Corporate Lifestyle Simulator – What We Think:
You know that joke about how the drudgery of working an office job at a big company turns you into a mindless zombie? This isometric action game from Dolphin Barn, actually an expansion of an earlier casual game simply entitled “Zombies,” stretches that joke to its logical extreme by setting the zombie apocalypse inside an office building.
I believe you have my stapler
The managers of SuperCorp have literally turned into the living dead, so you’re going to have to fight your way through a 27-level office complex, wantonly destroying everything in your path with telephone receivers, staplers and anything else you can get your hands on (admittedly, the game does provide you with “real” weapons like baseball bats, presumably left over from an office softball league, and guns “borrowed” from security guards and the like).
The appeal here is the humor, of course, and luckily enough, most of said humor is legitimately funny. You can rescue coworkers to fight alongside you (or at least distract the zombie managers for long enough that you can escape), and the system that randomly generates their job titles mixes up prosaic positions like “server technician” with hilarity both satirical (“desk lamp operator”) and absurd (“sandwich accountant”).
Your protagonist’s many quips, bon mots and poorly remembered pop culture quotations (“This one time at band camp…I cried because I was homesick”) are also worth a chuckle. In fact, the sound design as a whole, with its catchy chiptune-meets-dubstep soundtrack, satisfying furniture-smashing effects and the whole concept of zombie managers groaning out buzzwords like “synergy,” is perhaps this game’s most endearing quality. Unfortunately, there are often so many sounds playing at once that it can be tough to discern the funny bits, but that can be easily fixed by adjusting the audio settings.
Think outside the box (by setting the box on fire)
Gameplay itself is pretty standard; your protagonist, rendered in deliberately blocky pixels, runs rampant through an isometric office environment smashing herds of similarly blocky tie-clad zombies. The controls are nicely responsive, and nearly every object on screen can be smashed, shot, blown up, knocked down, making this extra fun if you’ve ever suffered pangs of empathy watching the printer get destroyed during that scene in “Office Space.” Acquiring new weapons and experiencing the occasional new game mechanic, like flashlights in a darkened parking garage, keep things from getting too stale too quickly.
No one is going to mistake Corporate Lifestyle Simulator for a work of genius, but it’s not meant to be. It’s casual, it’s fun, and it’s funny. There’s not much depth here, nor is there a ton of replay value, but it’s great as a casual diversion. It’s the kind of thing you’d play on your coffee break, except that management made everybody uninstall Steam before they turned into zombies.