The Company Man
Genre(s): Action, Platformer, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 21/01/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
The Company Man is an action-platformer that takes boss fights to a more literal standpoint. Instead of fighting terrifying monsters or evil enemies, I fought my way through the corporate ladder. Was this game a refreshing break from the typical escapades of an adventurer? Or was it just another day in the nine to five? Find out in this Rapid Review.
The Company Man follows a simple storyline. I played as Jim, a new hire for a massive company. In the beginning, he sees the flaws of his bosses and resonates with other workers. However, as he spends more time working, he loses his friends and fails to uphold his initial moral standing. I enjoyed the commentary on the societal structure of the workplace and valued seeing how the rat race impacted Jim. It was cute, but it was not the most important aspect of the game. It supplements the gameplay well.
This game truly stands out by how well the developers implemented innovative stage design ideas into their corporation. For example, the icy accounting floor represents too many frozen assets, and the mystical marketing floor shows how the marketing specialists capitalize on their imagination. The level designs are distinct and feature unique enemies that still fit their roles in the company. The subliminal storytelling and atmospheric design made this game stand out.
Prepare Your Keyboard
However, the atmosphere alone does not make a perfect game. The Company Man creates a great environment so that Jim can take down his enemies, effectively firing them. He can walk side to side, jump, dash, and attack enemies with his sword, or assault them with strongly worded emails (a ranged attack). The basic movement and character abilities are adequate and allowed me to traverse the level seamlessly.
After each level, I unlocked a new way to send my email. I could use massive beams of emails, shoot mail like a shotgun blast, or leverage an email that shoots like a pistol. These options made the game more interesting. However, I did not use them as much as I thought I would. I typically just used my melee attack, as it was more than ample enough to complete the job nearly every time. Though the variety in the ranged weapons helped make the game more unique, it was never necessary nor particularly helpful except in boss fights.
Additionally, including so many options for the ranged attack made the traditional melee attack seem boring. Unlike Narita Boy where my character increased their potential in many ways throughout the game, the melee attack remained constant throughout The Company Man. I could not experiment with different combinations of move sets, since only the ranged attack could be changed. Thus, the melee attack began to feel tedious. These attacks did not have combination moves or any learning curve either. The combat was not as rewarding to perform as it is in many other titles.
Fight Your Friends
Though the combat itself was not my favourite aspect of the game, the enemies themselves are a lot of fun. Since the theme was distinct and prominent, I saw a lot of unique enemies. Enemies would often poke fun at typical workplace stereotypes. For example, some of Jim’s coworkers had their life sucked out of them and became vampires. Nearly all the enemies are similarly themed. The enemies were cute, and it was very interesting to see how the developer implemented these workplace ideologies into an action platformer.
The bosses were also a lot of fun to face off against. These battles were wonderfully animated, and it was always clear exactly how to defeat them. I faced a variety of different characters. Some were artistic and creative while others were stern and mechanical. Regardless of their nature, the boss fights resembled how each character acted. Each boss had a distinct feel, but they all fit the game wonderfully.
In these fights, I would take damage. When I took damage, the game seemed to stutter. Whether intentional or not, it made controlling my character challenging to the point where it seemed unintentional. This was not a huge deal-breaker, but it made the combat feel less responsive than I would have liked.
Using the Blueprints
Though the enemies were a lot of fun to take out, at times, the stages were boring. They were not that long, but there were easy sections of pure platforming and some areas without any enemies at all. The dash made navigating these sections a lot less boring, but they still felt more tedious than they needed to. Even when looking at sections with obstacles, the level design would often repeat the same concept multiple times, gradually making it more difficult throughout a level. This works well, but many of the gradual changes seem very similar, and it begins to feel repetitive. I would have liked to see more drastic adjustments throughout the levels.
I would have liked to see more challenging collectables or other reasons to explore the world. There were some big coins scattered throughout the levels, but there were no indications as to how many there were in each level, so it made it difficult to search for them. It would have also rewarded me for performing difficult tasks.
Despite the issues I had with difficulty scaling, there are multiple difficulty options available. Before completing the game, I had the option to play through the game on the Normal difficulty or the Hard difficulty. I played through the game on normal and was comfortable the whole way through. It had some challenging moments, particularly the boss fights, but there were constant checkpoints that restored my health, and the enemies were never exceedingly difficult. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when I unlocked a nightmare mode after completing the game. Plus, since the game was only a couple of hours, it is easy to justify replaying the title. These various difficulty options made the game more fun on subsequent playthroughs and added longevity to a short game.
The Company Man also features a lovely aesthetic. The characters are vibrant and all of them stand out from the background. Attacks are telegraphed clearly, the backgrounds are detailed, and projectile attacks stand out from the background. The music is also good. It did not stand out as something I would listen to in my free time, but it supplemented the visuals nicely. The game boasts a warm and welcoming aesthetic, despite the strict and formal nature of the workplace.
Overall, I had a good time playing The Company Man. It was short, and it did not feature the most engaging combat. However, it was polished and there were multiple difficulty options to tailor the game to my preferences. The enemies were fun to fight, the boss designs were lovely, and the game is incredibly stylish.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase The Company Man on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.