Jazz and Faust, which is developed by the Russian game studio Saturn+, puts the player in a middle age-like world full of pirates and treasures. The game orients itself at adventure classics of other software houses, so similarities to Lucas Arts “Monkey Island”-series are obvious, even though the game does not achieve this quality.
Contrary to the present development the game is a classic “point & click”-adventure, a game type which action and strategy titles appreciably pushed in the background during the last years.
In the beginning of the game the player is situated in the village Er-Elp, either as the sailor Faust or the cunning smuggler Jazz. During the game both of these characters visit the same locations, however in a changed order or under different circumstances. This feature gives the player the opportunity to see the world of Jazz and Faust with two different pair of eyes and may make the player start the game a second time to complete it with a different character.
During the game the player navigates through more than 70 different sceneries, including middle age European cities and desert ghost towns, trying to find the interactive elements of a scene and interacting with the numerous characters that can be found throughout the whole world of Jazz and Faust. Here however lies the largest deficiency of the game as it’s actually missing any real puzzles as known of the famous Lucas Arts and Sierra titles. The tasks the player has to perform on his ways across the pirate world are mainly limited on using the correct item with the correct NPC or interactive element.
Dealing with the graphics the title can convince the gamer, so the well-rendered backgrounds are very detailed and the numerous elements taken from Russian and Asian architecture result in an authentic world and make it easier for the player to identify with the game action. Unfortunately the games resolution is limited to 640x480 pixels.
The animations of the characters are not convincing, in some situations (climbing stairs, etc.) their low speed is hindering a fluent gameplay, as they cannot be skipped. In addition to these points the interactive items hardly differentiate from the background so the player sometimes needs to track the whole screen until he found a certain item.
The inventory system is realized very well and is by far superior to Lucas Arts last two adventure games (Monkey Island 4, Grim Fandango). A right click on the mouse pops up the inventory screen, and by left clicking on an item the player selects it.
However sound and music of the game again stay behind the competition. The monotonous background music and the dull sound effects cannot create a certain kind of tension.
In our version speech was only integrated in the well rendered beautiful looking cutscenes.
Even if I personally hope Jazz and Faust will give new life to the classic adventure game I did not really enjoy playing it.
The game lacks of atmosphere and the mentioned points of criticism surely affect gameplay in a negative way. A “hard-core” adventure gamer however may enjoy the game and spend some interesting hours in a world of pirates, treasures and mysterious places.