Originally published on Trevor Trove on October 25, 2016
TL; DR(eview) – Job Simulator is an incredibly fun and funny deconstruction of some iconic lines of work. With satirical looks at life as an office worker, gourmet chef, convenience store clerk, and auto mechanic, I found myself constantly amused by the broad and subtle jokes incorporated into the game.
In Job Simulator, you are visiting the Job Museum in the near future where all jobs have been taken over by robots. The star attraction of the Museum is the Archives which let you experience what life was like performing the day-to-day tasks of one of four jobs: office worker, gourmet chef, convenience store clerk, and auto mechanic. Each simulation sets you up at a workstation and gives you the option to do a series of common task or explore the station and create your own fun with the tools provided.
The humor here is mined from the conceit that this isn’t what these jobs are actually like, but rather, what the robots who created the simulations think the jobs were like. A copy machine at the office is able to duplicate anything around the cubicle. Or printing “family” pictures will come off of the printer complete with frame. As you complete tasks and get promoted in the corporate ladder, you’ll even be called upon to shred documents using a wood chipper.
Each of the four experiences provide their own quirky sequence of tasks to fulfill but they all include a wide variety of additional content to explore. For example, when manning the kitchen in the chef simulation, the tasks will introduce you to the concept of “making a pizza:” blend a tomato, pour the sauce onto a slice of bread, and add the sauced bread and additional ingredients into a microwave. While performing the task, I crafted a slice of lemon pizza to complete the order but was later able to make egg pizza and pretzel pizza, each with their own different object models, just because Owlchemy Labs has given players the tools and freedom to do so.
The VR Experience
I first attempted playing Job Simulator seated but quickly ran into issues where I couldn’t get the move controllers (which are required for this title) where I needed because my seat (the chaise end of a sofa sectional) wound up getting in the way. So ultimately, I move the chaise aside and played the game standing up. Each sequence of tasks can probably be completed well within the course of an hour but that foregoes the joys of mindlessly exploring the work areas and throwing stuff at other nearby bots to elicit a response.
Once all four simulations have been completed, a Museum Research and Development robot will introduce a couple of “Job Genie” cartridges that allow you to add new elements to the simulations like low gravity mode or bounce mode. These add extra little layers of insanity to the scenarios and does a decent job of tweaking the game’s physics but ultimately adds very little. I’d be much more inclined to see what the team could come up with in terms of additional scenarios, either as DLC or a full-fledged Job Simulator 2.
The vocal performances are amusingly dry throughout, as intended given that every character in the game is effectively a robot role-playing as a human. Stereotypes are played up with aplomb like a sleazy mechanic or “wild west”-era bandit who makes multiple appearances throughout (always excited about the “cheddar” he has stolen, represented by wedges of cheese).
Graphically, Job Simulator has a very cartoonish art style, which works in its favor. A more “realistic”-looking game like Batman: Arkham VR might look better at times, but its technical issues are also much more noticeable. The comic design of Job Simulator on the other hand doesn’t have to try to be as realistic. A computer keyboard doesn’t have to be painstakingly recreated in incredible detail; it can simply be a “0” key and a “1” key for humorous effect.
The same issues that plague these interaction-based VR games are still in effect. I can stick my hand through a file cabinet in the game without any barriers if there’s nothing in the real physical world stopping my hand from going there. And object clipping in these games can be brutal. But at the same time, the game does a good job of returning objects to you if they accidentally (or intentionally) leave the immediate playing space, as the developers recognize that if I throw the car air freshener over the car before me, the PlayStation Camera wouldn’t be able to register me if I tried to walk a few steps forward through the car to pick it back up.
Job Simulator is an incredibly fun approach to a VR title. It doesn’t take itself seriously and it fully recognizes and embraces the silly things we do in VR. While I wish there was more in the way of the task-driven content (and the witty writing tied to the objectives) or additional jobs, I still think this is my current front-runner to invite my family over and introduce them to VR. Everything is intuitive, relatively accessible, and most importantly, fun.