It gives me no joy to give this game a bad review. It can be fun to absolutely tear a game to shreds, especially if it’s the latest AAA money-grabbing machine, but it’s clear that somebody at Hollow Robot LLC really cared about Office Freakout. Unfortunately, my job as a reviewer isn’t to give points for effort – it’s to tell you whether or not a game is worth buying, and the tedious, uninspired Office Freakout absolutely doesn’t deserve your time or your money.
The premise of Office Freakout is that of a million “Destroy the Office” flash games: you’re Philbert, an employee of some generic cubicle farm technology company, and after a particularly bad day at work you finally snap and get to enact your wildest fantasies as you lay waste to everything in sight. And I hope you really like clicking the left mouse button, because that’s essentially all gameplay is: punching identical sets of cubicles, filing cabinets, water coolers, and donut boxes over and over again through the course of the 28-level “campaign”. The goal of each level is to find a key that allows you to proceed to the next, and here the game offers its only challenge, as sometimes I couldn’t locate the tiny, hard-to-see particle effects that show where the key is before time ran out.
To be fair, there are a few ways to spice up the destruction. Some objects can be picked up and thrown, which means instead of mashing the left mouse button you can mash the right mouse button for a change, and there’s also a variety of weapons on offer including nailguns, explosives, a “Grabbity Gun” (sigh), and the classic Office Space red stapler, which I have to admit I thought was a nice touch. Still, there’s no real reason to use any of these. When the game starts by giving you the power to destroy 95% of the environment with your bare fists, it’s not like using any of the thrown items or weapons is much more effective, and I found the fastest way to beat the game was simply to treat the left mouse button like a printer that won’t stop saying “PC LOAD LETTER”.
The game has a few other mechanics, like the ability to summon weapons from thin air by filling your “RAGE” meter (which is done by punching things) and having to deal with robotic security guards in later levels (which is done by punching them), but none of it really does much to break up the tedium. If you’ve played one level of Office Freakout, you’ve seen everything the game has to offer.
Also, let’s talk technical issues. Most egregious of all Office Freakout‘s sins are its egregiously long loading times. In order to play the game, you have to click “Play game” on the main menu, sit through 5-10 minutes of loading, choose a level on a second menu screen, and then sit through another 5-10 minute loading screen before you can play the actual game. At one point, the game actually crashed behind a loading screen and I didn’t realize what had happened for about 15 minutes, since it didn’t seem like it was taking that much longer than the usual loading times.
And yet, I find myself reluctant to say I truly “hated” Office Freakout. The surprising thing is, it’s actually a really well-made game. It looks nice and runs smoothly (for the most part), and I actually found myself laughing at a lot of the jokes. The voice acting really sells it – I’m not sure who plays Philbert, but he manages to breathe a lot of charming personality into one of the most trite and overdone caricatures in modern media. There’s lots of nice little touches, too, like the aforementioned stapler or the way the music transitions seamlessly into a more upbeat, dubstep version of the same song when you enter Rage Mode.
Like I said above, it’s clear that Hollow LLC put a lot of effort and passion into this game, something that’s rare amongst Steam Greenlight games as the storefront gets saturated with low-effort asset-flip garbage like CHARIOT WARS. The presentation is all very good. Unfortunately, it’s just polish on a fundamentally un-fun core gameplay turd.
Despite the game’s proud attempt to be a giant middle finger to the pedestrian, that’s exactly what it is – pedestrian. Playing through all 28 levels of it for my job at HeyPoorPlayer felt no different than slaving away at the menial data entry tasks that supposedly sent Philbert off the deep end. Office Freakout is the white bread of videogames, filling but not satisfying, with nothing to recommend it, leaving nothing to remember it by.
If you want a game about breaking things, there’s hundreds of other, better, and in many cases cheaper options. If you want wacky office comedy, there’s a vast number of films and TV shows that will scratch that particular itch. And if you desperately want to live out your hate fantasies of destroying your office and getting back at your dick boss, therapy’s a lot more effective and probably a lot more fun.
Final Verdict: 2.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Hollow Robot LLC; Developer: Hollow Robot LLC; Players: 1 ; Released: September 27, 2016 ; MSRP: $11.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Office Freakout given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.