Necrophone Games does interactive comedy right in Jazzpunk, a surreal adventure in which the laughter is its own reward.
Jazzpunk projects exactly what its eccentric name implies; a hilarious adventure with an unwieldy rhythm and paradoxically predictable narrative-uncertainty, all of which draws fuel from a seemingly endless source of energy. Jazzpunk may share its mission with the likes of Incredible Crisis or LSD: Dream Emulator, but as the titular flag bearer for its invented style, it's now the standard. Jazzpunk is so jazzpunk.
In fact I can't think of anyone who wouldn't like this game, but while I'm excited for the internet to get at it so I can find out what I missed, at two hours long many people might find it hard to justify a purchase. Just keep the meter running, I'll be right back.
Jazzpunk isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea but it's guaranteed to make you laugh. If one joke doesn't work for you, the one that follows five seconds later probably will. Much of it will depend on your tolerance for silliness, yet it remains a short and sweet experience perfect for when you need to take a break and relax. The replay value is low, but it's a nice distraction while it lasts.
Computer games can be funny!
Not loving Jazzpunk is as difficult as classifying it. Few games are this confidently weird, and even fewer manage to pull off anything even resembling humour. If you're looking to laugh a lot, and maybe even think about stuff just a little bit, give it a play. If you're looking to be a jerk in a movie theatre from the comfort of your own home, the game will also cater to that need. It's weird that way, and apparently so are you.
In many respects, Jazzpunk's systems are unremarkable. Its puzzles are rudimentary, its interactions mostly basic and its tasks are often wilfully mundane. At times, it attempts jokes that miss their target, sometimes by a distance. And yet such is its fearless, relentless commitment to amusing you and surprising you that you'll know something better – or perhaps just something weirder – is just around the corner. Anarchic, baffling, sometimes downright silly, and often inspired, Jazzpunk works tirelessly to make you laugh and gasp. The frequency with which you'll do both is a testament to a bold new talent, and Necrophone Games deserves all the plaudits that will be thrown its way in the coming weeks.
Jokes fly at the player like angry hornets from the hive, hinging on intimate knowledge of games like Warcraft II or Quake, and the references swarm and sting. There are more than enough punchlines, but there's too little setup.
Jazzpunk ends with an unconventional boss fight culminating in an excellent subversion of boss-battle tropes. If the whole game were as smart as the final confrontation, it'd be a much easier recommendation. As it stands, I still don't know whether its worst jokes are intentionally bad or not.
A hilarious "adventure comedy," set in a cyberpunk universe amidst Cold War frenzy.