Jazz and Faust
Review by Skinny Minnie
As an adventure gamer I have never cared for lonely, first-person,
mechanical-puzzle Myst clones, obsessive pixel hunts, or
nonsensical puzzles that have nothing to do with a game's storyline.
I much prefer rollicking, story-driven adventures with unexpected
tale twists, plot-propelling inventory puzzles, and an overall
feel of mischievous fun. Having multitudes of gorgeous, exotic
locales to explore and many nonplayable characters to interact
with are definite pluses for me as well.
It is no surprise to me, then, that the high-seas hijinks of
the whimsical, straightforward-but-not-always-easy, story-driven
adventure game Jazz and Faust has me feeling that my ship
has come in! It is a tale that sails into jail breaks, kidnappings,
rescues, romances, harems, tavern brawls, wild-animal captures,
slavery, bribery, run-ins with the law, and even an opium den,
all with equal aplomb! At the same time, this game manages to
remain genteel and humorous in the style of its two lead characters.
All of its "action" scenes are completed via mouse-driven
inventory puzzle-solving, with no timed sequences anywhere. This
game actually presents itself entirely with a simple point-and-click
interface that requires little coordination or reflexes. Jazz
and Faust is one of the better new adventures I've played,
in contrast to many others that have cascaded unfinished into
the "probably never again" game pile all too quickly.
Although it stops short of becoming a personality classic like
Longest Journey, or the Broken Sword games, Jazz
and Faust does offer warmth and humor amidst its romping chaos.
It is a solid third-person adventure game with hundreds of objects
to manipulate, over fifty NPCs to interact with, and ninety jaw-dropping
scenes to go back and forth between that change from daytime to
It also has a plot device that has never been used to such an
extent in any other game I have come across; this device is actually
one of Jazz and Faust's biggest strengths. Two very differently
motivated characters travel through similar locales at similar
times but from very different perspectives. Their unique stories
slowly weave in and out of each other's and their paths even cross
in certain instances. Their lives also intertwine with a larger,
looming tale of family treachery, treasure, greed, curses, regret,
lust, and loves lost and found. You as the player will slowly
uncover the truth of this larger tale and bring to rights the
foul deeds of the past, but it will take playing twice through
the game, alternately as Jazz and Faust, to do it. Just
seeing each character's ending alone is worth the time put into
playing the game!
There are two distinctly different paths through this game that
you experience as you play each of the two lead characters through
to game's end in turn; it is your choice whom you wish to play
as first. I chose to begin as Jazz, the treasure-driven, incarcerated
thief and smuggler. That left honest, lovelorn sea captain Faust
for the second round. The larger back story affects both characters;
it just causes very different reactions and ideas in each of them
because of who they are as people, and makes one's play through
the adventure quite unique from the other's. Jazz and Faust are
each controlled in successive, straight passes right through the
game, the switch-off of characters being triggered by an unexpected
and amusing plot twist at the end of your first character's trip
through the adventure. Although Jazz and Faust visit similar locations,
their plot progressions, inventories, and the NPCs they meet are
quite varied for each character, even though everything is ultimately
woven into one larger yarn. You will visit Old England-like towns,
Turkish bazaars and palaces, underground mines, deserts and tropics,
but there is no traipsing through 95% of the same story and puzzles
over again just to see a different cutscene at the end of this
game, I can assure you!
Some of the locales Jazz visits are completely different than
Faust's and vice versa. Some of the chaos created by Jazz in his
run through the game is reflected in newspapers and NPC actions
during Faust's travels, too. Jazz and Faust even meet up with
each other at certain spots, although comically, Jazz's version
of events sometimes differs from Faust's view of what happens
Many of the inventory pickups are woven quite well into both
stories too, instead of being that ridiculous gaming situation
where your character blatantly grabs everything in sight for no
apparent reason while onlookers don't even appear to notice. In
Jazz and Faust you've got to sneak around unobserved to
take something you might need, trick or distract someone to get
something, move about in disguise, or make sensible trades. Showing
NPCs various inventory items often meets with quite differing
responsessome helpful, some funny, and some moody! At times,
they will even take you to task if you try something stupid, and
your lead characters will comment about it as well. Both Jazz
and Faust also give distinct explanations for picking up many
of the things they take, especially on questionable pickups. Faust,
for instance, takes a broken claw from a large scorpion he just
conquered, saying, "Well, I'd better take this as a souvenir
or no one will believe this happened to me!" Of course, you
may wind up using said claw somewhere entirely different, but
the initial explanation is a nice touch. I especially like that
Jazz's character is a thief to begin with, his chosen field woven
right into some of his inventory additions. Jazz also apologizes
when sneakily acquiring necessary objects, promising here or there
to attempt to return them, albeit "someday, if I get the
chance." Probably the nicest feature of all, though, is that
items that are no longer needed stay where they are last used.
Although inventory is constantly changing, there is never a bulk
of useless junk to lug around or scroll through!
Well, You'd "Rather Not Do That" Yet, Jazz, but
In many cases, care appears to have been taken not just in the
logical acquisition of inventory, but also in the correct timing
of its pickup or use. At first, this "everything has a time
and a place" method of adventure gaming really drove me nuts.
I have been brainwashed since the advent of the 1980s text-parser
adventure games into inexplicably behaving like an unabashed kleptomaniac,
with the uninhibited ability to try using said stolen items whenever
I want to. Not that it gets me anywhere, you understand, but few
games have actually stopped me from even identifying, picking
up or using certain things until there was a clearcut reason to
do so. Now, I do realize that most adventure games have always
been linear in their progression paths. Actually, as adventure
elements have invaded other genres like action games and RPGs,
they too have adopted the "one must have inventory item A
to successfully complete Quest 1 and continue to Quest 2"
mentality as well. Jazz and Faust merely adds a new twist,
called "no inventory item shall be manipulated before its
time." Jazz walks by a ladder leaning up against a house.
(I immediately shriek, "Climb it, climb it, climb it!")
He won't climb it because there is no reason for him to. He is
able to get to the top floor of the house by being invited inside,
and there's nothing up there he needs at this point anyway. ("Well
who cares, just climb it, dammit!") After a bit of scenic
trekking including NPC conversations and inventory discoveries,
alas, the blasted ladder finally reenters my mind as a viable
path with a useable inventory item above it that requires fetching.
Subsequently, Jazz amiably agrees to climb up.
Of course, the golden rules of adventure gaming do apply in Jazz
and Faust as well. Say Jazz is extremely stuck, sans story
progression, banging his head on an infamous door where nothing
ever changes no matter what Jazz tries in that evening scene.
This situation is purely hypothetical, I assure you. The hypothetical
gamer who buys the game the very day it hits store shelves knows
damned well, err, darned well that there are no walkthroughs available
yet. She therefore heads for the gaming forums seeking hypothetical
help or Valium, whichever she can find first. What exactly does
she encounter? Oh look, it's a seven-car pileup of Jazz and
Faust gamers surrounded by loud, in-unison "thumps"
of multiple Jazz characters thudding their collective heads against
identical doors ... ("Oh man, did I miss something during
the day in town? Oh no, all of my saves are at nighttime scenes!
What if I have to start the whole game over? No, no, it must be
a bug! A big, fat, horrible gaming bug ...") Is it a
bug? Well, for a certain hypothetical gamer, she finally discovered
by revisiting an earlier scene that she was merely missing the
boat on one inventory item and a second round of conversations
with certain NPCs. Naturally, those discoveries would go on to
trigger additional events. I guess you could say that might "bug"
her, hypothetically speaking.
You merely move your cursor around to interact with the game
world. The stationary arrow moves a character around within a
scene, and double-clicking makes him run at a spanking pace. The
cursor becomes a swinging spyglass if something can be examined,
a hand if an object can be picked up, a yellow dragon if conversation
is possible, and a compass where you can move to another scene.
Right-clicking brings up a large but very simple inventory screen
(see the last screenshot for an example), and one item at a time
can be scrolled through with the left and right red arrows. To
use an inventory object, just left-click on it, and it will show
up on the bottom right of the screen as the main large screen
disappears. Then just click where you want the item to be used.
When you pick up new items, they will briefly appear in the upper
left corner of the screen before disappearing into inventory.
You may save the game wherever you like; I would only use five
of the save slots, and keep covering them over. F5 and F6 keys
function as Quick Save and Quick Load, if you don't feel like
typing in save descriptions or using separate save slots. Hitting
the escape key brings up the main menu, from which you may save,
load, and also exit the game altogether. There is an auto-save
feature that continually saves over itself at the start of new
locales and it has its own separate slot, so you may still be
okay even if you are the lazy type and you run into trouble.
Even though the dialogs aren't as long as they could have been
and feel somewhat empty at times, both plots have a lot of surprises
just the same. The conversations in Jazz and Faust are
indeed short, but many adventure games that have multiple choices
in dialog must be hacked through only to find that many of them
have no effect on the story anyway. I like choices if it pivots
the game in a different direction or ending depending upon which
choice you make, but not so much if it doesn't. Much as I love
April Ryan, The Longest Journey just has too much extraneous
gabbing for me!
Jazz's stealthy personality, voice, dry wit and genteel manner
remind me somewhat of Rent-a-Hero's
humorous Rodrigo. Jazz's voice acting is quite good too. Many
of the other NPCs' voiceovers were decent as well, running the
gamut from Oriental tradesmen and Turkish royalty to elderly American
widows and Gaelic barroom brawlers. Faust, however, has a mostly
monotone voiceover that really falls flat. He verbally presents
an uninspiring contrast to Jazz's more lively and natural performance,
even though Faust's character is the one more prone to bold fighting
and occasional swearing. Faust's voice acting is one of the main
reasons that this game's grade is a thumb up and not a star.
The other reason for the dent in grading regards self-publisher
1C's translation of the game from its native Russian into English,
much as I am grateful for the effort as this is the only way I
could possibly experience their game. Here and there the English
phrasings are overly simplified or odd, although, that said, it
is still quite clear what needs to be done throughout the game.
I turned on the optional text dialog for many of the screenshots
so you can get a feel for the conversation quality yourself, but
I do wish I spoke Russian so I could experience the game in its
original and intended form and hear Faust's original character
voicing as well. Of course, this statement comes from the gal
whose bilingual capabilities are limited to writing English gaming
reviews from her "el desko." Nonetheless, I did take
a trip to 1C's Russian
homepage, which enlightened me as to the difficulty of this
Drugs and "Hookahs"
Actually, the only major conversational confusion I had in the
whole game had precious little to do with the translation and
everything to do with my inexperience inside of Turkish opium
dens. At one point, one of the NPCs therein remarked to Jazz that
he was stressed out and needed a "hookah!" Once I was
able to get up off the floor and back into my computer chair,
I decided to do a tiny bit of web research. Hence, I was able
to blot out my original "red light district" thoughts
and learn that hookahs are Turkish water pipes that function as
smoking devices for whole-leaf, wet tobacco. They are lit with
hot coals held in metal tongs. Congratulations, for now you know
everything I will ever want to know concerning opium dens.
Nothing to Bug You in the Background
Tiny visual touches such as bugs buzzing around lit lanterns,
smoke piping out of chimneys, gorgeous, rippling azure waters,
and squawking turkeys wandering the marketplaces all show remarkable
attention to detail. Owls soar across the night sky, NPCs wave
fans in the heat, and anchored ships have sails that flap gently
in bay breezes. Graphic details and textures are incredible. They
reflect smooth glass, puffy clouds in streaky blue skies, cracking
plaster walls, grainy woods, marble tiles, shiny brass, and rusty,
beaten, jail cell bars. Similarly to The Longest Journey, though,
the blocky character models don't look as good as the backgrounds.
Character movement is quite fast if you double-click on where
you want to go instead of single-clicking for a slower character
gait. I would say that Jazz and Faust's movements are visually
typical of many third-person games, except if you compare them
to something like the third-person character gait in Morrowindthen
both Jazz and Faust become poetry in motion by comparison. Faust
especially does have the quirk of brushing off his pants if you
leave him standing around, though. Scene changes load extremely
fast; turn away or blink a couple of times and you're in a different
The synthesized, new-age music is relaxing, positive, and original
to the game. It is refreshing not to hear the stereotypical "yo-ho-ho"
seafaring tunes one would usually associate with a sailor's game.
Sound effects are actually quite good as well. Wooden boats creak
when anchored in harbors, change clanks as it goes into pockets,
water laps upon shorelines, and footsteps change tone depending
upon whether they are passing over sand, stone, or wood. Even
the cursor icons have audible reminders; the hand icon offers
a dual clicking sound that alerts you further to inventory items
lest you miss the visual cursor change, and the swinging light
cursor sounds a bit like an electric guitar's wah-wah pedal. Voices,
sound effects and music can all be lowered or raised in the options
menu, and shadows and video options can be adjusted there as well.
Time and Timing
It took me about 14 hours to finish Jazz and Faust, but
Jazz's side is more complex and time-consuming than Faust's side,
which has puzzles that seem too straightforward and easy. However,
obsessive pixel hunting, mazes, timed sequences, and sliding tile
puzzles are nowhere to be found in Jazz and Faust, making
it a little more unique in today's adventure gaming landscape.
The droves of inventory puzzles that it does offer mostly make
sense and are organic to the story; as movie cutscenes are almost
nil, it is the puzzles that actually move the story forward almost
continually. Having to wait until an action makes sense or waiting
until you are actually requested to do something before you do
it does add a sense of logic to the game, once you get the ants
out of your pants at any rate.
Windows XP did play Jazz and Faust without one single
crash or freeze on my Athlon XP 2100+ system with an ATI All in
Wonder 8500 128 meg DDR video card and 1 gig of DDR system RAM.
I have heard from one WinXP player, though, who mentions one spot
in Jazz's travels and one spot in Faust's where if you move them
to a far corner, each character gets stuck there and can't get
out. I have not encountered that myself, though.
So much care has been taken in the graphics, sound, puzzles,
and explanations of story and inventory in Jazz and Faust that
I find it hard to believe the language barrier hasn't affected
the depth and translation of the exact dialogs into English in
a negative fashion. Still, if you like sweet, genteel heroes who
absolutely cannot die and humorous, third-person adventure games
filled with inventory puzzles and devoid of gore, it's certainly
worth the price of admission.
Developer: 1C Company
Publisher: 1C Company
Release Date: June 2002
Four Fat Chicks Links
Pentium II 300 MHz (Pentium 400 MHz recommended)
32 MB RAM (64 MB RAM recommended)
4 MB 3D video card (16 MB 3D video card recommended)
16-bit stereo DirectX compatible sound card
Where to Find It
Links provided for informational purposes only.
FFC makes no warranty with regard to any transaction entered into
by any party(ies).