This game has been on my radar for a long time, so I was very excited when I was offered a review code to play The Company Man on Xbox Series X. Like every other person on this planet, I’m a huge fan of The Office. Despite being British myself, this is one of VERY few examples where the Americans did it better. I always found the UK version to be bland and obsequious, but the US version is fantastic. I fell in love with the characters, and the ridiculous plots were so much fun to follow. The Company Man is based on the hit series, and so naturally I had high expectations.
In the game, a guy named Jim is the protagonist, and the aim is to work your way to the top. You do this by making your way through challenging platforming levels, and facing other employees in combat. I adore platformers, and although I prefer 3D ones, 2D ones still appeal for me.
Initially, I took this code with the intention of making a full review of the game. Unfortunately, the game in its current state is unplayable for Xbox. Honestly, if I wasn’t reviewing it, I’d have quit in the first 10 minutes, but I tried to power through. However, after just over half an hour I had to admit defeat, as the bugs were just ridiculous. I’m really disappointed, as there’s actually a lot to love with this game. I’m hoping that it will get a patch soon, and I’ll be able to write up a full review.
My Experience So Far
Usually for reviews, I break the game into different sections, but seeing as I ended up playing so little of it, there’s really no point as I don’t have enough insight into the different elements of the game. Instead, I’ll talk about my overall experience of playing it.
The first thing I noticed is that the platforming itself is actually really smooth. I can easily judge the height of my jump, and the distance of the platform. The controls are the perfect level of sensitivity, and it makes for some really nice movement. This is excellent, as some of the platforming is actually quite taxing. It’s not impossibly difficult, but it’s not boringly easy, either. It’s a lovely middle ground, and the developer has clearly thought this through. You need to activate certain platforms with levers, and I assume as the game progresses, there’ll be many more elements to discover.
The combat is basic, but it does the job. You can jump and dash as dodging manoeuvres, as well as swing your weapon using the X button. The controller layout also shows that Y is shoot, which suggests that you’d pick up projectile weapons later in the game. You start out with 5 health, which you can replenish by drinking coffee. This may sound like a lot of health, but believe me, it can deteriorate very quickly. The coffee spots also act as checkpoints, and you respawn there when you inevitably die.
What I Liked
Despite only playing for a short amount of time, I was able to get a sense of the game. And for the most part, I liked what I saw. It’s a pretty basic platformer, although I suspect it would become more complex as the levels evolved. It’s very standard for the genre, but I figure “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The Company Man isn’t trying to do anything revolutionary, it’s simply trying to get some fun gameplay to go with the theme. The most important thing is feeling like it’s connected with The Office, as that’s its main selling point.
This title does enough to avoid copyright issues. The levels are less based on The Office, and more just based on an office. However, there are amusing nods to the series. For example, one enemy you meet early on is dressed exactly like Dwight, and that did definitely give me a chuckle. Jim’s general disdain for the job is also very fitting for his character.
The graphics are clean and crisp, with a fun cartoony style that doesn’t devolve into childishness. It makes the levels feel vibrant and layered, despite only being 2D. The office-like sound effects in the background such as stapling and coughing help to add to the general ambience. I feel like the visuals and audio are a strong point of the game, and would help with the immersion over the course of playing.
What I Didn’t Like
This first point isn’t a bug, but it’s just a gameplay choice that I personally disagree with. It didn’t contribute to me quitting, but it’s just something worth mentioning. Essentially, when you get hit, you flash for a short moment and get invincibility, just like many other similar games. I always love the invincibility as it allows me to traverse whatever obstacle was causing me issues. However, in The Company Man, you also get thrown backwards when you get hit. By the time you’re back to where you were, you’ve lost your invincibility, essentially making it meaningless. It’s frustrating, and I feel it’s unnecessary as the game is already challenging enough.
However, the thing that made it unplayable is that it’s almost impossible to interact with items. You use L3 to interact with anything – picking up weapons, drinking coffee, pulling levers, etc. But it only works if you’re standing in exactly the right spot and facing exactly the right direction, and even then you need to repeatedly spam the button until it works. You can be stood directly on the object, so that it’s even displaying the interact button above your character’s head, and it still won’t work. This was infuriating as you need the L3 button regularly, so I was already on the verge of quitting. When I encountered levers that needed to be pulled in a quick time frame, it became completely unplayable, and I had to quit. I really hope the developer fixes this soon.
Usually this is the part in a review where I’d give my verdict on the game, but I can’t do that here. It would be unfair to give The Company Man a rating when I’ve played so little of it. Yes, there’s a bug that makes it nigh on impossible to play, but that shouldn’t define the game. It’s newly released, and it’s understandable that there are kinks right now. Hopefully in a couple of months, the developer will have had time to patch up the issues, and I can give this game a proper go. So for now, I’ll leave it here, but keep your eyes peeled as I’ll hopefully do a full review in the future!