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Review – Office Purks

posted on February 8th, 2007 by christian and jay

christian says:
About a month ago I played The Shivah. Although it was made in something simple like Adventure Game Studio, it had fantastic production values, a lot of craft to the graphical design, and some decent gameplay hampered by a lack of originality. Bottom line was that for the five five dollars I paid for it, I got a great little game that showed a lot of personality.

To me, this is what indie gaming is all about. Yes, I love to see innovations and new ideas floating around. But if an indie developer can get personal, to use their game to show us something special to them, then they’ve used their avenue of development to the fullest, because its something you just can’t do very easily within a big time studio.

Which brings us to Office Purks, an example at the other end of the spectrum. This is an nothing more than a Pac-Man clone with style and humor that’s been done to death since the film Office Space became a cult classic. It has some decent looking characters and is stable, but in the end that isn’t enough to hide the fact that you’re playing a game that once cost a quarter to play and can be enjoyed in a variety of forms these days for no charge. There is the ability to jump, but it really does nothing to shake up the formula, nor does the AI (which is somewhat tough but not particularly intelligent – just cheap).

I wouldn’t feel this way if this were a free download by a bunch of eager young students. But to think that they’re not only charging for it, but charging more than for The Shivah (and just shy of an Episode of Sam and Max) is preposterous. There’s nothing here worth paying for. It’s not personal, it doesn’t have the polish of a good Japanese doujin, and there’s nothing innovative at all about it. When it comes to spending hard earned money, gamers expect something quality, not something they can play for free from Pop Cap. I love the indie scene, but not when it is used to make a quick buck on stale concepts.

There’s nothing quite like floating above a janitors head, waiting for imminent death.

jay says:
Office Purks is a competent game, but I doubt that’s what the developer wants to hear. Maybe I don’t know what indie designers want people to think of their games, but saying “This is competent for an indie game” seems like damning with faint praise to me. “I’m so impressed you got dressed all by yourself today. And you even made this game that doesn’t destroy my computer?”

Office Purks is a Pac Man clone, but it does try to add a little spice to the set-up. There are enemies who throw things at you, janitors who sweep away your power-ups and then another guy who collects the paper clips (think dots that Pac Man eats) you need. At least, he collects them in theory. Sometimes it seems as if this mechanic isn’t working, or at least the numbers stop moving for the rest of a game. There are some other glitches, like how your character hovers after he picks up a power-up, occasionally ends up levitating above the paper clips he needs to gather, or gets stuck in a ceiling fan.

Then there’s the stuff that Christian brings up. I don’t have the same vision of what an indie game should be; screw personal stuff, I want unique ideas. To me, an indie title is a chance to make something original without being hampered by enormous development times and corporate drones threatening to cut off funding. So I apologize to Mythopoea Games if I am unfairly categorizing them, but it’s apparent to me that they make games because they want money, not because they want to make games. Think of all the cool ideas for games you have in your head, reader. Now pretend you had the know-how and ability to make at least a reasonable facsimile of that design.

Either Mythopoea is sorely lacking in imagination and the only thing they could come up with was Pac Man in an office, or they are trying to make a quick buck off of us. To make things more insulting, they charge for an unfinished game. Who do they think they are, Firaxis?

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