IntroductionThere's something very satisfying about destruction. Office Freakout is a game published and created by Hollow Robot LLC, being released on Steam on the 27th September 2016. Now I don't know about you, my lovely reader, but I do like to have a good anger vent. What I mean by this is that I smash a couple of things up. Games actually bring me a lot of rage, mainly your average shooter, but there are times where I just need to stop myself and take a deep breath.
What I realised is that I needed a game to quench my need for rage. This game seemed promising. What it was going to offer me was the chance to vent my anger in a controlled, office space and working environment. But what I didn't expect was to come out of this game angrier than I was before I had begun playing it.
Don't get me wrong, I love to rip bad games to shreds. This will be no exception. You can purchase this game on Steam for $5.99
StoryThe game has you playing as a 40-something-year-old man named Philbert. I mean, I'm presuming he's 40-something, he does have a receding hairline and a name that makes him sound old. Either old or just boring and/or a fictional character. Anyway, Philbert is fired from his job, which he has been working at for quite some time. Now, like every person fired from a job without notice, Philbert decides to do the logical thing and destroy an entire office building, progressing to the main floor where he'll eventually kill his boss with a staple gun and a paper aeroplane, presumably. I never made it that far, I'll explain why later.
It's a simple plot, but to be fair that is expected by the styling of this game. All you're expected to do is to smash enough objects to fill the bar at the bottom of your screen. Once this has filled up to a certain point, a random item around the level will turn into a key. When this happens you need to find the key, destroy said object and make your way back to the beginning of the level. This is a fairly good system, however, the problem I have with it is that it completely ruins the flow of the game. I'll be in rage mode, a great system that doesn't really do anything as far as I'm aware, only to have to stop and plod around looking for a golden item that could be in a different room.
A game should never have its flow broken. Unfortunately, this happens frequently in Office Space. It's the only thing that can be considered a story by any extent, to find a key and open a door. It's not a good story, but regardless of that, it's a story nonetheless.
GameplayBeing that this is a destruction styled game, the emphasis is going to be on destruction. That being the case, it doesn't work very well. It's a unique idea, don't get me wrong, but the execution is poor. You have to destroy as much as possible, which is very hard to do when your framerate is at around two frames a second. Ironically the game runs pretty well when in the game, it's the menus and loading screens that are the problems.
There isn't anything wrong with the destruction itself, that part is actually quite fun when it works.
When loading the game, you are treated to some rather humorous quips in the loading screen. For example "We fired the loading bar" may get one or two chuckles if you're completely devoid of basic humour. Of course what comes up must come down, while the loading screens may be a bit funny, it isn't funny at how long the game takes to load. Every load screen no matter what it is loading will take a couple of minutes.
Every game nowadays seems to like a nice lengthy tutorial. This game is included in that rule but gives us a fairly entertaining tutorial thanks to an entertaining narrator. But again, what goes up must come down, you can actually jump and move around while the opening cutscene and tutorials play. This is a small thing, but it's still a thing that lets me rack up some more characters on the word count.
Of course, the levels are all on a time limit. I didn't notice in the earlier levels because you're given five minutes to work your way through an extremely condensed room. But again, the framerates make it impossible to actually do anything effectively. If you want to win the three golden turds then you're going to have to be very, very fast and extremely lucky. Yes, that's right, I did say three golden turds. I should probably explain that.
Like most point games go, you're expected to get "X" amount of points in "Y" amount of time. My only question really is why are games still using a points system? Ever since the NES and Super Mario Bros. points systems have been around. But never really served any purpose. In the arcade, it's a good way to keep track of every user that has played the machine and managed to get a credible score, but here it just seems tacked on. I suppose they needed something to bridge the gap between moving from A to B, but a points system was most certainly not the way to do this.
Sorry, got sidetracked. Golden turds. Right, well. Basically every time you hit a certain point score, you'll achieve one golden turd. Think of them as bronze, silver, and gold, but they're all gold for a reason that is never explained. Also if it's explained as to why they're golden turds, I never made it that far. Much like the golden turds, Office Freakout is just a turd.
I mentioned this in the story section but I should mention it here also. The entire game revolves around this:
Destroy, grab the key, exit, win the level, repeat.
But of course, you'll be hindered by the enemies in this game. Well, I say hindered, they're a minor inconvenience, an annoyance at best. Again much like searching for the key, they are put in place to slow down the gameplay. Of course to really make sure these enemies are annoying the developers decided to add in a mechanic that makes you instantly die if they grab hold of you. Now most of the time you'll be able to break free, but sometimes you won't be so lucky.
At least the enemies don't just appear out of nowhere. No, they are birthed from water coolers. Before you ring the insane asylum and try and get me locked up again, I should elaborate. Basically, the water coolers act as a form of the alarm system, and in a given scenario where there is too much destruction, the water coolers go off and security bots come in. I guess it's a unique idea, but I didn't say it was good now did I? It's not. It's just weird and increases my fear of water.
Of course, with the inclusion of these enemies, you would think you could formulate a form of strategy. You know, to get the best time and avoid the enemies in a perfect run. There is no strategy as far as I can tell. It's just blind luck. With a lack of strategy comes a lack of wanting to achieve the highest score, mainly because it's down to blind luck. There is literally no reason to continue playing past receiving the key as there is no use in doing so.
It doesn't matter how complex or simple the game is, none of that matters if the controls are as useful as a chocolate teapot. Surprisingly, the controls in this game are something that works very well. They're tight, responsive and overall I had literally no problems with them. You can hold down the left click to automatically repeat your punches, I didn't realise this and probably managed to give myself repetitive strain injury by mashing left click.
Being that this is a destruction game, you'll be expecting a variety of weapons. You are correct. There are a small variety of weapons, including a stapler and some form of paper slicer that looks a hell of a lot like a machete. But you can use these weapons to your advantage. They do have a durability and will eventually deplete and explode in your hand. They do a lot more damage than your fists, so of course, it would be very unfair if they actually lasted more than a second or two of gameplay. They are very fun to use however and add a sprinkling of variety to the game. A great thing about the weapons is that you know you can use an item if they're sparkling. Because just like in real life, any object of use will sparkle vibrantly until you pick it up where it will just instantly fizzle out of existence after you've used it twice. I thought the weapons were pretty inventive at least, for example, paper shurikens. Insanely brilliant idea, about as useful as a real life paper shuriken, unfortunately, better luck next time.
The weapons in this game are usually hidden in plain sight. As told to you through the tutorials, you'll be able to find better weapons such as fire extinguishers behind hidden doors. I wouldn't really call them hidden when they're clipping through the walls, though. It's a nice throwback to the Doom and Wolfenstein era of gaming, but we've seen it done much better before.
Once you finish a level, you'll be presented with the option to exit to the main menu, enter the next level or replay the current one. It's simple things like this that the game gets right which makes it a lot more bearable. This is all presented on the score screen, which is presented nicely along with your score and those golden turd things I was talking about three paragraphs ago.
Graphics and soundNow surprisingly the game flourishes graphically and musically. When you first boot the game up you'll be welcomed into a promising title screen, a good amount of options to play around with at your leisure and the screens presented to us actually look pretty damn good. Also, it's good to mention that this game was made using the Unreal engine. Most indie games nowadays seem to be using the Unity engine, so it was nice to see something different.
Again the positives continue as we're introduced to the game with what can only be described as a truly gorgeous cutscene. It provides us with the "story" of the game, which was probably something the devs wrote on a post-it-note and forgot about until the very end of development. Actually, as a whole, the graphics are gorgeous.
When it comes to music I am completely useless. But I know good music when I see it. I mean hear it. I know good music when I hear it. This game features a beautiful soundtrack, very fitting with the game's fast-paced action. A techno, dubstep beat goes hand in hand with rampage and destruction. It's a lot more fitting than the music I listen to, sorry Take on Me, but you just don't fit into a workspace environment. This does actually set the mood of the game quite effectively and really gets you into the mood to play.
ConclusionLuckily the game does have one or two saving graces that I have yet to mention. I'm a huge fan of Steam Trading Cards and luckily this game has those which is fantastic news for me or anyone who likes badges. I'll most likely go on to craft the badge for this game.
However, in general, it was just poor. I suppose the concept of the game is good and would be some fun if it was executed correctly or well. When I'd finished playing the game I actually had to restart my laptop just to close the game. You know, where you push the power button in for so long it feels like you're drowning someone? Yeah, I had to do that. Actually, come to think of it, drowning is probably a lot more bearable of an experience than this game.
Office Freakout manages to simulate the everyday office environment well. Where the game does well, it does very well. But that isn't enough to keep this game from sliding into the ever growing list of poor games I've played. Rage inducing gameplay that it may be, the rage you feel will be for all the wrong reasons.
|+ Unique gameplay idea||- Framerate drops frequently in game and on menus|
|+ Lovely graphics||- Enemies aren't a threat and are just annoying|
|+ Great music that fits the game well||- Awkwardly poor combat|
|+ Good destruction mechanics||- Simplistic level progression|
|- Doesn't load and crashes frequently|