Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives
For so long a signal of a dry-as-a-bone genre, with enormously detailed adherence to a complex realworld pastime, these days the word ‘simulator’ has been well and truly appropriated by many a wag. Now the term is as likely to mean a comedy goat-physics game as it is an impenetrable military flight sim. Job Simulator’s boxy, low-poly aesthetic suggests it falls in the former camp, but in fact it sits somewhere between the two. It is a game of comedy, certainly, but it is grounded in reality: you are not wrestling with a comical physics model, but using Vive’s flawless head and hand tracking to carry out a series of menial tasks.
The action, if you can call it that, is set in a museum which offers the robots of the future a chance to experience unskilled jobs from the era when humans ran the world. As an office grunt, you work your way rapidly up the corporate ladder by knocking out motivational presentations and cooking (both literally and figuratively) the books. As a gourmet chef, you burn steaks to a crisp, make sandwiches with whole tomatoes in them, and put out fires when it all goes wrong. A stint behind the till of a convenience store has you grilling hotdogs, knocking up slushies and checking fake IDs; as a car mechanic you’ll either fix what the customer wants fixing or sabotage a vehicle on the orders of your sleazy boss.
The game’s great achievement is the way it brings so many things within reach, even if your playing area barely scrapes past Vive’s minimum size requirements. In the kitchen a dial switches between blender, toaster, sandwich board, microwave and sink; a switch toggles between the grill and a hob with a stock pot, while a lever lets you alternate between fridge and store cupboard. In the garage, a single vending machine has everything you need, while vehicles can be rotated to bring the part you require within easy reach. It’s smart, and means this is one of the most comfortable games you can play on Vive. You’re constantly mobile, turning round, bending down, using both hands – but you don’t have to move around too much, and quickly forget the long, thick cable that tethers headset and PC and is Vive’s most frequent immersion-breaker.
While Job Simulator cannot ape the likes of Goat Simulator by getting yuks out of its controls, there are still laughs to be had from one-to-one tracking. We got too much cathartic enjoyment out of flinging paper planes, doughnuts and coffee mugs at colleagues in adjacent cubicles. But it’s in virtual reality, rather than virtual comedy, that Job Simulator excels. Whether you’re flipping a fried egg or turning a dial, this is tactile and satisfying, if slight, entertainment.
A fair chunk of development must have been taken up with robot-joke brainstorming sessions. If this magazine doesn’t tickle your fancy, perhaps a robot jazz mag, with four whole pages of wireframes, will hit the spot