Jazzpunk Review (PC)

Kind of neon

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In Jazzpunk we blended a group of people in a jacuzzi into a fine pulp and fed them to an innocent sunbather in the nighttime. In Jazzpunk we turned japanese people into flies. In Jazzpunk we accidentally pushed numerous people into roads. It’s not a simple game.

Created by a team of two, Jazzpunk is a complicated joke that relies on fairly straightforward laughs. There’s no real gameplay skill although there are some basic puzzles – it’s more of an experience style game in the vein of Gone Home or Journey, but with intrigue and wonder replaced with 80s kitsch and not-so-subtle references. Imagine a wander through a stoner’s doodle of an Airplane and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas crossover and you’re not too far off the mark.

The jokes are very hit and miss but there are some genuine laughs to be had, the writing is by far the strongest part with the visual gags generally let down by the simplistic visuals. The game has a style all to it’s own but it could never be considered detailed or even particularly striking, it seems to have come out of the practicalities of a small team rather than any real artistic choice. As you go around the levels you can click on lots of different things and often you’ll be greeted with a snippet of dialogue. Although there are few real characters and barely a story arc, some of the writing is brilliant while other parts will raise a wry smile ‘Family Guy’ style because you’re in on the reference. Three shells by a toilet was a particular favourite.

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Situations range from diverting to absolutely surreal, with some clear side quests and even sections that take you into whole other games. We wouldn’t want to spoil anything here but some of them are actually quite fun for minigames, making fun of other genres while being playable enough in their own right. It’s a shame that the main game doesn’t have more in the way of interactivity or controls. Everything is handled with a single ‘use’ button and sometimes you have items that can be put into your inventory and then used in different situations – all the items tend to be based around one trick though and there’s not all that much freedom to experiment, you simply discover the jokes that have been laid out for you by the creators – everything is controlled.

The game itself is loosely based on a spy thriller. You have a director who gives you missions that you must carry out like stealing a kidney or swapping a briefcase in a meeting. They’re all really simple and without distractions you could probably finish the game in under an hour but of course the joy is in exploring the few limited worlds. If you do absolutely everything you’d be looking at around three hours of content. For £11.99 it’s a tad on the expensive side compared to other similar games but there’s definitely some value in it, it’s an entertaining evening with some interesting music and enough humour to keep it interesting.

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Overall this is a great little curiosity but that’s all it is – there’s no depth or hook to bring you back – it’s a two or three hour stumble through a surreal world that’ll make you laugh and that’s not a bad thing to be, for £11.99 though you might want to consider waiting until it goes down in price (or pick it up now as it’s 20% off on Steam at the time of writing).

Verdict 6

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