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Go! Go! GOTY! ~Day One~ (Jazzpunk)

I've not been keeping up with new releases this year. Some, sure, but not nearly as many as I would prefer, and as a result any big end of year GOTY blog from yours truly is going to look rather tumbleweed-y as of right now. Which is why I'm replacing the usual December Desura Dementia series with Go! Go! GOTY!: a title derived from present front-runner for Indie Game of 2014 Go! Go! Nippon! ~My First Trip to Japan~ (please note that this is a facetious accolade).

The purpose of Go! Go! GOTY! is to play through as many of the 2014 Indie games I have sitting in the various libraries of digital distribution clients in a desperate bid to fill out an eventual "GOTY 2014" list. The list itself, and the comics-"enhanced" awards blog that accompanies it, should be up around the 20th. At least, that's the date I'm aiming for, and when Go! Go! GOTY! is expected to conclude. After that, I'll almost certainly be too busy with Christmas stuff to worry about a daily series.

Every day of Go! Go! GOTY (I am already regretting that name) will contain a summary of whatever I've been playing over the past twenty-four hours. I hope to complete as many of these games as possible, but given I have at least twenty and maybe more to come if I keep buying up bundles, I suspect an equally large number will see a few hours of playtime and be disregarded in lieu of more pressing fare. Games I actually manage to complete will obviously get a more detailed appraisal.

So without any further ado...

Day One

No Caption Provided
  • Game: Jazzpunk
  • Source: Humble Indie Bundle 13
  • Started: 01/12
  • Ended: 01/12

Starting gentle, and with one of the more pressing items on the ol' Steam backlog, we have Necrophone Games's Jazzpunk, a first-person comedy adventure game. No doubt you've seen the QL for this game already (or have had plenty of time to check out the game yourselves), but to explain Jazzpunk succinctly would be to take something away from it. You are essentially tasked with completing a minor adventure game puzzle tangentially related to classic espionage tropes in order to complete each of the game's four scenarios, but it's rarely that cut and dry. The game is filled with incidental interactivity, side-missions, places to explore and dumb jokes to laugh at. There's references, satire, puns, slapstick, scatological and every other humor type under the sun, so chances are if one joke fails to land there's another just around the corner that will fare better. Personally, I found the hit/miss ratio of the jokes in this game to be unconventionally weighted towards the "hit" side, which is fairly notable when most video game humor is either kind of flat, forced or just dumb. And not necessarily in the fun non-pejorative sense of calling them dumb.

Man, so let me explain the three seashells (a reference everyone but Dan Ryckert will get).
Man, so let me explain the three seashells (a reference everyone but Dan Ryckert will get).

Obviously the natural ancestor of Jazzpunk would be the absurdist and joke-laden LucasFilm/SCUMM graphic adventure games of old. You could go even further back, with comedy text adventures often penned by Douglas Adams, but Jazzpunk and the SCUMM games are a largely visual medium with fewer moving parts than the entire English language to build jokes from, which makes it that much easier for its designers to anticipate the player's actions and set up jokey conclusions in advance to cater to every possibility the player might devise. Most everything in Jazzpunk can be interacted with to some extent, though the player is generally limited in what they can do in the pure puzzle game sense. There's usually only a handful of items the player picks up, and most don't serve any additional purpose besides the core one it was built for.

That said, Jazzpunk does find time to insert plenty of additional "gameplay", for those desperate for more of it. Interludes like a hacker-based version of Frogger, a pizza survival horror, a microbiotic Space Invaders, a wedding-themed multiplayer shooter (named "Wedding Qake") and other allusions to classic games can be found by poking around a little, and "poking around a little" might as well be the game's mission statement. There's also a story, of sorts, so it isn't entirely just a series of unconnected non-sequitur scenarios where you run around degaussing pigeons, poisoning cowboys or tossing a red bandana, sais and a pizza onto some poor sea turtle on the beach. Like Gone Home, a motivated speedrunner could probably beat this within a few minutes (but hey, they could do that for the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time too). But like Gone Home, the appeal is definitely in exploring a bit and getting absorbed in the atmosphere (and humor, in Jazzpunk's case), however, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.

It's worth going all around the world. It's pun overload. Watch out for the ominous
It's worth going all around the world. It's pun overload. Watch out for the ominous "The Cube", sitting out in the Pacific Ocean.

Given what else I have on this list, I'm guessing it can only go down from here. Join me in finding out, won't you?

> Onto Day Two