Much like Blendo Games' Gravity Bone or Thirty Flights of Loving, Jazzpunk also makes great use of editing to sell its theme. Rather than being the focus, though, these cinematic skits are rapid in their execution: a dramatic flourish to announce your infiltration, or a split-screen mission briefing that efficiently sets the mood.
The appropriation of filmic techniques doesn't mean that the humour is passive. Even the best modern comedy games, like Portal 2 or The Stanley Parable, regularly fall back on simply delivering their lines. If the secret to comedy is timing, it's easier to keep the player out of the equation. Jazzpunk is unusual in how often it lets you play inside the joke. You're regularly asked to be an active participant, trusted to stretch or delay the punchline for as long as you like.
Despite its disparate and surreal collection of jokes, Jazzpunk is kept grounded by the visual and audio design. It's a striking aesthetic - the thick black outline that surrounds each character gives the game a cartoon sensibility. Because of this, even the strangest flights of fancy feel in keeping with its style. Not that it's afraid to break its own rules. Throughout, certain NPCs are visualised as featureless black figures wearing white ties, which lets the player know that they're unimportant and don't offer any possible interactions. Except for when they do.
The soundtrack works equally hard to keep the game rooted in a particular theme, by more closely tying the retro and cyberpunk influences into something cohesive. Each area of a level is tied to a specific track, and all of them take the form of repetitive electro beats played with analogue synthesisers.
All of this – the design, the music, the jokes and the plot – combine to make a game that, despite all its absurdity, feels like a complete package. Not that any of it would matter if it wasn't so consistently and refreshingly funny. While I occasionally encountered jokes that didn't work for me, it never soured the experience. Playing Jazzpunk, you always know that you're only a few steps away from something that will make you giggle.
That Jazzpunk so frequently caused me to laugh is a sign that it's a great comedy. That, days later, I'm still desperately fighting the urge to blurt out its best moments is a sign that it's a remarkable, unique and lasting one too.