Jazzpunk Director's Cut (2014)

Jazzpunk Director's Cut (2014), written and directed by Luis Hernandez and Jess Brouse, developed by Necrophone Games, published by Adult Swim

Jazzpunk is the kind of a game you either like or dislike. I can't really see there being anything in between, as you are either drawn to its bizarre, jokey world or you just quit after realizing what kind of a game it is with its at times low brow humour and absurd game missions. Me, I liked it because of its absurdity and attitude. I didn't necessarily find it drop-dead funny, but I did chuckle a couple of times. so that's something I guess.

Agent Polyblank, that's you, arrives at the office via luggage conveyer belt at the airport in order to get his mission. Your missions, you choose to accept, vary from breaking in a Soviet embassy, following an American man in Japan, going on holiday and saving your boss from a kidnapper. I'm not spoiling anything, mind you, as there's no real story here, just things that happen because they need to happen so that you could do something.

As such, Jazzpunk belongs to a very underutilized niche in games, which is the parody genre. There are parodic games like No One Lives Forever, but usually, in those, the gameplay itself is pretty serious, like in the case of No One Lives Forever, which is, in the end, a serious shooter, despite it being a Bond spoof.  Jazzpunk doesn't only offer a parody story, the world it has and the missions it contains are all parodies of something.Playing Jazzpunk is an equivalent of watching a Naked Gun movie, which despite being a cop movie can't be taken seriously as a cop movie, as it pokes fun at the expense of the genre as well as other genres as well.

So like I said, as it often is with any kind of humour, you either like Jazzpunk or don't. It simply isn't a game you can play, despite it's a pretty short at that, if you don't find its humour at least amusing, if not laugh out funny. All the side missions, be them pigeon hunting or odd FPS spins like the Pizza themed game where you slice and dices pizza men or the wedding-themed one, where you fight using wedding paraphernalia.

The main missions in Jazzpunk are pretty straightforward, propelled by simple puzzles. The actual meat to the silliness comes in the form of exploration of the levels, as each mission takes place in a specific location filled with all kinds of things to do and discover. You can, if you want, go the main missions through as fast as you want, but to really get all out from Jazzpunk it's recommendable to really spend some time looking through the levels for all the little jokes and things you can do.

Graphically Jazzpunk reminds me quite a bit of pop art, with all its bright colours and contrasts. While the 3D models are relatively simple, the texturing is cartoonish in style. In either by design or inability to model actual humans, all the characters in the game are simple cutout types that resamble little cookie people. Even this works in the for the favour of the game, adding to its already quirky sense of humour. And in the end, sometimes simpler is better.

Another interesting aspect of the game is the voice acting, that at times sounds like a computer generated, at times heavily modified humans. The dialogue, or at least the most important parts of it, are shown on screen, but the characters do prattle on other things as well, so paying attention is a must, at least if you are hunting for jokes. It all is very peculiar though and sounds relatively unique.

And that really does sum up Jazzpunk nicely: unique. That doesn't mean it's a game that everyone would like nor even think it's a good game. And I'm not even saying that it necessarily have much or replay value, especially after you manage to rummage it through for its many secrets. But it is worth a spin if you like the style.

If you want to check Jazzpunk out yourself, it's availble through GOG and Steam.