Within the first few minutes of the game, I managed to toss a bystander off a bridge, blow smoke at a patron in a movie theatre, and collect pigeons for a pie. I wasn’t even close to being finished with the first level, and I had yet to begin my primary objectives. Welcome to the world of Jazzpunk, where what happens depends entirely on you.
Jazzpunk is a comedic take on spy and espionage films from the seventies, except almost every inhabitant is a robot. You are a human spy who is currently working for an organization in a train station. Your boss gives you the prescription meds, Missionoyl, in order to initiate each mission. From here you complete one absurd mission objective after another.
Jazzpunk has an eclectic style. Environments have a robust color palate while featuring crude character models. They blend smoothly together, creating an old-school spy movie aesthetic with some futuristic touches. Jazz pieces accompany players throughout, but the soundtrack isn’t afraid to explore other genres. Characters are a delight to interact with, as they’re all wonderfully eccentric. The presentation blends nicely so that players will want to come back to visit the world–with good reason.
Jazzpunk is an apt name for Necrophone Games’ project. All you need to know is how to move, point and click. Anything else that happens is simply a free-flowing process. There are objectives, but how and when you complete these objectives depends entirely on your actions in the process. As with jazz, there is a beginning and an end to the piece, but musicians are free to explore their musical talents. In Jazzpunk’s case, the player is free to explore the levels and converse with the inhabitants as much as they’d like—in fact, they’re encouraged to approach objects multiple times. There aren’t any puzzles to speak of, nor are the players in real danger—this is a game of exploration.
It may seem like I’m describing a shallow game; however, I couldn’t help but feel immersed the entire time through. This is because Jazzpunk is one of the funniest games I’ve ever played. Not only does it have a unique sense of humor, but it includes players in the joke. There are rarely ever objective arrows, and players simply need to point and click at objects. Eventually something nonsensically funny will happen, or the experience will change completely.
What I find frustrating about reviewing Jazzpunk is that I’m terrified of providing more spoilers than I already have in the introduction. Without giving too much away, you can find some clever parodies of games such as Frogger and—oh, I should stop right there before I ruin anything else. What you need to know is that each minigame is cleverly set up in places I would otherwise not expect to find them. While I did have some control issues with some of the minigames, they each provide enough humor to make up for it. They’re also completely optional; however, I recommend finding as many as you can, as they do make up a lot of Jazzpunk’s experience.
Jazzpunk can be completed in 2-3 hours, and I would understand those who may be hesitant to drop $15 on Jazzpunk. However, I enjoyed every second of Jazzpunk. Every time I wanted to put the game down so I could do something more productive, I would encounter yet another memorable event—again and again. Even on consequent play-throughs, I’m discovering new jokes—some of them I missed completely, but others occur by exploring the world further.
It’s tough to completely recommend a game whose selling point is comedy. Not everyone will enjoy Jazzpunk’s nonsensical sense of humor. That said, I respect Jazzpunk because it let’s its players create their own outlandish adventures, and it isn’t afraid to let them in on the joke.
This review is based on a digital copy of Jazzpunk for PC provided by Necrophone Games.