In June 2021, a game named Peepaw’s Farm was rolled on to the Xbox Store by a developer called Ikon Studios. We reviewed it with a tut and eyeroll, as it was no more than twenty minutes of play, all in, even accounting for multiple playthroughs. Our keyword was probably ‘shamelessness’. It was a herdy-gerdy that you put £4.19 into, turned the crank, and out pumped 1000G.
But we’re starting to wonder whether we missed the point. Peepaw’s Farm wasn’t expensive to make, and now we’re sitting here, two months on, with another game conforming to the exact same template. Enough people are winding that herdy-gerdy crank to warrant a second one. We’re even getting notes from the publisher saying that they’ve made changes based on feedback from their community. That’s more than one person!
But let’s drop the cynicism, as Peepaw’s Farm wasn’t actually unenjoyable to play. While it might have been a shameless twenty-minutes long, it was a fun little scenario set in a farm where you ‘did some things’, like it was a demo for Untitled Goose Game, or a reined in Goat Simulator scenario. We enjoyed the bare bones of what was there, in the same way that we enjoy a Fast Show or Brooklyn Nine-Nine skit. It made us chuckle, some things happened that we didn’t expect, and then it was over.
Perhaps we’re seeing the birth of a new genre. In a world where hidden object games and visual novels have found a large audience, perhaps these short adventure games from Ikon Studios can find one too.
Zoffice is definitely a funnier, better skit. Peepaw’s Farm was a simple task – to gather some vegetables for the market – where you could do some side-questy chores and wacky interactions. Zoffice has a far more interesting setup. You work in an office, and much like the TV show The Office, you’re a branch of a bigger corporation. Chad is arriving from head office, and you’ve got a presentation to give, which means giving your team a swift kick up the arse. They’re mostly lying about on sofas and doing anything other than work.
But – wait for it, wait for it! – it’s in the middle of a zombie apocalypse! The office is a ramshackle collection of planks and pallets, your security guard is dead, and Nick from Facilities is building a friend out of mannequins. It sounds an odd blend, but Ikon knows the connection between zombies and offices, and it’s apathy. As the manager of this ragtag group, you’re encouraging your workers to complete their tasks like they’re a herd of zombies. Many of us have been in the situation of ‘carrying’ a group of individuals who aren’t pulling their weight (damn you, Computer Science coursework group), so the zombie/office mix works well.
The Ikon template is to give a central objective (in this case the company presentation) and then reward you with 80Gs and 100Gs for doing some simple, off-piste stuff. You’re relocating a toy flamingo and checking out the new portaloo, and getting a hefty ‘bloop’ for doing so. That will lead to an ending after ten minutes or so, which takes you to Step 2 of playing this kind of game. Step 2 is completing all of the objectives in five minutes. So, you’re optimising the order of things, finding the fastest route between characters, in the attempt to crunch it all down. Then you’ve won your 1000G and you’ll never play Zoffice again.
Fair play to Zoffice, it’s streamlined the speed-running stuff. You can skip through dialogue by hammering the A button, which wasn’t possible in Peepaw’s Farm, and there’s a countdown timer on the pause screen. This lets you check progress on the fly, which is more helpful than you’d imagine, considering the small margins for error. They’re welcome, and do more to make Step 2 a viable way to play.
Zoffice also looks a lot better than Peepaw. It’s still made out of the same, simple polygonal building blocks, but it’s narrowed the gap between it and Untitled Goose Game in the looks department. A lot of that’s to do with the additional detail in the world, while the genre gives it a big helping hand too. Simply put, zombies are more interesting, and there’s more surprising stuff to find here than in a farmyard. And then there’s the music which is surprisingly great: a percussive single track that brings an edge of rawk to it all.
A littler perspective is needed, though, particularly if you’ve never played Peepaw’s Farm. This is £4.19 for fifteen, maybe twenty, minutes of play. We’d hazard to say that you have to care about Gamerscore, too, as the achievements are the game’s structure. And while it’s funny, it’s still not on the same level as its peers. We’ve mentioned Untitled Goose Game and Goat Simulator, but there’s a bit of point-and-click in its DNA, and it can’t match the humour of a Sam & Max or even B-listers like 3 Out of 10, either.
Zoffice is one of those games that needs a warning on the packet. “Extremely short, mostly fun game inside.” Know that you’re getting an espresso of a game, and it might hit the spot. It’s a well-observed smooshing of office culture and zombie movies, a few minutes of exploration and then 1000G shoved into your mitts. But expect value for money or high quality, and you’ll be zunderwhelmed.
You can buy Zoffice for £4.19 from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S
- Shaun of the Dead approach to humour
- Some nice presentation, particularly in the music
- 1000G on tap
- Value for money is borderline awful
- Just a single punchline
- You probably took longer reading the review
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to – Ikon Games
- Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
- Version reviewed – Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date – 27th August 2021
- Launch price from – £4.19
Source link : thexboxhub