I only purchased a couple of games during this year's Steam Summer Sale, both of which I've been itching to try for a while. Neither disappointed, though they were both as different from each other as its possible to be, in genre, style and just about everything else.
First up was Necrophone Games' Jazzpunk. And now I'm kind of stuck, because I'm not quite sure how to describe this game. It's ostensibly a noir spy thriller set in some kind of 1960s parallel universe of robots and weird science. Except it's a noir-spy-thriller-set-in-some-kind-of-1960s-parallel-universe-of-robots-and-weird-science that has been directed by Gerry Anderson and scripted by The Mighty Boosh.
If that sounds a little weird, it still doesn't do justice to the acid-trip, madcap experience of playing Jazzpunk. It's loud, crazy and very funny, assuming you like surreal Pythonesque humour.
Despite the insanity, Jazzpunk as a game holds together pretty well, though it's more about the experience than telling any kind of true narrative. What makes the game fun is that you simply do not know what will happen next. Clicking on just about any object in the world can result in, well, just about anything.
You might click on a cardboard box and be rewarded with a groan-worthy joke. Then again you might just be thrown into a mini-game set inside a pizza where you have to fight off zombie mushrooms with a pizza slicer and a spatula.
Your enjoyment of the game will probably depend on how much surreal you like with your comedy nibbles, and how many of the seemingly hundreds of pop culture references you'll get. Wilhelm screams, classic games, and movie references abound. During my time in the mad, mad world of Jazzpunk I played a wedding themed version of Quake (Wedding Quake), met Hunter S Thompson, fought a ten-thousand year old demon hiding in a Carmen Miranda fruit hat, lost a round of crazy golf because I was playing with a pool cue, travelled through a crocodile's lower intestines, and beat up an old Honda. And that doesn't even begin to cover what lies in store.
A quick word for the sound design, which is superb, perfectly evoking old episodes of The Man From UNCLE and The Avengers.
The game is pretty short, and only took me around three hours to play through (and I clicked on just about everything I could), and the replayability factor isn't that high. If you can pick it up cheap however the uniqueness of the experience makes it a highly recommended purchase.
The other game I bought during the Steam Summer Sale was a very different experience. I'll write about that soon, but in the meantime here are some screenshots from my time as a cold war cyberspy.