Most Original Game 2014: Jazzpunk


Check out our game of the year awards 2014 page to find out how the awards were decided.

Phil Savage: There’s a moment in the first level that, for me, perfectly captures what makes Jazzpunk so original. It’s an animation that plays as you climb through the window into the Russian embassy. You land in a roll, and a two-note musical fanfare announces your arrival. What’s great about it isn’t that it’s a funny entrance, but that it’s the only time you’ll see it happen in the game.

Game development, by necessity, values efficiency. Animations and assets need to be reusable. That’s what makes Jazzpunk so essential. It’s all about the random flourishes—the joy of discovering something new and unexpected. I played it with a constant sense of anticipation. Anything could be behind the next encounter, from a simple pun to a fully interactive minigame. Jazzpunk isn’t just ‘Most Original’ because it’s different from everything else, but also because it’s so consistently different from itself.

It’s funny, too, which is important in a game about comedy. Even the way it structures its jokes is different to other comedy games. Portal ’s humour is delivered in segments separate from its puzzles. Where Portal tells you a joke, Jazzpunk invites you to be a part of the joke It hands you control of a trigger that will detonate the next punchline. There’s a chance you’ll ruin it by botching the timing. It never matters. There’s always another joke, and another chance to be the catalyst for something hilarious.

Wes Fenlon: In a Repo Man world, where everything is given a generic white label like ‘food’ or ‘automobile’, Jazzpunk would be labelled—to borrow from Phil—‘random flourishes’. Jazzpunk fires bespoke jokes from a supercharged joke cannon at such a rapid pace that you can’t walk around for more than ten seconds before running into something completely unexpected. Sometimes the jokes are one-off soundbites or out-ofthe- way gags, but just as often they’re puzzles or the types of interactions that, in an ordinary game, we’d call missions. In Jazzpunk, they’re simply tools to break the fourth wall or serve up the next pun.

Jazzpunk is constantly playing with the medium. Sometimes 2D objects show up in its 3D environments. Sometimes you’re meddling with the flow of time. Sometimes you’re putting spiders in jars, which seems like a typical collection quest until you throw them in some poor bastard’s face. It wasn’t what I planned to do with the spiders, but what better way to complete an objective than that?

It took me months to play Jazzpunk, because I took a break between every level. I was always hungry for more, but at the same time, 20 minutes of Jazzpunk contains more laughs than most games. It felt criminal not to savour every one.

Andy Kelly: It’s when I interacted with some random wedding cake and found myself in Wedding Qake (sic), a fully featured deathmatch minigame echoing the golden era of 56k modem multiplayer, that I realised Jazzpunk was special. Its dedication to a single joke is impressive, and it made me laugh, over and over again, which few games ever have.

For our full verdict read our Jazzpunk review.

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