Jazz TimeBy Keavon Chambers, Conor Walsh, Gabriella Santiago, Joe DeLuca, Yu Park, Nathan Ybanez

The Great Engine has ground to a halt, parts are missing, smoke is everywhere! Is that guy’s hair on fire??? The inner workings are so incomprehensible, it’ll take years of expert analysis to figure out how to fix all of this. Panic! Fish! Despair!

Well, the economy aside, there is some good news: your time machine is broken, and that’s waaaay easier to understand how to fix.

What if we fixed the economy.. gave everyone houses.. Just Kidding… Unless?

Jazz Time is a ridiculous comedic romp through the roaring 20s, your time machine having ‘crashed’ (into) the economy causing the great depression. Clearly such ahistorical meddling would be utterly catastrophic for our Very Normal, extremely orderly timeline, so it’s up to you to set things straight and undo all the horrible damage you’ve done on your way back to the good new days, the year 2012!

An eclectic mash-up of the high fidelity “Stonk” market exchange by Keavon Chambers and Nathan Ybanez runs in striking contrast to Gabriella Santiago’s lovable cast of 2D personalities resplendent with cartoonish manic exchange brokers, hardship-enduring vagabonds, rats, mobster goons, and decadent flappers who haven’t quite gotten the memo that their bank accounts are more dry than their contraband martinis. It’s a lovely over the top exploration of one of the darker parts of modern American history, reminding us just how fragile the infrastructure we take for granted is when everyone passes the buck and nobody wants to take responsibility.

In all this pandemonium, if only some kind of massive industry tycoon hoarding the world’s wealth could step in to provide relief or a fumbling politician would step in with some kind of New Deal, we’d all be better off. Oh well, it’s up to you!

At the heart of every narrative driven game is a good writer- a role often taken for granted despite the high value it provides both in entertainment and holistic composition. Fun loving visuals aside, Conor Walsh’s humorous satire turns a game jam portfolio piece into a memorable comedic journey that rivals the punchy shrewd quest lines found in any classic adventure title.

With an incredibly dense slow-burn plot, Jazz Time is a piece that reminds us of our systemic follies without pointing the blame or driving us into the depths of melancholy; it’s an upbeat self-aware vignette that punches far above its weight class. While it may be rare to find compact experiences that deliver jokes with earnest finesse, it’s lovely to see a small team pull it off with such care and joyful style.

If the state of the world has you down and you’re in for a little bit of gallows humor, Jazz Time may be the reprieve you’re looking for. Who knows, maybe there’s a magic button that will solve everyone’s problems, assuming there’s anyone around who knows how to push it.

Emily Rose is an indie developer who writes for and resides in the pacific northwest. She’s often seen in the local VR arcade and developer community participating in pushing the medium’s horizons. You can find her on twitter @caravanmalice