this artistic style and ran with it from Bioshock Infinite’s Burial at Sea DLC to The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. Well today I am here to talk about a game that fits in with this list of days gone by nostalgia, or at least I think it does..actually come to think of it I don’t think this game fits in anywhere..and that’s not a bad thing.
The story of Jazzpunk is..well its an interesting one, i’l say that. The game is set in an alternate reality of the Cold War World in which cyber spies are tasked to combat each other with various levels of success. You play as Pollyblank, a voiceless hero with a dozen cardboard cut out arms. The story you are presented with is a vague yet compelling spy action tale that whisks you to numerous hot spots across the world to do cyber spy things, like hack into the Russians, chase down a motor pig or kill hundreds of pizza zombies, Oh by the way did I mention this game is silly? Jazzpunk is through and through an action comedy, with almost everything in the world trying to make you laugh; references to classic films or just surreal humor, everything has a pun up its sleeve. That or a pie. So as a spy for..some country, you must take your special spy pills and go on super secret spy missions and that’s basically the set up for the game. Everyone in the world treats everything and everyone like a joke, and you’re basically just here for the surreal acid trip that is Jazzpunk.
The game play of Jazzpunk is many things, but none of it complicated. It takes parts of many genres, from first person shooters to classic adventure games, and mushes it all together into this wonderful experience. Really the game play is an extension of the world and story, it is there for you to use, but it’s not in focus really. The game is more exploitative in nature than fueled by game play. The world is bursting with life and detail around every corner. Each mission is set in a semi open level full of NPC’S with side quests, or just random time wasters. These side quests don’t matter towards the plot in any way, but instead are entirely there to be fun, quirky, interesting and above all funny. These can range from catching pigeons for a covert operative to spraying foam cheese on an overweight billionaire (voiced by the always lovely, Jim Streling).
Each mission takes place in a different locations, varying from an Asian city to a holiday resort. Each feels entirely different and unique, my personal favorite level being the holiday resort. Each mission tasks you with doing spy related things, like stealing a kidney or breaking into the Soviet consulate. These missions provide some great laughs, as the amount of hilarious characters you will meet over the course of the game make the experience truly something to behold.
The humor in Jazzpunk is obviously the driving force of the game. From Fear in Loathing in Las Vegas to Quake, the game is oozing with love for classic movies and video games. Not only will you stumble across references, but some very surreal humor as well. Really the only other game out there that is anything like this would be 30 Flights of Loving, or its prequel, Gravity Bone. In terms of tone the games are very similar, which is fantastic, because I absolutely loved both of those titles.
As you can see by the screenshots I have provided,the game is certainly visually striking. The world is just so full of color and imaginative design that its hard not to fall in love with what you’re seeing. Sure some would call it too simple, but I personally love the minimalist approach, as it keeps the humor light and conveys a sense of slap stick. The soundtrack, I am happy to say, is just as good as the visuals, using an interesting blend of jazz and samba to create a truly bizarre and high energy atmosphere.
Jazzpunk is a stylish,quirky and, above all else, hilarious adventure. The game takes about 4 hours to complete and that’s stopping to smell all the roses. This may put a lot of people off seeing as the asking price is 13.99, but if you’re looking for a short, fun and imaginative adventure game that will keep you invested and smiling for the entire time, then Jazzpunk really is for you. The game is quite unlike anything else on the market and in a era in which games are more serious and expensive then ever, maybe sometimes it’s good to just play a video game that wants to make you laugh.
You can purchase Jazzpunk on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/250260/
Or from the official site: http://necrophonegames.com/jazzpunk/