GOTY 2014 - Top Ten - #3

Here it is: our list of the top ten games of 2014. The result of dozens of hours of preparation, discussion and debate, this list represents our consensus on the ten best and most-significant games of the year. Don't miss out on any of our Game of the Year coverage. Check out our full schedule here, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for instant updates.

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Jazzpunk

Necrophone Games | February 7, 2014 | Windows, OS X, Linux

Comedy games have been popping up pretty frequently in the past few years. From the ever-quotable Portal (and its sequel) to the brooding satire of The Stanley Parable, it's a great time for the subgenre. 2014 was no exception, and of a field of comedic competitors, Jazzpunk is the game that made it to our Top Ten.

In all honesty, I can't attempt to describe playing Jazzpunk with any hope of doing it justice. At its core, it's an adventure game, and a very simplistic one at that — indeed, it may well be the simplest game on our list this year. The way the game handles or feels, however, is completely beside the point; the vivid, charming world you explore is the real joy of the game. It's an eclectic little game with a lot to discover. Gaffes and gags are packed in around the edges of every level, waiting to snatch away anyone who strays from the trail of objectives.

Actually I take it back; "eclectic" is too mild of a description for Jazzpunk. "Zany" doesn't quite hit the mark. The best phrase I can think of is "completely fucking manic."

Jazzpunk buzzes with energy, bouncing from joke to joke like a superball loosed in the International Space Station. There's no downtime, no dull moments -- every level begs to be explored in full, so that every last sight gag and minigame can be enjoyed. History and film are both happily lambasted (the Cold War and Blade Runner are easy examples), but the meat of Jazzpunk lies in the surreal tribute it pays to video games as a medium. The result is like a barbed love letter read at a roast, or like a teasing joke told between two friends who won't mistake each other's intent.

It's like Qua-ee-aake on your wedding day.

Where last year's #4–The Stanley Parable– wasn't afraid to be unforgiving and dark with its commentary, Jazzpunk never delves beyond harmless fun. In a year laced with shitty news in general, and in the video games industry particularly, Jazzpunk is a welcome reminder about the good that can be found in our chosen medium. Jazzpunk is silly, gleeful fun that everyone can enjoy.

Sometimes, that's all you need.– Spencer Tordoff