There’s a ten minute span in Jazzpunk in which you will be transported to a world of pizza, see the ramifications of playing arcade games in real life, and intentionally cause the deaths of at least a half dozen innocent citizens roaming a city. This ten minute period will likely be the first ten minutes you spend with the game. Welcome to Jazzpunk.
Exploring the world of Jazzpunk is like opening up the creators brain, and crawling around a bit to see what’s stirring inside. There’s some weird stuff in there, not all of it’s Grade A material, but there’s so much to see it’s absolutely worth taking the journey. If you ever wanted to see what goes in inside the head of an oddball comedy writer, for better or for worse (it’s almost all for the better), Jazzpunk is a thing that exists now.
The game drops you into several different environments under the faintest guise of a story (you’re a secret agent doing some secret missions somewhere for some reason), and basically acts as a sandbox for various gags you’re meant to find. Maybe you’ll run across a pizza box, a frog, or some eggs. Chances are, they’re going to end up giving you a chuckle, because there’s bound to be some utterly stupid result from clicking on them. It’s a game about dumb jokes and silliness, and it holds its end of that bargain for nearly its entire 3 hour running time. A few of the jokes grow tired by the end, but there’s still new things to see, even as the credits are rolling.
I’m being intentionally vague about what you’re actually doing, because to say too much would be to ruin the experience. There’s definitely a mass of things you’ll remember after you’ve finished it, and more often than not they’re things you’ll run to ask your friends if they stumbled across in their playthrough. The result of the madness comes as close as we’ve seen to Airplane! or The Naked Gun in video game form, and I’m really happy to play pretend as a virtual Leslie Nielsen. A few of the jokes lean too heavily into “randomness for randomness’ sake” for me, but that’s the nature of something as subjective as comedy. I also thought that the later areas in the game didn’t hold up to some of the first ones, but there was still enough to elicit a laugh and a recommendation, even when the laughs became more sparse.
The actual playing of Jazzpunk is similar to the way you play The Stanley Parable. You’re given an environment to explore, and however long you choose to spend with it determines how much you’ll see. I thought I had seen most of what the game had to offer until I returned to it after the final area. In the first area alone, I had missed over a half-dozen jokes simply because I had never seen some of the objects hidden in that area. There’s plenty to come back to, and I see myself revisiting some of the best areas to see just what exactly I’m sure to have passed over.
If a comedy sandbox sounds like something you’d be into, check out Jazzpunk right here for $15. Good comedy games are tough to come by, and the laugh-per-minute ratio in Jazzpunk is enough to give it a solid thumbs up. The sheer amount of gags on display here is mind-boggling, and when you think you’ve found everything, you haven’t. It’s guaranteed to make you smile, and there’s a part where you slice up pizza zombies inside a computer. What else are you looking for?