Are you reading this right now while sitting behind a monitor at your day job? Are you stuck in a cubicle? Salary Man Escape understands your dilemma and all the life struggles that go along with it. It wants you to help him escape this torture and to do that you’ll be playing a pleasant puzzle game.
Salary Man Escape is filled with a satirical tone as soon as you start the game up. From your welcoming letter, where the company tells you to not disappoint them, though the update that you are the best employee of the day – even though they told someone else that 15 mins ago – it just takes a stab at your typical working environment that we all can relate to. To do that they’ve wrapped this up in a game that is in essence Jenga with improvements in a virtual world.
Knock, knock. Who’s there?
The Salary Man is indicated by the character wearing a suit and holding a briefcase. Your task is a simple one – lead him through the door that appears somewhere on the level. This door could be right in front, below or above your Salary Man, but it’s the obstacles in your way that pose the main problem. In the world there are blocks or items made up of white and red parts. The red parts can be moved and altered, while the white items react to what you might have changed, but can’t be moved by you at all. The very first level has you sliding a block into place that has your Salary Man bolt through the door ahead. Whenever you see a blue guideline appearing, from your Salary Man to the door, you know that you’ve just solved the puzzle. Solving it is a breeze at first, but with puzzle games being puzzle games, that won’t last too long.
Salary Man Escape is filled with a satirical tone as soon as you start the game up.
The first episode, made up of 13 stages, will simply have you moving blocks to find a route to the door. Episode 2 introduces weight scale problems you have to solve, Episode 3 adds glass (platforms that disintegrates if there is too much weight on them), Episode 4 drops in some conveyors to throw everything you knew on its head, Episode 5 confuses you with new obscure shapes to deal with and the last Episode will combine it all to leave you with the most complicated puzzles to solve. Oh, and that last episode also comes with ‘security guards’ to pass without them seeing you. One touch and it is game over. Each puzzle must be solved in a particular time, though there are checkpoints to assist. Problem is that, should you run out of time, you’ll restart the stage from the beginning anyway. A bit of an oversight to say the least. Should you press the start button and select ‘restart at checkpoint’ before the timer runs out you’ll get your time back and restart at the checkpoint. So, it can be done manually, but it’s a little silly. Thankfully the difficulty progression in Salary Man Escape stands out as I never found it to spike as some puzzle games do. You will be challenged, but it’s a gradual climb. The real question is, do you use the Dualshock 4 or Move controller?
Show tradition the door
I tested both and though the Dualshock 4 controller works just fine I found that the natural movements in reaching out to grab a block and place or move it, just feels much better by using the Move controller. Pressing and holding the Move button, along with strokes of your arm to the left or right, will have you panning or turning the stage to get the best possible view. I had some head-scratching moments towards the end that simply required me to change my point of view to discover my initial mistake. I also felt that the Move controller was way more precise than the Dualshock 4. You’ll also be glad to hear that you only require one Move controller to play this game.
In each stage you’ll find a coin to collect. These are basically for the purists to challenge themselves. There are several routes to get to the door, but there is only ever one route to get to both the coin and door. This artificially lengthens the time you’ll spend with the game considerably. If you’re happy with just reaching the door to help the poor sod escape it’ll last you about three to four hours of play, which is more than enough for a solid VR session. Where it does fall flat a little is with some of the most annoying music. When it comes to a puzzle game the music needs to hold your attention and help you put those brain cells in place to solve something that’s challenging you, but it’s just not the case here. It’s some form of jazzy nonsense that had me turning it off about 10 minutes in. Silence is a much better option.
You will be challenged, but it’s a gradual climb.
Salary Man Escape is by no means the toughest puzzle game you’ll ever play, but if you enjoy a bit of satirical humour combined with basic block solving problems then this is the perfect game to play in VR. You end up escaping reality for a few hours and in doing so help a poor overworked employee escape his tormenting workplace. Everyone is a winner.