I’m not the biggest fan of my day job. Sure, I have the occasional good day at the office, but most of the time I’m highly stressed and fighting to meet deadlines. Those chaotic days play on my mind and frustrate me even when I’m at home. Sometimes, I need an outlet to vent. Going outside for some fresh air – I’ve tried that. My wife gave me a stress ball in the shape of a farm sheep – amusing, but it didn’t work. After much soul searching, I believe I may have found my ultimate way to de-stress and relieve workplace dramas. Smash up an office… In a videogame.
Previously known as “Zombies” when it first appeared on Steam Greenlight, Corporate Lifestyle Simulator is a retro inspired, top-view shoot “em” up, set in a frenzied zombie infested office. On first impression, I felt as if this game was tailor-made for white collared workers who despised their desk jobs. Destroying everything in the office, from computers to furniture, felt fantastic, and funnily, became more satisfying than defeating the enemies themselves.
Players assume the role of an IT specialist by the simple name “Dude” who finds his once bothersome co-workers have turned into flesh-eating zombies. The entire building becomes a cubicle office maze of mayhem where you fight off zombies, save helpless humans, and find the exit to each stage. There isn’t much to talk about in regards to storyline as it’s a straight-up ‘survive the zombies’ plot; with a touch of comedy and pop culture references.
As the game takes place within an office setting, there isn’t a lot of noticeable difference between the level design and layout of each stage. In fact, the only real way to tell the difference between all 27 stages is the unique boss battles. The game begins quite easy, early on, as you can simply choose to avoid all enemies and co-workers to find the exit. The difficulty does increase progressively, however, with crowds of 30-40 zombies to try and fend off.
It won’t take long to realise that your health meter can quickly drop to zero within a few swift hits, so it’s always best to keep moving and shooting. As you progress, you will unlock new weapons, such as a pistol, shotgun, and chainsaw; just to name a few. They may be the most effective, but the real fun is when you find all of the ordinary everyday office items that can now be used as tools of destruction. There is all the office stationery you would expect, including staplers, phone cords, pencils, etc. They are all at your disposal to conquer the undead threat.
In additional to regular combat, there are plenty of boss battles between stages, which are a refreshing break from the chaos of multiple enemies. The Level design of for the boss stages is generally more open-spaced as the office furniture creates a border for a one-on-one contest. The increased space for these stages gives players plenty of room to avoid attacks and plan the next move, but in turn, it also makes the boss stages less challenging.
The controls from Corporate Lifestyle Simulator are simple and minimal. WASD for movement, and the mouse to aim and shoot. There are keys for jump and reload, but I found those buttons to be pointless as the character automatically jumps over tables and reloads after each round anyway. With the free aim of the mouse, left-click is going to take a massive beating as you’ll face overwhelming crowds of zombies and desks in your path. I appreciated that there was a fantastic array of weapons on offer, but cycling through them took a fair bit of time. At times, it cost me a fair chunk of health when looking down to my keyboard looking to find the next best weapon. This, to me, was likely a visual design flaw; the weapon icons should have been a lot bigger and clearer, possibly providing the option to click on the desired weapon could have helped greatly, and saved a lot of time.
The overall look of each stage has that corporate office theme throughout. Endless desks, filing cabinets, and wall dividers inhabit the entire game, but there are the two odd stages where you end up on the rooftop and in the car park. The pixel-art design I believe was the right choice for the art style. I don’t think you’d get that same sense of humour and personality with 3D rendered models and realistic environments. In turn, the chip-tune soundtrack is phenomenal and keeps you amped throughout the entire game. Each score is unique and very infectious; do yourself a favour and purchase the soundtrack if you enjoy retro-themed tunes. The cut scenes in-between levels have some of the most amusingly bad voice acting I’ve ever heard, but this is intentional according to the trailer.
Corporate Lifestyle Simulator is an enjoyable and ultra-violence romp that would easily please those who loathe their desk job. The “Office Space” meets “Shaun of the Dead” undertone of the game wasn’t trying to accomplish anything new, but rather, create an amusing experience of mindless shooting fun. At $4.99, it’s great value for a shoot “em” up that’s filled with plenty of laughs, which can also facilitate all of your wildest destructive urges.