Initiatives such as Early Access and Greenlight have led to what is fast approaching a new golden age for PC gaming. New and quirky ideas are hitting hard and fast on Valve’s digital delivery service. While not all of them live up to their promise, there’s still plenty of gold to be found with a little digging.
Some extremely unique game concepts exist on Steam, concepts that gamers like us would probably never imagine in our wildest dreams. These are normally accompanied by an equally unique and odd name, so you can imagine my surprise when Corporate Lifestyle Simulator turned out to not only be one of the most unique games I have played this year, but also one of the best.
I should start by saying that if there is one thing that Corporate Lifestyle Simulator isn’t it is a simulation of corporate lifestyle. Made by bignic and published by Dophin Barn, it is a violent pixel-art reinterpretation of what working in an office is like with middle managers who happen to be zombies (and I mean that literally).
You’ll spend your time setting middle managers on fire, beating them with a baseball bat, firing a staple gun at them, smacking them with a phone or throwing office furniture at them; but no matter what weapon you use, killing zombies in Corporate Lifestyle Simulator is one my most satisfying gaming experiences of the year. Every weapon packs a serious punch, and throwing bits of zombies in different directions and smashing everything on screen just feels so good. If you were looking for a way to vent some built-up anger Corporate Lifestyle Simulator is the game for you.
There are 15 different weapons in the game which are given to you slowly over the first half or so of the 27 missions, meaning that you’ll end up using every weapon and figuring out your favourites for yourself by end of the campaign. The stand-out weapon, however, is your fist – mostly because it allows you to throw anything you are standing next to in the direction your mouse is pointing. The result of this is that when I found a presentation room full of chairs I felt like a kid diving into a ball pit, except with much more wanton destruction and zombie blood.
The shotgun can also be an incredible amount of fun. Any zombie that you kill from close range with the shotgun will fly backwards in a spray of zombie bits that remain on the level, so when you can hit multiple zombies it’s spectacular. And you’ll often be shooting at half a dozen at once. Action is often fast paced and extremely hectic, and with zombies coming from every direction, there’s a degree of skill required to play well.
All of this takes place in an 8-bit pixel-art isometric view that could be put in the dictionary next to the word charming. It’s certainly not going to give Watch Dogs a run for its money – hell, it barely troubles Bioware’s Infinity Engine from the 90s – but they have their own appeal. Mixed with the fast-paced destructive nature of the game it creates a screen that has a lot on it but avoids being overcrowded. Pixels fly left and right as computers and desks get destroyed all over the place, creating an atmosphere of absolute carnage.
One level in particular is absolutely amazing for carnage: you’re in a parking lot with the lights out so you have to either use a flamethrower or exploding cars to create light. I ended up throwing Molotov cocktails all over the map blowing up cars and creating massive fires to kill zombies while creating light to kill more zombies.
The destruction mechanic allows the game to introduce an optional objective to each mission: destroy everything. Missions generally require you to either get to a certain point or to kill all the zombies, but the optional extras of having to destroy every object on the map and rescue all of the other employees will probably bring you back for another playthrough, which for some people will be what makes the purchase worthwhile.
The game took me about 2 hours to finish, so whilst the experience was great I wish there could have been more. The sheer joy of the on-screen carnage is likely to have you coming back for more, but this is still a relatively slender experience that would have benefited from some more varied mission goals and a slightly longer campaign.
Scattered throughout the game are boss battles against the higher ups within the business. These serve to break what might otherwise be a repetitive game for some, but unfortunately they fail to live up to the normal levels. Corporate Lifestyle Simulator is at its best when you are fighting against massive hordes, so a level with only one enemy doesn’t fit at all.
But in the same way that a short game like Brothers was able to deliver a massive emotional punch in only a few hours, Corporate Lifestyle Simulator, whilst short, is such an impactful experience that it will stay with you for a long time.
When picking up the game make absolutely sure that you spend the couple of extra dollars to get the soundtrack edition, because one of Corporate Lifestyle Simulator’s greatest assets is the brilliant soundtrack. A blend of chiptunes and dubstep it adds to the excitement and atmosphere of the game no end. You’ll find yourself completely involved in the game, sucked in by the music and held by the gameplay.
With just 2 hours of insane fun, Corporate Lifestyle Simulator isn’t a game of the year contender – but its carnage, destruction and larger-than-life personality leave a lasting impression.