Jazzpunk is a bizarre adventure that makes no sense and that’s what makes it so mesmerizing and undeniably charming.
To a certain extent, Jazzpunk can’t be classified in any existent genre, since this is one of the most unconventional and utterly absurd titles I’ve ever played. If you asked me to describe Jazzpunk in a few words, I would say that it’s as a comedy adventure set in an alternate universe during the Cold War era. But this is also an exploration-based game akin to Proteus and Thirty Flights of Loving where the main objective isn’t necessarily to move forward, but to inspect everything around you. And the initial moments of the game prepare you for what’s ahead: a bizarre adventure that makes no sense and that’s what makes it so mesmerizing and undeniably charming.
There’s not a lot I can say in terms of story without ruining some of the surprises, so I’ll keep it short and simply. In this first-person game, you assume the role of spy known as Polyblank who needs to infiltrate in several soviet-controlled buildings to obtain valuable data or destroy caches. Interestingly, the story isn’t the star of the show, the game’s interactive nature is.
One of the best parts about Jazzpunk is that the game gives you the freedom to explore your surroundings however you want. Technically, you can always head to your next objective, completely disregarding everything in between. Or you can explore every nook and cranny and your inquisitive nature will be rewarded with multiple jokes, random gags and clever references to classic films and video games. In other words, every single aspect of Jazzpunk is there in service of its humor.
Exploring the environments means that you’ll unlock side-quests where you’ll shoot pigeons with a ray gun, locate marked mailboxes, play video games inside pizza boxes, remove bugs from someone’s body, listen to Spanish-speaking crabs, go to theaters to watch black and white films while smoking and… well, I guess you get the idea. Also, most of the gags involve random characters uttering non sequiturs which definitely contributes to the game’s sense of randomness.
But there’s more to Jazzpunk than random gags. First, there are allusions to classic films, such as The Shining, James Bond and Evil Dead, among many others. More importantly, there are references to classic games and most of these are playable tributes. None of these minigames are particularly well made (and I think it’s pretty safe to assume that this was intentional,) but they are hilarious. Since finding and playing them is part of the fun, I won’t detail any of them, but I will mention some of my favorites, which include Street Fighter, Wave 64, Frogger, Space Invaders and of course, how could I forget the terrific Quake Homage? Not only does Jazzpunk pokes fun at classic flicks and games, but also makes but of itself. Jazzpunk is a silly game and it knows it, so time and time again, you’ll notice that the game’s trying to break the fourth wall.
Jazzpunk is a short game (you can easily finish it in 2 hour or less,) but since part of the fun is finding all the gags and humorous references, there’s replay value involved. I ended up replaying specific chapters more than once and not only did I find new gags and jokes in every playthrough, but the ones I’d already seen were still funny. In fact, I was surprised that the game managed to remain fresh after replaying chapters a second and even a third time.
Jazzpunk’s unpredictable story, unconventional characters, unique sense of humor, gags that constantly break the forth wall, bizarre story and pleasant visuals make this a hilarious adventure that you’ll be sure to enjoy from start to finish. For the most part, Jazzpunk makes absolutely no sense, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t love every minute of this absurd adventure.