Video games by their very nature could be classified as a “gonzo” medium, you are placed in the role of the character and come to understand the motivation and perception of the protagonist and in the case of FPS games it’s pretty much the Gonzo porn of the gaming world. There is very little plot in many, you are looking through the eyes of the man holding the gun and spraying destruction everywhere you go. Somehow this is the point where I somehow feel a reference to Zardoz would be appropriate.
Despite the Gonzo nature of gaming there are very few games that capture the frenetic nature of Thompson’s work. That is not to say others have not created similar works, a couple that come to mind are Deadly Premonitions and the recent D4 (Dark Dreams Don’t Die) both designed by Hidetaka “SWERY” Suehiro give off a bit of that feeling but swerve more in to the realm of absurdism. I would contend that Jazzpunk (created by Necrophone Games and published by Adult Swim) is the first true Gonzo Game to embrace that role (and given the recurring Hunter S. Thompson avatars it would appear to be a self aware choice).
This is a game riddled with pop culture references, strange little clips of sixties film and advertising can be found in the game, audio from Blade Runner is spliced in to the scenes, and flying toasters cross your path!
It uses a sort of first person point and click interface where you move around the level interacting with the environment and stumbling upon the options, your first mission is to infiltrate the Russian Consulate and get a stolen tape, you are in an unknown city but as you wander the fairly small environment you find it’s actually layered with little details, jokes and asides like the hobo who tells you to look behind you or the secret mission involving a McGuffin literally called the McGuffin.
The game is practically a basket of Easter Eggs consisting of from a QR code to hidden levels to obscure recordings to weird interactions with the environment that are simply put a blast. There’s a story… sort of, but it’s really secondary to just living this experience through the eyes of Polyblank. I’m afraid to discuss too much for fear of sucking all the fun out of it but you can get this game from Steam or directly from the developer Necropone Games. The game costs $14.99 and is available for Windows, Apple, and Linux. Now, fair warning, the game is short. Depending on how you work through the game it can run anywhere from two to four hours, if this seems a bit of a pricey proposition for a Unity engine game at only four hours Steam may be for you as I’ve seen it go on sale a few times dipping to as low as a few dollars that being said this is an independent developer who’s really pushing the narrative and comedic boundaries of a medium that in recent years spent too much time taking itself far too seriously.
- Simple but elegant gameplay
- Interesting narrative experiment
- Hilarious and somewhat obscure references
- More Easter Eggs than the Cadbury Cream Egg factory
- Short for the price you would hope for more
- Some of the references could be a bit obscure