Jazzpunk (PC) review
"$15 nets you admission to one of the funniest experiences you'll have in a while."
A friend of mine has labelled Jazzpunk as an 'interactive joke machine', which I feel sums the game in its entirety. Unlike titles like Proteus for example, which are more compelled to give you an experience and story rather than any kind of solid campaign (and also is debated on whether or not it's an actual game), Jazzpunk brings you a nicely sized campaign that is more interested in entertaining you through cheeky puns, strange encounters and comedic situations than anything else... But surely you could browse image sites instead of paying $14.99 for a laugh, right?
I won't be using words like 'acid', 'drugs' or 'trip', regardless of the numerous bewildering sights and interactions you'll have during your missions in Jazzpunk, even if I question the developers state of mental clarity when they came up with most of the game's content. It all starts off innocently enough; you playing as a secret agent who must go to Soviet Russia and steal precious intel, then escape. If you have even a fractional tiny chance of being distracted however, a mission that would take less than ten minutes to complete through its linear track will soon become an hour, thanks to the game being stuffed with NPC's, mini-games, references and other oddities that will either confuse you or make you laugh out loud, or a delightful mixture of both. While at first I was hesitant of playing a game that was simply a comedy routine and little else, I was very impressed in finding that most to all of the jokes were sharp, witty and never, ever overstayed their welcome. Premise, hook, punchline, done. Never did it feel like a joke had to linger longer than it had to in order to make you chuckle, and even if you don't laugh at some jokes, you can just proceed on to the next odd chatter a NPC had to share with you and move along like nothing ever happened. Jazzpunk has an incredible strength in that aspect, allowing its player to progress at the speed that they wish, able to take in all the gags at their own pace, and despite quite a few jokes refer to computer and technological terms, the clever writing will ensure that nothing ever truly sails over your head.
To talk about the finer details of all the comedy in Jazzpunk would feel like a major spoiler, and I would be cheating you. Thankfully, it's not a raunchy romp, nor is it a child-friendly adventure. Despite being silly and weird as hell, it does merit a Mature rating from the ESRB due to violent sights and adult themes, but there isn't anything that would cause incredible shock or offense; again, applause for the intelligent writing staff. For me to try and objectively comment on the gameplay is a moot point, as you merely walk around and interact with characters or objects to either uncover jokes, a diversion or even side-quests, which can lead towards the handful of achievements Jazzpunk has. One could argue that this game could have been a Flash game on the internet for free as a point and click adventure, but I would argue that you lose much of the visual appeal when not made into a 3D adventure. I'm no art major and Jazzpunk isn't looking to be put on display in a museum, but the graphics are both subtle and clear enough to not assault your senses and detract you from the experience or make it a struggle to find something else to interact with for the next joke. It's not to say that Jazzpunk is lazy in its graphics, but between the bathroom sign figure population and the nicely detailed though still deranged looking environments, the game strikes a nice balance between wanting to look presentable, but doesn't blow its budget into trying to net awards for being the best looking game ever.
I didn't realize how impressed I was with Jazzpunk's technical and visual aspects until I sat down to write this, and to complain that this is an interactive adventure game would just be silly. I will however gripe that for $15 I would've enjoyed a bit more time in the weird, cyberpunk universe, though this is a risky gambit since artificial game extension may just lead to recycled and stale jokes that seriously miss their mark. With my wandering and desire to unearth all the jokes, my first playthrough of Jazzpunk took me about four hours, and that's considering I possibly might have missed some jokes here and there, which leads into my only major complaint; replay value. Unless you want to go back and get all the achievements, find those last few hidden gags or want to take another spin in the future when you need a chuckle, Jazzpunk's shelf life feels quite limited, especially if you don't share in the referential, computing and word play jokes throughout the game. I'm getting my value out of the game through speedruns, but I suppose Jazzpunk can be appreciated like many indie games that are labelled as 'art'; an occasional playthrough to remind you what made the game, and your purchase, worthwhile.
I digress. A $15 dollar price tag is asking just a bit much, where $10 would've been pretty much the perfect price tag. That said, I have no regrets of spending my time with Jazzpunk, where laughs and dumbfounded stares were plenty. If the trailer to the game garnered no interest from you, then I would wait until a sale heavily drops the price. Just do yourself a favor and avoid having any jokes or discoveries be spoiled for you. Jazzpunk gets a solid recommendation from me, but maybe not at the full $15 price tag.
Community review by Dinoracha (February 16, 2016)
Dinoracha is a world-renowned internet famous Let's Player, voice actor, writer, reviewer, e-sports competitor, masterful stream host and man of the people. These may or may not all be gross exaggerations.
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