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The Office Quest (PC) artwork

The Office Quest (PC) review


"Short, Surreal and Marginally Aggravating "


Office Quest is a mobile phone adventure game that’s probably more comfortable on the PC. There’s a weird turn of events for me; rather than complain about obvious touch screen mechanics being barely altered to haphazardly work on a desktop instead of a swipe screen, I can write about a port being actually beneficial instead. On its original mobile platform, Office Quest picked up a bit of a chequered reputation; being a secretly episodic game that had you pay for incomplete chapters, or charging you extra for hints should you dare get yourself stuck. No such shenanigans here – no hint system at all. You’ll just have to figure it out on your own like we all used to do back in the days of Guybrush and Rincewind. Or you could just take thirty seconds to browse Youtube for a walkthrough.

The game’s a simple point and click adventure, regularly broken up by mini games of very uneven quality, that will probably only take you a handful of hours to complete. It’s also ridiculously charming and smoothly animated, presenting a weird world where everybody wears large, oversized costumes fashioned after animals or vegetables or just about anything else they fancy. Why? Because whimsy. Pineapples lead business lectures; elephants wait at red lights alongside impatient salamanders while a nearby collection of cacti wait in line for job interviews.



But the world still turns, and the people still have to work demoralising office jobs, no matter how surreal and wonderful their costumes may be. It’s here we meet our unnamed protagonist, slaving in front of a keyboard. His finite time on this planet tick ticking away as he thanklessly types up some assignment demanded of him by so called superiors, but never truly appreciated. The humdrum drone and soul destroying grind of putting words on a screen that will never, ever be enough. Chipping away at an incessant workload, an unceasing inbox, a constant ravenous demand that will never be satisfied, regardless of effort or quality. The noise of tapping keys boring into his very skull, tickling the last remaining vestiges of his sanity, loosening their once solid grips on reality. Review after review after review; game after game after game. Sometimes he dares pause long enough to look away from the screen, but should he close his eyes, he sees naught but the mocking empty page. “Fill me with your pretentious twaddle, Gary”, it purrs. “Desecrate me with your worthless rambling. But you’ll never be finished. You’ll never be done! We’ll never allow….”

Ahem.

So, the guy has a boring office job. He’s granted a reprieve (that I’ll never bloody see….) when a flower produces a unique splash of colour against his monochrome world. Leaving his cubicle, perhaps forever, he chases the red smudge as it whisks away off-screen. This is the entirety of his quest – chase the coloured blob. Games have been built around weaker narratives.

It’s an excuse to trap him in a number of self-contained scenarios and asking you, the supposed brains of the outfit, to figure out just how to advance. Most of this is done through Inventory Based Puzzles™ because the genre demands it! Keeping its humble mobile roots in mind, this is massively simplified, meaning you no longer have to actually combine the items together to make a solution; just click where on what you feel might be a contextual hot-spot and if your runaway office worker can use an item there, he’ll just go ahead and do it. It’s a lot less fiddly than usual, and a real boon to the ‘click everything with everything and see what happens’ method we all pretend we don’t devolve to when really stuck in an adventure game, but totally do.



It means that sometimes, you’ll more or less solve a puzzle by complete accident. But that’s okay, because this will more often than not be followed almost directly by a mini game of sorts. Office Quest is filled with them, some working well within the confines of the scenario you’re trying to beat, and some regulating themselves to trial and error rage fuel. There’s even a sliding block puzzle featured early on because people seemingly still think those are a good idea, regardless of the amount of times I’ve written to parliament about getting then made illegal.

They seem to revolve a lot around symbolism and trying to complete picture-based puzzles. There’s a lot of them, and some work better than others, but it’s hard to get truly stuck because you can always just trial and error your way through. It’s a cheap means of progression, but it does ensure you never get bogged down and spent too long trying to work through a puzzle you can’t understand. Mostly, that’s going to be your fault, but Office Quest certainly has moments where their visual puzzles are too vague to be easily understood.

It also has moments that seem to exist only to artificially extend the life of the game. There’s a mini maze within a set of air ducts that stand out as the biggest culprit of this. Which is a shame because it’s a game that should be seen off in a brisk three/four hours. As such, it works as a cool distraction rather than a grueling campaign. There’s certainly a place in the market for games you could beat in a session or two.



Office Quest is a decent attempt at filling that hole. Its whimsical design coupled with a clear visual sense of humour and condensed runtime are often challenged by the occasional misfiring puzzle, but install enough interest to overcome it. You’ll just have to suck it up when faced with a match two puzzle that doesn’t offer enough attempts before resetting the grid, or that one awkward platforming sections that comes out of nowhere. Or that bloody sliding tile puzzle that remain a thing no matter what I say or do.

Now perhaps if I stare at this flower on my desk long enough, it’ll turn into a magical plot device that will stop me from having to move onto the next review in my queue. Here’s hoping.

3/5

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (June 17, 2018)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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