Aesthetically a masterpiece, gameplaywise not so much
The game is NOT suitable for EPILEPTICS and can cause SEIZURES
Jazzpunk (2014) is the first game developed by Necrophone Games that was published on Steam. While the art and sound design both are amazing, it ultimately falls short in gameplay, narrative, and cohesion. After the more than stellar introduction to the game’s world, players spend the rest of this two hour long spy comedy pretty much walking around while the premise disappears further and further into the background and the jokes start to wear thin around the middle of it all. Players slip into the role of secret agent Polyblank in a Cold War-esque world and have to retrieve things from the enemy so his organization can do other things. None of it matters, however, as players will shortly lose investment in the story altogether.
Sadly, the game lacks an appealing, overarching game mechanic but also misses both agency and payoff to compensate for that – meaning that at the end, there is not a whole lot to talk about. Around the third mission, Kai Tak Beach Resort, things start to turn dull as players realize that they have basically seen everything and that the game is not headed anywhere. There are no puzzles, perils, or high points. The areas feel disconnected, talking to non-player characters leads nowhere, several gags are not linked to anything, and some of the quips don’t have any punchlines to them, with a number of them simply referring to things that only make sense if one knows the source material. The Frogger, Space Invaders, and Wave Race segments try to bring variety to the monotony, but end up feeling very alien, as if they are only in the game because the developers knew how to program them.
I would love to say more about this game, sadly, there isn’t much more to say. Necrophone Games and Adult Swim Games did a phenomenal job with the audio-visual presentation in Jazzpunk. Sadly, as there isn’t anything to do in the game, there also isn’t too much to revisit or to remember either. In my initial playthrough it took around two hours to complete the story and another 2.3 hours to play through it again, this time getting the achievements I missed and attempting to get out of bounds. The game definitely starts off strong and maybe future titles will be able to build on that momentum to create a truly great experience.
The game is a 6 spy adventures out of 10
Where to get
Jazzpunk is available as digital downloads either on various platforms like Good Old Games or Steam for $14.99 USD or your local equivalent.
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All screenshots taken by me during my playthrough and recorded using the Steam Overlay feature.