It’s been building for years.
The sick, helpless rage you feel every time you go into your pointless job. Your coworkers are idiots, your boss is a jerk, and nothing you do matters. Sure, you could try to cope with healthy hobbies, social support, and meditation, but where is the fun in that? Destruction is so much more entertaining. Sadly, you can’t indulge in workplace carnage without facing prison, but that, my friend, is why we have video games. Office Freakout is a first-person action game that allows you to indulge the urge to wage workstation warfare without the nasty consequences.
The Main Menu is cleverly styled to look like the inside of a cubicle, which almost distracts from the painfully annoying “music” on this screen. It is both monotone and repetitive. If the goal is to prime player irritation for ultimate release in the game, that achievement is unlocked. Once you hit “Start,” though, the music switches to a weirdly chipper tune that wouldn’t seem out of place as a sitcom theme song. The effect is a bit jarring in its inconsistency.
Before the game and each level start, the player is given backstory, instructions, and objectives in the style of old-school silent film cards with campy broadcaster-from-the-40s narration. The art and voice work are well-done and enjoyable, but like the happy music on the level-select screen, it’s out of place. This is a game about a man losing his grip on his temper at the office. Why not use an office training video theme for the transition cutscenes? Along these lines, the meter which displays your score achievements for a completed level is a row of smiling poo piles. Why poo? An icon of almost any office product would be a better choice.
The initial feel of Office Freakout is that it’s a collection of great ideas mashed together without thought as to whether they fit.
The game is a timed, frantic rush to obliterate as much as possible and find a hidden key before time runs out. You’re not restricted to just your fists. Almost any object can be picked up, smashed into other objects or thrown across the room. Everything can be demolished, from copiers to cubicle walls. As you break items your rage meter builds, until you reach berserk mode. In a full rage you’re faster, stronger, and you can take down tough enemies and office supplies alike with your mighty blows.
If you were to play rock paper scissors in this game, paper would win. One of the most devastating weapons in the game is notebook paper You can rip it off a pad and throw it, or find wadded paper balls to lob like grenades into adjacent cubes. They explode enthusiastically, almost instantly launching you into rage mode. It isn’t clear why paper can detonate. Perhaps it’s napalm brand notebook paper? The absurdity of it is what makes it fun. What’s not to love about explosions?
The developers didn’t miss a single detail of office life in this game. You’ll find small aquariums, child-drawn art pinned to the walls, knickknacks, photos, and crappy office chairs everywhere you look. Anyone who has watched their life slowly drain away in a windowless room surrounded by 30 other people will get at least some crude satisfaction from smashing it all to bits.
You unlock new features and weapons as you play. One such feature is the ability to customize objects with colors. On the surface, this may seem superfluous. In action, it makes sense. Many achievements are attained by destroying certain objects. Giving the object a color to make it stand out helps locate them during the heat of play. Not all of the cosmetic changes are tied to objects which give achievements, however, but redecorating an office to make it look weird can be amusing as well.
I did not encounter any bugs while playing. That said, the long load times for launching the game and loading a level are problematic. There are a lot of moving pieces in this game so it is understandable that loading isn’t instantaneous, but I have a heavily modded Skyrim build that loads faster. If I’ve just played a level, it should not take as much time to replay the same level as it does to load a new level. It is as if nothing is cached, and the entire game must reload every time. Even exiting to the main screen takes a long time.
I would like to see a playable female character in this game. Women get frustrated and want to smash office equipment too. Bonus points if she has flingable exploding tampons in her arsenal.
It should be possible to replay the game tutorial, and that is not currently an option. Office Freakout has a lot of menus and things to click with very little context clues to help a player understand their purpose. A new player or returning player may struggle with knowing what to do, so making this option available is important.
Office Freakout is an excellent way to blow off steam at the end of the workday. It’s inconsistent themes and slow loading keep it from greatness, but all of those minor frustrations float away in the thrill of the smash.