Jazzpunk displays an amazing dedication to video game buffoonery
As budgets get larger and the ambitions of the industry’s most prominent developers tend towards the focused and cinematic its almost inevitable that we begin to compare games to film. Actually calling a game an 'interactive movie' though is an observation some might take as derogatory, it might put them off. However in the case of this game I think that comparison is what makes it so novel. The best part of Jazzpunk is how it takes the elements we enjoy from comedy movies and makes you a part of the fun.
Jazzpunk's sense of humour can most easily be equated to that of films like the classic Airplane!. The spotlight here is on the jokes and fuck me do they come thick and fast. It really is quite unique to see a game devote itself so singularly to one task, it is trying hard at all times to entertain you but crucially it never tries too hard. The scatterbrained silly humour of Jazzpunk's influences could easily devolve into just random nonsense but luckily it has its own internal logic of cyberpunk tomfoolery and sticks to it for all of its 2-ish hours in length.
Where this game innovates where other similar games don't is in how it gives you the opportunity to seek out and inhabit the jokes yourself, in a way other mediums can't. Like any other game it has a mainline story that you could run through pretty quickly, be amused and that would be that. But the joy here comes from exploring the levels and seeing all the other stuff the developer has packed away in all the little nooks and crannies.
Chances are if an object looks like it can be interacted with then it can and there'll ALWAYS be some kind of punchline. Jazzpunk however goes beyond just delivering a funny piece of wordplay or a clever reference. It does that but it also uses it's interactive nature to build larger, sillier, more player-influenced jokes. I don't want to spoil anything specifically but I think its fair to say Jazzpunk is just as aware of how to get guffaws from its gameplay as it is from it's writing.
Towards the end Jazzpunk does lose sight of itself just a little bit. It doesn't give up on its goal of bombarding you with japes but it does start to feel somewhat weary. It starts pushing you towards the conclusion quite hastily all the while presenting you with things that are just as offbeat as what has come before but have less of an entertaining payoff. The actual finale has a pretty funny idea driving it but its also the one time that Jazzpunk's comic dedication ends up hurting it. There is no build-up, no climatic plot points and no real ending to speak of. Just a joke and then roll the credits. Thematically it fits but at the expense of being satisfying.
Ultimately though the parts of the game I don't quite jive with make up an insignificant part of the experience. Unless its comedic stylings are just completely off-putting to you chances are you'll find more than enough laugh-out-loud gags in there to make up for it's price tag. Next time you feel like watching a comedy film, consider giving Jazzpunk a try instead. You might just end up having one of the most enjoyable times you have ever had with a game.