Developer: Crows Crows Crows, Squanch Games
Publisher: Crows Crows Crows
Release Date: 19/12/2017
Platform(s): PlayStation VR
I hadn’t even heard of Crows Crows Crows and Squanch Games’ original release before Accounting+ was revealed at The Game Awards at the end of last year, but as soon as I saw that trailer I knew I had to play it. I mean, it blends utterly insane gameplay with a world that draws similarities to the likes of Rick and Morty and The Mighty Boosh – what isn’t there to like?!
Now I’ve actually played it (a lot), it’s become one of my favourite PlayStation VR titles; not because it’s a blockbuster as far as gameplay is concerned or because it’s some narrative masterpiece, but because it kept a huge grin on my face the whole time I was playing it. It’s the sort of thing that utilises virtual reality perfectly, and, in honesty, could probably ONLY work in virtual reality…
You’ll have to bear with me here, because the story of Accounting+ is a little bit bizarre. You take on the role of an accountant, but in this day and age accountancy is done through the form of virtual reality. When you actually get around to putting on your virtual reality headset though, some wires seem to have been crossed somewhere and you instead find yourself going on some bat shit crazy trips through some utterly zany worlds. It’s up to you to find your way back to reality, but not without causing chaos (and ruining some lives) along the way.
The story and the humour were actually the highlight of the experience for me. The characters you meet are so strange and anarchic, but so cleverly written that you can’t help but to feel a sense of affection towards them. You’ve got the likes of the Tree Guy and his foul-mouthed over-protective nature, the somewhat masochistic skulls who like having their body tunefully played with, the cool gang who need you to prove how badass you are by torrenting kid’s movies, drinking beer and spraying walls with graffiti (but NOT by throwing around bricks), and even a dreamy-sounding host named Clovis who’ll guide you through the game’s opening in such a calm and relaxing manner that you’ll be totally unprepared for the impending chaos that’s coming your way. It takes a specific sense of humour to really appreciate Accounting+ and its world, but it ticked all the right boxes for me and had me laughing throughout.
It helps that there’s some absolutely superb voice performances on show though, with some particularly fantastic efforts made by game designers Justin Roiland (of Rick and Morty fame), William Pugh and Dominik Johann (who voice the eccentric yet lovable accountants). Accounting+ is a surprisingly cinematic effort thanks to the fact that the most impressive facets of the experience are found in the characters and world around you, but it would be nothing without the great voice cast that bring everything to life.
If there’s one flaw to Accounting+ though, it’s that it’s deceivingly linear. My first impression was that there was a lot of freedom to the world, and whilst there are secrets to uncover and different ways to change your playthrough (more on that in a bit), for the most part the tasks you have to complete are pretty much set in stone. Movement is controlled through teleportation too, so you can’t freely explore every nook and cranny of your surroundings but instead focus on specific pre-set spots.
That doesn’t mean that those aforementioned tasks aren’t entertaining, though – there’s a rich variety of things to do in Accounting+ that are so anarchic that you won’t be able to help but enjoy yourself. Whether it’s stabbing some fat king and using his heart as a VR headset (really), playing on a skeleton xylophone, shooting destructive seeds at a pirate ship, or just throwing a brick through a window to prove how badass you are, you’re always guaranteed to have a good time. These things don’t really change up too much between playthroughs though; on my first run through the game I was sure there were a ton of different ways to approach each situation, but in the end you have to do what the game wants you to if you want to progress.
Or you can just have fun throwing around the items you find in your surroundings, which is something I always enjoy in virtual reality titles. There was something addictive about trying to launch my stationary around the room in the office sequence at the start of the game, so there’s certainly entertainment to be had with the LITTLE things in the game too. Don’t expect to have much luck with the semi-impossible basketball hoop in the game’s opening sequence, though – not that you need to worry too much, since tutorial host Clovis is generous with how he hands out trophies…
Outside of your main tasks, there are plenty of little secrets to uncover throughout the world of Accounting+. The linearity is always there, but those who’re willing to do a bit of digging around will find there are a few secret levels to find (please tell me if you find the ‘secret zoo level’ that’s teased during the highway chase) or alternative ways to approach certain tasks in the game.
It’s not just the secrets that are impressive though, but the sheer amount of optional voice work on offer. It’s not always totally apparent during gameplay, but the characters around you are always talking and they rarely run short of things to say – one time I stood still for a good few minutes just listening to an in-game discussion and it didn’t seem to be close to ending. As mentioned, the humour of the game is my cup of tea and the voice work is superb, so I was kept entertained by simply listening to what characters had to say at times, never mind actually progressing through the game and seeing it through to its conclusion.
It’s a good job there’s plenty to see and hear though, because Accounting+ as a whole is actually quite short. Whilst a playthrough taking in most of your surroundings and exploring the world will last over an hour, you could easily run through it in under twenty minutes if you focused on your objectives alone. It’s the sort of game that definitely needs more than one playthrough if you want to see everything though (and one of those playthroughs will have all-new audio if you follow a specific path through the game), so you shouldn’t let the short length put you off too much.
I think the best style of visuals to admire in virtual reality are the cartoony kind, so naturally I was incredibly impressed with Accounting+’s art style. The world is full of vibrant and creative features, with almost all corners of every environment you visit featuring some form of slick little detail that helps make it stand out and demonstrates the thought and care that has gone into constructing each location. Accounting+ isn’t the biggest game you’re going to play and doesn’t feature some large world that you openly get to explore, but at least each intimate locale will draw you in and leave you impressed with everything that there is to see.
Of course, the characters look great too, with some of them featuring some absolutely absurd designs that just… well… work. There’s a rich variety on offer with some mish-mashing art styles, but everything fits perfectly and helps establish the zany world of Accounting+.
Accounting+ has become one of my favourite virtual reality titles. It’s not because it gets all the fundamentals of a video game right, because honestly, from a gameplay perspective there are a lot more impressive titles available on PlayStation VR right now.
Instead, it’s because the concoction of anarchic humour, the zany characters, the vibrant and wonderful world, and all of the strange tasks it has you perform are simply fantastic to experience together as a whole, especially in virtual reality. I simply haven’t played anything quite like it before and it had me hooked in right from the start.
It’s not the sort of game that everyone will be able to enjoy, because let’s face it – it’s absolutely bonkers. However, anyone who has an appreciation for all things that defy convention will have an absolute playing through Accounting+ and witnessing its chaotically brilliant world.