Overview – developed by Forust Studio and published by Leoful, The Company Man is a Platform action title where the player must fight the corporate machine. As Jim, battle your way to the top of the corporate ladder, using your trusty keyboard as you battle your way to becoming CEO, all while trying to survive the brutal hazards of the office. This title is available as a console exclusive for the Nintendo Switch, if you want to check this game out for yourself, a link to the game will be at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Leoful for providing the copy of The Company Man that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review. I will be skipping the story segment to prevent spoilers, so I will be moving directly into the gameplay section.
Gameplay – The Company Man is a 2D action platformer, where the objective is to get Jim it to the boss of each area while fighting enemies and avoiding the hazards of each zone. To achieve this goal, Jim has access to his mighty keyboard, a weapon that can be used as both a melee and ranged weapon. As a melee weapon, the player swings the keyboard like a sword, alongside a basic ranged attack called the Email Blaster, with additional upgrades unlocked over time.
Since this is a platform title, there is a requirement for smooth and precise movements, especially with moving platforms and hazards that must be avoided. To make some of the tougher gaps easier to cross, Jim can jump fairly high and use his dash ability, propelling him forward to reach platforms that may seem out of reach. The dashing can also be useful when fighting enemies, letting the player dodge attacks and quickly close in on enemies which is very handy in boss battles.
The enemies in this title have unique attacks, with quirky animations that make them stand out from each other. An example of this is the way that some customer service enemies breathe fire and the first mid boss uses a phone as a flaming whip to attack Jim. There is a good balance to combat with a good amount of post hit invincibility, subtle knockback and animations that signal enemy attacks. All of the combat and platforming elements work well, for a challenging yet not overly difficult experience.
When Jim defeats an enemy, they drop coins that can be used to buy upgrades from the coffee shop located in the lobby, powering him up to make surviving the chaos of the office a little easier. The power-ups that Jim can obtain include extra health, extra energy for special attacks and even the ability to knock projectiles out the air. These upgrades become very important, as the stages get increasingly tougher, especially when it comes to the boss battles.
The boss battles of this title are designed very well, with each boss fitting the theme of the area that Jim is currently in, using elements of the stage itself to enhance each battle. With attack patterns for the bosses that are thematic to their department, like the customer service boss using interns as weapons as they are the lowest member of the office. These touches add to the fun of the experience, making for an entertaining challenge during play.
The last thing to talk about is the generous checkpoint system. Throughout the stages and in the lobby which acts as a “home base” between areas, Jim can drink coffee that refills his health and lets him restart from that point. The frequency of checkpoints make the tougher parts of the game feel less daunting than they may appear, giving the player an easy restart at mid bosses and end of stage bosses. Some checkpoints will also occur after area transitions, reducing the punishment of death further during play.
Now with the gameplay covered, I will be moving onto the other areas of the game, starting with controls.
Controls – the control method for this title is simple and works very well, with all abilities on the face buttons and weapon upgrades attached to the front shoulders. The movement controls are tied to the D-pad and thumbstick, with all inputs having no issues with input lag but there is a cool down to some attacks and the dash, which may feel like lag. The game plays very well with all controller types and in both docked and undocked game modes, offering fun at home and on the go.
Difficulty – there is a balanced difficulty curve to this title, with a tutorial during the first stage of the game and whenever there is a new upgrade unlocked. The tutorial helps get adjusted to how the game plays out, easing the player into the experience to allow time to get used to the mechanics. The generous checkpoints work well to prevent a feeling of frustration when dying, letting the player push forward with few setbacks.
Presentation – this title has a fantastic look to it, with a cartoonish look and expressive animations that bring the personality of the characters out, especially with Jim. When Jim is running, jumping and attacking enemies, he has animations that are entertaining to watch, alongside the transition animations that are fun to watch between stages/areas. The backgrounds and stages are fantastically designed, with detailed environments that all have their own individual themes.
The whole game is wonderfully designed, with characters that have a special charm to their look that keeps the game fresh throughout. This helps to engage the player for the duration of the experience, preventing extended play from getting boring. The Sound design for this release is a great accompaniment for the visuals, with music that fits each area well and impactful sound effects that add that extra depth to the whole ensemble.
Final Thoughts – I had seen trailers for this title and thought that it would be a nice simple platformer, but I was sorely mistaken. The Company Man is a charming, well laid out and at times hilarious release that makes me so happy that we have a thriving Indie market right now. The characters all have their own unique touches and some seem to be references to characters from popular media, which is a fantastic touch.
I have absolutely no problem at all recommending this game to everyone. The action is balanced well, the platforming is tight and responsive and if mistakes were made, they were all the result of player error. There was nothing that brought down the release and this is strong opener for the year. I will be returning to this title again and again, because it is just so much fun to sit and play no matter where I am.
In the end, I give The Company Man a final score of 5/5. This action platformer is filled with charming characters, beautifully animated and designed environments, engaging gameplay and is an overall fantastic experience. This is a fantastic release to kick off 2022. If you want to check this title out for yourself, a link to the game will be below with a physical version on PlayAsia (affiliate link to support the site).
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to Physical version via PlayAsia (HERE)