My quest for hidden gems: Jazzpunk

quest

I sometimes buy game bundles that come with a bunch of codes for games I never even looked at before… or I can’t resist that sweet tempting “mystery game for 0.20 €” offer. Either way, these games are often not even looked at once I have them (well, more so for the bundled games than the one I actually did buy even if I didn’t know what game it will be). I figured I should devote this column here to these games. On the one hand, it makes me actually look at the game and on the other hand, sometimes I buy bundled games because I want to get game A and then I end up ignoring it because one of the other games in the bundle turns out to be much more fun!

I have a bunch of games that qualify for this column and wasn’t sure which one to pick. Then I saw something that looked… weird… but the name sounded rather bland, actually. So this is what I chose: Jazzpunk by Necrophone Games. I bought it as part of a bundle with Overlord.

Let’s take a look at the game: The introduction video sequence is very… colourful, at least. But it doesn’t tell me what this game is about. I actually only read this one sentence before jumping into the game:

“Jazzpunk is a comedy adventure set in an alternate reality Cold War World, plagued with corporate espionage, CyberCrime, and sentient martinis.”

I decided not to read too much about each game before playing it. Without much prior information, I figured I would experience the game in a much less biased way. I made one mistake here, though: I should at least check whether a game is in first person view or not, because it does give me nausea. Jazzpunk’s graphics are very basic, and putting mouse sensitivity on very low lets me play this game for a bit longer than other games before I need to take a break. But the next games I will look at will not be in first person view. It’s just not fun to play and write about a game that makes you feel sick, right? But something still made me want to give it a try, at least.

In the opening scenes, I see that I apparently flew in (to where, I don’t know… but there are Asian symbols, I think…) in a man-shaped suitcase. Very subtle, right? And then I am… somewhere… and get my first mission from a guy who claims to go to his wine cellar after briefing me but actually just lay down to sleep on the floor behind his desk. I have to take some kind of pill for the first mission to start. No idea what that part is about, really. I assume I would find out later on in the game.

jazzpunk intro

Now the bad part is that the voices are all kind of hard to understand and there is no option for “real” subtitles. In most cases, there is a short line repeating what the characters said in a short sentence. But still, a lot gets lost unless you have the sound up and understand them.

Bookahnerk was watching me play and remarked that it seems to be similar to the Stanley Parable. I guess that’s right as I still don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. My task was to infiltrate a building, but that’s the only pointer I got. It’s not like Stanley Parable in that a speaker narrates what I’m doing. Instead, in Jazzpunk I can actually interact with objects and after using a copy-machine for taking pictures of my character’s naked butt, I used a picture on the wall (with a face, not a butt) to fool a camera-activated door to open for me. So it is a puzzle adventure game, but the atmosphere reminds me of Stanley Parable. Jazzpunk tries to stay light-hearted with silly jokes, though. One more example: The room where I took butt-pictures also has two microscopes. One let me play asteroids. No, it doesn’t make any sense, but it was fun! Too bad it was just one level.

I played through the first mission now after looking for a walkthrough online. I admit, I suck at puzzle games, but I still like playing them once in a while. My usual method is to try to figure out how to solve it on my own first and when I get stuck, I look at a walkthrough. My main motivation is not to solve everything on my own, but to get some entertainment value out of it which means that the storyline also has to be good. Fortunately, this seems to be the case here. Of course, having done only the first mission (with help), it’s a bit early to say the story is fantastic or even whether the story will still be good later on. But at least, there seems to be an overarching story behind me doing these missions.

The downside of this game is that even though the graphics are simple, I cannot play the game for longer than 10 minutes at a time. I wish I could, though! It’s silly and seems to be done really well. The interface is confusing at times, though. It says to hit X to cycle through my inventory, but when I picked up a second item, the first item was not in my inventory anymore. Instead, I later found a cereal box that I had already picked up and emptied on the table again just as if I had never even touched it.

Since I cannot really delve into the game longer, I’m looking at the Steam reviews: The game recently got 99 % positive reviews. The overall percentage of positive reviews is at 90 %. So, if you like puzzle games and weird silly stories, this seems to be a great choice! But only if you can play with first person view. For me this one simple thing means that it is not a gem and I will uninstall it again.

Making friends in Rift and Guild Wars 2

Last week, Rift’s expansion “Starfall Prophecy” launched and yesterday, Guild Wars 2 released another content patch. Both games made me very happy as the patches feature my most favourite animal ever. Guess what animal that is!

No, not dogs. Although that’s true. Not rabbits either, although those are also my favourite animal. But no, my third “favourite animal”: Dragons!

Guild Wars 2 added a baby dragon, Aurene (not with this patch, but with a previous one – or else I wouldn’t mention her here as I do not want to add spoilers just one day after the patch’s release!). But seriously, a baby. dragon. How cute is that? I feel like Hagrid with Norbert!

Baby dragon Aurene in Guild Wars 2

And in Rift, there’s Tasuil. A dragon who at the beginning of the expansion story gets into trouble, because he accidentally broke something. Again, I don’t want to add any spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that. But I felt so bad when Tasuil kept apologizing. The poor thing didn’t want to do any harm, after all! It was an accident.

Rift Tasuil Dragon

To top the cuteness overload of dragons, you can apparently earn Mini Aurene in Guild Wars 2. I assumed ArenaNet would add her to the shop to be bought with real money, but the pieces needed to get the Mini are crafted! I definitely have to get that one as fast as possible!

If only Rift gave us a mini Tasuil as well… on the other hand, he’s disguising himself as a corgi while we’re out exploring the comet. I guess that counts for something as well, right? And while he’s with me, I can take out one of my mini corgis to have two corgis with me.

Tasuil disguised as corgi

More Starfall Prophecy Tokens in Rift

When the expansion was first announced, Trion told us that we would get a Starfall Prophecy token each day when claiming our daily login chest. The main goal for players was to get Opie, a tiny squirrel mount that lets you reach artifacts more easily (if they’re hidden in hard to reach places). But it costs 50 tokens, so you would have had to pre-purchase the expansion 50 days ago to get that mount. The expansion comes out on Wednesday next week, but Trion just announced that they prolonged the login tokens and now if you pre-purchase, you get tokens for 60 days more giving you enough to get your own Opie mount (and you can even miss 10 days). I think that’s pretty nice, especially as we now know much more about the expansion and players can choose more easily whether they want to make the investment or not.

rift opie mount

If you don’t care about a mount, there is the “Sack of Infinite Void” that increases your inventory slots by 40 which costs 20 tokens. It’s unique per character, but account-bound, so you can hopefully collect the tokens with one character and buy the bags for your alts. For 15 tokens, you can also get a “Tenebrean Mystery Box”, but nothing is known about the content yet. Apparently, we need to wait until the expansion’s launch. On the other hand, since we will still get tokens after the expansion launches, the vendor will also still be around, so we can keep the tokens and wait until more is known about the box’s content. This is what I’ll be doing, at least. I have one Opie and as cute as it is, I have so many other mounts that I love using that I don’t really need this mount on my other characters. I also don’t go artifact-collecting that often. And let’s not forget that in order to use those special jumps with Opie to reach artifacts more easily, you need to feed it with pellets which are supposed to be kind of rare in the game. So the bag and maybe the mystery box sound like the better choices for me.

Rift: Waiting for the expansion with the primalist

Starfall Prophecy, the next expansion in Rift, will launch on November 16. That’s not too far away now! So whenever I log in with my main character, my cleric, I just don’t feel too motivated playing her. Since I bought the primalist last month, I thought I should probably play her a bit more. She is now level 18 which is basically nothing, as you can level really fast below level 60 by just doing “instant adventures”. These are open world quests that you do with whoever else signed up for instant adventures (if such a group passes you in the open world, the game even suggests joining them if you like). In between these quests, you get teleported to wherever you need to get to, so you don’t need to worry about travelling or anything. In theory, this sounds great. In reality, it is a boring grind-fest with no challenge except for some bosses which appear. Not that they themselves are too challenging, but if your group lacks a healer, they are. :p

Still, I like doing them once in a while because it’s easy and doesn’t require too much thinking. My primalist had a melee build, but I soon switched to ranged (Maelstrom as primary soul which is a single target ranged DPS), because the mobs die too fast and it’s just frustrating having to run to mobs all the time just to see them get killed right in front of your eyes by everybody who isn’t melee.

rift primalist in instant adventures

The primalist has a special class feature. Certain skills move the class bar to either Cunning or Fury. Some skills get boosted when you’re in Cunning or in Fury. So I guess I will have to watch that bar at some point… at the moment, I don’t notice it, but with level 18, I only have a few of the skills and abilities unlocked anyway. It reminds me of the Runekeeper in Lord of the Rings Online which has a similar mechanic called attunement. I played Runekeeper before I switched to my little hobbit warden as I liked playing a tank more than playing an elf healer. But back to the primalist: She’s okay. Maybe even fun, but I’ll have to see what it’s like in a higher level. It could also be a bit annoying having to watch that fury-cunning-meter all the time and having to memorize which skills move the meter into which direction.

Either way, come next week I will be playing my cleric in the new regions, so it’ll be a while before I get to find out more.

Giving Skyrim another chance

It’s been years since I last played Skyrim. While I generally like being able to use mods for a game, I don’t really like having to rely on them to enjoy playing. The way I’m using my PC, I absolutely need a windowed mode when playing a game and I cannot stand the regular non-windowed mode. On top of that, there was some bad mouse lagging in Skyrim and no matter what I did, I could not fix it. The Special Edition does not seem to have this issue anymore, so hurrah for that! And the game now has a borderless windowed mode which does not work exactly as I would imagine, but it’s good enough to at least give Skyrim another chance. When I am in the game and want to e. g., switch to my browser, I have to click with an invisible mouse hoping that the mouse is actually outside of the game. Otherwise, I just attack whatever is standing in front of me… oops. So, this mode still isn’t working too well, but I think I can handle it (opening settings before switching out, for example).

My main problem – as always – was trying to figure out what kind of character I would want to play now. I considered re-creating my lizardlady that I had when I first started playing Skyrim, but I wanted to start “fresh” with a different character. I am not a fan of elves, so those were out immediately. That left the cat-like race, the orc and the zillion different human kinds. I finally chose a redguard and started playing her. I figured playing something more “like me” (at least, more like me than a cat or a lizard :p) would be easier to roleplay. But as soon as I started, I knew it was a mistake. All I could think of was: She’s missing something in her face… like… teeth. Sharp pointy little teeth like the orc lady I had considered choosing during character creation.

skyrim female orc character

So yeah, I now have an orc lady! I mostly see her from behind anyway, but knowing she’s not a regular boring human is good enough for me already. I guess I should add “boring humans” to the elves above. No boring elves or humans for me!

The next question is what kind of playstyle I want, although I chose sword and shield for the time being – I’m still at the beginning of the game – because it’s often the easy and carefree playstyle. Perfect when I want to concentrate on the actual world and not having to try to stay alive in fights. So I am all set now, I guess, and can finally go on my adventure – while perfectly ignoring all the other issues I had with the game years ago. Now that I know what to expect from the game, I am sure I will not be disappointed anymore. :)