Who would have thought that climbing the corporate ladder would be so dangerous and involve beating up your fellow employees with a keyboard? That’s exactly what you do in The Company Man, the wacky 2D platforming adventure from developer Forust that sees players work their way up to become CEO of the company they work at. You don’t do it through job promotions though, but rather by beating down everyone in your way. Managers? Colleagues? Bosses? You can all get it.
It’s a peculiar idea and one that certainly differs from your typical platforming adventure, but it works. Sure, The Company Man might not always feel wholly original from a gameplay perspective, but there’s no doubting that its quirky premise offers a lot of fun.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
The Company Man puts players in the role of Jim, an office worker at The Good Water Company. Whilst it’d be easy for him to rest on his laurels and stick to his cosy role, some antics from the higher ups see Jim demoted to Customer Service on his first day. Believe me, I can tell you from my own experience, NOBODY wants to work in Customer Service. Thus, Jim embarks on an adventure to make his way up to the top and take charge of the company, all whilst taking out all office worker minions and idiot managers along the way.
If only it was that easy, huh? It’s a quirky and unusual narrative but one that I enjoyed being a part of as I worked my way to the top. There’s plenty of nods to popular culture along the way too, especially the TV show The Office. As if the fact that you’re playing as a lanky character named Jim wasn’t enough, the first boss you encounter just so happens to look like a familiar beet farmer too…
Working their way up from the lower echelons of Customer Service through the other departments of the company, players will run, jump and dash across platforms, whack enemies with their trusty keyboard, and unlock all sorts of new abilities as they strive towards glory. The Company Man is very traditional and old-school as far as the genre is concerned, with hand-crafted levels full of tricky platforming segments that demand pixel-perfect manoeuvres from the player. What helps make each level feel more unique is the different themes that they embrace, with each department offering something a little bit different for the player to adapt to. It certainly helps defy expectations as to what you’d expect from an office environment, especially when you’re in levels that are frozen, blasting workers out of pipes in the ceiling, or turned into a jungle full of greenery (though I have encountered a few ‘animals’ in the offices I’ve worked at).
“The Company Man is very traditional and old-school as far as the genre is concerned, with hand-crafted levels full of tricky platforming segments that demand pixel-perfect manoeuvres from the player.”
Whilst these different themed levels do bring new threats to Jim, there’s nothing that feels wholly unique from a gameplay perspective. There was no hazard or platforming challenge that I hadn’t seen done before in other 2D platformers, whilst the enemies I faced off against all brought a similar threat with their mixture of ranged or melee attacks. Don’t get me wrong, facing off against vengeful office workers that breathe fire was really cool to see in-game, but it didn’t challenge me in any way that made me think ‘I haven’t seen this done before’. I thought it could have done more with the whole office environment from a gameplay perspective, so it was hard not to feel a little underwhelmed there.
Still, with the sheer variety of enemies and obstacles you face that are unique to each level, it’s hard to complain too much – especially since the platforming is actually pretty fun. The Company Man deserves top marks for variety and giving players something different to do, whilst the boss battles that act as a finale to each level offer a stern test of both your combat and platforming skills as you deal with the unpredictable move set of a more formidable foe. There was plenty of challenge to be found in these boss fights but in a fair way, with each one offering a fun showdown that will rarely frustrate players (even if you can expect to die a few times as you figure out how best to approach them).
Players will also learn new attacks when they defeat bosses, with each themed around sending out e-mails. I know, I know, you’re wondering how an e-mail can cause harm, right? Well, in The Company Man, e-mails act as ranged attacks – ‘Spam’ blasts out a huge energy beam of e-mails that’ll annihilate anything in their path, for example, whilst ‘Reply All’ bursts out damage over a more immediate but wider range. Then you can just send out standard ‘E-Mails’ which can hurt enemies at a distance, which is especially handy with some foes in the game that do a lot of up-close area-of-effect damage to Jim. They’re all cool additions that add a bit more punch to Jim’s arsenal, with his standard ‘whacking with a keyboard’ only having a short range that isn’t always super effective.
“The Company Man deserves top marks for variety and giving players something different to do, whilst the boss battles that act as a finale to each level offer a stern test of both your combat and platforming skills as you deal with the unpredictable move set of a more formidable foe.”
Additional upgrades can also be earned by spending the money you earn at the Coffee Shop, with different stat-based buffs and special abilities on offer for those willing to spend some dollar. A lot of these are typical of the genre and won’t change things up too much, though being able to hit projectiles away with your keyboard or earning HP with each enemy kill will go a long way in making your life easier in the game – I’d definitely recommend looking at grabbing those first.
One thing that’s worth mentioning is that it won’t take players too long to actually beat the game, with my playtime coming in at just under four hours. I can’t say that the game offered a whole lot that would make me want to do a second run either, with no unlockables or additional game modes pushing me to reach CEO status another time. In fairness, the one playthrough was enough to keep me entertained, but those who want a bit more bang for their buck might have hoped for a little bit more.
I will heap a ton of praise on the game’s visuals though, which were top notch throughout. The wacky Saturday Morning Cartoon-style aesthetic fits the tone of the adventure perfectly, with some sublime character art and animations on offer throughout. Even Jim’s run kept a smile on my face thanks to the over-exaggerated nature of it, whilst you just NEVER quite know what you’re going to see going on in the often bizarre but always impressive backgrounds. It’s just a good-looking game.
The Company Man Review
The Company Man may not be the most original of 2D platforming adventures, but it certainly makes climbing the corporate ladder a fun (and often outrageous) task. The platforming was enjoyable, beating up bosses was satisfying, whilst the visuals were top notch too – it really does tick a lot of boxes as far as the genre is concerned, even if the adventure itself is a short-lived one that doesn’t really do anything you wouldn’t have seen before. But hey, who needs originality when you’re bashing annoying co-workers and managers over the head with a keyboard, right?
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC