THE MOST FUN I HAVE HAD AT WORK IN QUITE SOME TIME
Work. Some of us love it, many of us hate it. One way or another, we have all been late at some point or another for various reasons, whether fact or fiction. In Level22, our hero Gary takes being late to a whole different level when he over sleeps after partying way too hard on his birthday and consequently runs late for work. With Gary already being late one too many times, being late again could cost him his job. Clearly the only logical thing to do is…sneak…into...work. With best friend and ex-employee at the office Marty providing intel via cell phone, this plan was bound to work.
The concept is simple enough, don’t get seen by your fellow employees/security guards and everything will be a-okay. It’s got all the makings of a great casual game like cute graphics, humor, and simplicity, delivering on the concept as a whole. Sneaking around various floors of the office building, the goal is to get through each level undetected using your wits and surroundings. If you are in the sight of a fellow employee or security guard for too long, you will get caught and fail the level. This is where the surroundings come into play. Players can duck into a closet, climb into vents, and gather different items to help distract others or hide Gary’s big head (Sorry Gary.) The game is just plain fun, and has both old school appeal and a mobile game type casualness to it that just fits.
The writing is great, and phone-a-friend Martys dialogue with Gary is notably hilarious. They have a believable dynamic that mimics other classic slacker duos like Harold and Kumar or Bill and Ted. There isn’t much other context to the story, but what these two deliver in terms of narrative was plenty for me. Throughout the games 20 levels you can play, 4 of which are boss fights, Gary can find some pretty fun collectibles. One form of collectibles is Martys prized toy collection. With one parody inspired toy per base level (like “The Dark Bat” or “Clawverine”), 16 total toys are scattered throughout the building. Most are in plain sight, with some needing a bit of thinking to get to, but the more creative of the collectibles is the safes that need to be cracked. Some combinations are obvious, like two sets of numbers on cork boards. Others, however, ask you to think outside the box, like in one level that uses periodic table listings (use their numbers from the table to make your combo) in place of standard codes. My personal favorite tasks you with taking abbreviated games (MGS2 or SMB3) and subsequently taking the numbers from them and placing them in order of release date.
I truly think the only downfall of an otherwise great experience is the lack of substance post game. When all 20 levels are done and the collectibles are acquired, there is nothing else to do other than replay the levels. Unfortunately with only linear ways to complete the levels, there is not much satisfaction to be gained through re-completing the levels. A simple addition of a time trial mode would have added to the replayability of the title. It could have been fun to try and complete the levels within certain time frames with “x amount” of times caught also being a factor. Level22 provides a great casual experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome and is fun throughout. Its equal parts Metal Gear Solid and Hotline Miami (sans the violence) and I really couldn’t ask for much more out of it. It’s a genuinely fun time, has great humor throughout, and is presented in such a way that you can assure yourself it was made by passionate gamers. It is only ever mildly frustrating but remains a splendidly balanced game that incorporates inspiration from various titles before it. Level 22 is, simply put, a genuinely great casual experience.
FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10
+Passionately Created Casual Experience
-Lacks Post Game Substance
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