by August 25, 2022 @ 3:00 pm
Reviewed on Xbox Series S
There’s nothing inherently bad about 2D platformer The Company Man. The game puts you through a handful of levels and has a running commentary about toxic corporate life. In that regard, it works quite well. It’s unfortunate, though, that the gameplay is mostly middling.
Climb the Corporate Ladder
If you’ve ever worked in a corporate 9-to-5 setting, you probably know the deal here. “Climb the corporate ladder.” “Work hard, see results.” “We’re outsourcing your job, so now you need to do something else here that you never actually signed up for.” Okay, so that last one is kind of exclusive to the last 9-to-5 office job I held, but maybe let’s not get too personal.
The Company Man does a good job of utilizing a lot of the common trappings seen in corporate workplace environments. It’s a little depressing at times just how spot on some of the themes and dialogue in the game actually are, and you’re essentially playing as a man who’s hoping to climb that proverbial corporate ladder and eventually run the company he started out as a simple drone at.
Climb the Corporate Platform
There are seven stages in The Company Man, and you’ll run, jump, and pummel your way to the top. While the platforming gameplay works well enough, it’s never really all that exciting, which is kind of a shame. Yes, there are some fun moments, but these are few and far between, and the whole time I was playing, it felt like… well, honestly, it felt like I was just clocking in, doing a job, and waiting to finish. That might be a little on the nose given the game’s overarching theme, but I doubt that part of it was intentional.
There are enemies — or employees — scattered all over the levels. Some of these are people at their desks who throw projectiles at you. Others are pushing around carts with paperwork and trying to run you down with them. The whole office environment aesthetic works really well, even if the game isn’t necessarily fun. You can dispose of enemies by smacking them upside the head with your keyboard or shooting actual termination emails (in blaster form) at them. It’s all a bit surreal, but it definitely succeeds in keeping with the mood of the game.
It’s these little touches that really stood out to me. The Company Man wasn’t exactly entertaining to play, no, but there were things about it that I enjoyed. Healing with a cup of coffee. Hearing the office-y sounds in the background. The protagonist’s running internal monologue (presented in text form at the bottom of the screen) where he talks about wanting to go home and just being over this whole thing. It all made sense, and it reminded me of how it is to actually work at one of these places.
Aiming for Success
I’m bummed that I didn’t enjoy The Company Man more. The game touches on workplace culture in some very interesting ways, and I can’t fault it for making an earnest attempt. Gameplay-wise, though, it’s just not very fun to actually play. Sure, the writing works, but the platforming and action mechanics are just very average. And though it’s decent in terms of its visual direction, it often has too cold and sterile of an appearance — which I understand is also a part of its commentary, but it makes for a drab-looking experience.
You may get a kick out of The Company Man at first, but the appeal doesn’t last very long. At around five hours, it’s a decent-sized game, but if you don’t love it in those initial moments, you’re not going to care much about it at all in the later parts. This is about as “okay” as a game can get. It’s not bad. It’s not good. It’s just fine.
Score: 5 out of 10
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