Slacking 9 to 5!
Poor Gary. Not only has he got the hangover from hell; but he’s late to work, and not for the first time.
After celebrating his birthday with a large quantity of alcohol, Gary faces a problem: how to make it to his office without any of his co-workers or, more importantly, his boss seeing him. You see, this isn’t the first time Gary has been late on the clock. One more time and he will find himself with a lots more free time.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC, Wii U, Vita, PS3
This is the the premise of Level 22: Gary’s Misadventure. With the help of his best friend, Gary must make his way from the basement, all the way up to Level 22, and the safety of his desk.
There are plenty of obstacles standing between Gary and his goal. Mainly his co-workers. Luckily, they all stick to an incredibly tight schedule when it comes to moving around the corridors and taking naps at their desks. It almost is as if they could be studied and exploited! Each floor has its own layout, along with lots of hidden goodies, but there is really only one way to make it to the exit. It’s handy that Gary has a lot of tools at his disposal. Things like newspapers, coffee, eraser catapults and even staplers all play a role in this misadventure. Using everyday objects can help Gary sneak past his colleagues and there’s even a cardboard box to hide under (one of many game in-jokes on show). It really is quite ingenious how these items can be put to use, and takes a little thought and a lot of planning to pull off. There is a large element of trial and error here, but the game is good enough to checkpoint every few minutes, meaning that I never felt too bad when getting caught close to the exit.
It is the boss fights however, that made me see red. The boss fights amplify the sneaking elements and also incorporates item mechanics, which aren’t always made clear. For example, the first boss fight required me to distract a foreman in a forklift by putting a stapler on a conveyor belt, which then passed through a metal detector. This then set off an alarm that attracted the foreman. I then had to place a chemical on another conveyor belt, which would cause the forklift damage. This has to be done with precision timing, and all while trying to avoid other co-workers. It got a little frustrating.
On the plus side though, the conversations between Gary and his friend, Marty (who happens to be an ex-employee), are genuinely funny. Marty’s roll is to act an exposition; as well as highlighting the ways Gary can use all of the different items he finds. There is lots of fourth wall breaking and nods to other classic games, as well as pop culture collectibles, all of which added to my enjoyment of the game. Then there is the pleasing 16-bit inspired design, which although looking better than any original 16-bit game ever did, still managed to evoke that golden era of gaming. It’s a shame that the music didn’t do the same, as I found the chip-tune style annoying and repetitive.
All that being said, Level 22: Gary’s Misadventure is a pleasant and refreshing stealth focused game. Not once did it take itself too seriously, or try too hard. Its light-hearted approach to the genre felt like light relief when compared to games like Volume or Metal Gear Solid. Go Gary, go!
Review copy of game provided by publisher.