The Company Man is a grim capitalist satire wrapped in a 2D action-platformer. With clear inspirations from the likes of the Mega Man franchise and produced by writers for The Onion and apparently, that is exactly what I want from a game. Play as an entry-level employee fighting your way up the corporate ladder… literally. As Jim, mild-mannered and familiarly-named pencil pusher, you must traverse sprawling “departments”, complete with challenging platforming, innumerable background jokes and a vast assortment of enemies to dispatch.
The Company Man is something truly shocking in the best possible way. The combat is fast paced and intuitive; the combination of pattern recognition, secondary abilities and difficulty almost makes it feel like a more forgiving Blasphemous. The difficulty curve is nice and feels very much like old-school Mega Man in how it’s constructed; you fight through a self-contained area that ends with a boss fight and then move on to the next self-contained area with another boss fight.
The level design is vibrant and varied, each one with different enemies, puzzle mechanics and colour schemes. This game could’ve easily fallen into a grayscale aesthetic but instead, it subverts that trope with vibrant colours alongside the air of deathly monotony. The amount of variety in this game that is so clearly themed around the boring repetition of a 9-5 work cycle is a really interesting and effective choice that keeps it from ever feeling repetitive or boring. The boss fights, level design, combat, puzzles and pretty much everything else are constantly keeping the player on their toes in intelligent and dynamic ways.
The writing is a biting satire of capitalism and corporate culture that is so funny, it hurts. It’s an unapologetic view of the workplace that is both profound and cartoonish. The first area you encounter looks like something out of an episode of Adventure Time, with a blatant Inferno-parody storyline: hellish and kind of off putting but visually amazing. The visual storytelling is very efficient and works in conjunction with the dialogue/quips delivered directly to the camera in order to create something that makes the player laugh and then reflect about their professional life. The dialogue feels like an episode of The Office insomuch as it’s very ordinary but doles out quick quips with a wink that keeps the player engaged, even though there’s not much actual plot. It’s smart and self-aware in a way that actually benefits from its simplicity.
- Intuitive gameplay
- Mega Man inspired level design
- Brilliant satire on corporate workplace culture
The most glaring flaw in The Company Man is its audio, which is so incredibly minor that it wasn’t a noticeable issue most of the time. To emphasize just how petty an issue this is, it’s not even all of the audio that’s bad. The music is fine and fits thematically because it just blends into the background and is a non-entity in the experience. The thing that can be seen as annoying is the obnoxious exclamations that the characters make every time they jump or use weapons. It’s not an uncommon thing for the main character to have a “jumping noise” but that’s more common (and welcome) in 3D platformers that usually have less jumping and a more engaging score that would help conceal the issue. This is a game best played on mute with your favorite music or podcast on in the background because otherwise, it’s nothing but ambient music with cheesy anime-ish soundbites that correspond to nearly every button push.
- Annoying audio
Final Score: 10/10
The Company Man is the best game I’ve reviewed in quite a long time. It’s simple, smart and, most of all, extraordinarily fun. Even if you don’t appreciate/care about the writing, this game is still incredibly enjoyable on gameplay alone, which is always the most important thing. It knows who its audience is, does the utmost to appeal to them and then takes the extra time to appeal to everyone with the simplicity and polish that makes for a sound action-platformer. I cannot recommend this game highly enough; I’d go so far as to say that The Company Man is just as good as Dead Cells, which is some of the highest praise I can personally offer.
Thank you for checking out our The Company Man Switch review, thank you to Leoful (via Evolve PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
- Andrew Caluzzi (Inca Studios / Camped Out)
- Bel Cubitt