Maybe it’s the novelty of virtual reality, but a common thread I’ve seen amongst PlayStation VR launch titles is that even the most mundane tasks are fun and refreshing in virtual reality. Did I think that in 2016 that I would be raving about working as a convenience store clerk? Of course not, but 2016 has been a super weird year for gaming (a year in which a certain degree of weirdness is already expected).
Yet, somehow that is where I find myself. One of the most fun experiences I’ve had this year was grilling terrible hot dogs for customers, stealing their hats, and then charging them for items I scanned three times without them somehow noticing. That’s the magic of Job Simulator, the latest game to come from the minds over at Owlchemy Labs. Its premise is pretty absurd, as it takes place at a future museum that celebrates the jobs that humans used to have before floating robots started to do everything.
That means, much like the player wearing the virtual reality headset, everything that goes on is for the novelty. It’s all about getting to experience life from a different angle, and it’s absolutely brilliant. There are four separate jobs available: store clerk, office worker, gourmet chef and auto mechanic. All totally fine jobs in their own right, although none of them really strikes me as a dream come true.
Each individual job is separated into different tasks that the player has to fulfill. Each scene is relatively straightforward and instruction is always given so the player isn’t left totally confused. For example, in the office worker simulation I had to plug in my computer, login using the hilarious keyboard that just has 0 and 1 keys, and then delete the thousands of emails in my inbox. All of this is accomplished by using PlayStation Move controllers that end up mimicking hands on-screen.
Intelligently, the team behind Job Simulator made sure not to make the game too complicated and all players ever do with objects is grab them with the trigger. That limited, yet key, interactivity makes every world seem approachable. The rules are determined early, and it never deviates from it. It’s also smart since PlayStation Move controllers aren’t the height of technology, and the tracking can get a little wonky (although that’s not the game’s fault, just that the PSVR hardware doesn’t always work great). While I did run into occasions where I had difficulty grabbing items I needed, it never became unplayable for me.
It’s also worth noting that Job Simulator is one of the few PlayStation VR games that will require players to need some space. Not a ton, as they’ve managed to make the environments much smaller from the HTC Vive version of the game, but I definitely needed a few feet to reach around my virtual cubicle or kitchen. So, players should make sure they have enough playing space before they purchase, or they’ll find themselves unable to reach areas of the environment.
While most of the tasks at their core are completely banal, they are made hilarious by how ridiculous the situations can get. This is largely due to the museum getting a lot of details wrong about the past, and it makes sense that robots would be unable to decipher human slang. In one situation, I was asked by a robot customer to play a “burn CD.” This actually required me to light the compact disk on fire before I put it in the boombox, and I just absolutely lost it while playing. No matter how boring a job might be, I was always laughing due to the numerous gags that Job Simulator packed into each situation.
It’s certainly easy to dismiss Job Simulator as a joke game, as it is meant to be funny, but weirdly enough I actually started getting into my virtual jobs. Maybe it just speaks to the fact that I always take pride in my work and never want to do anything halfway, but I actually wanted to do these tasks well. When I was creating ridiculous culinary concoctions in the gourmet chef simulation, I made sure that the ingredients weren’t burnt and tried to make good dishes. Sure, sometimes I would take a bite out of it before I served it to the customer, but I was just making sure it was good to go!
Each of the four experiences takes about forty-five minutes to complete (although it definitely varies depending on how much the player goofs around in the environments), so Job Simulator isn’t a very long experience. It is, however, one of the most unique games I’ve played in years and one that was an absolute blast from start to finish. Definitely take a look at what Owlchemy Labs have created, even if you’re not looking for a new vocation at the moment.
This review is based on the PSVR version, which we were provided with.
Job Simulator manages to make the most inane tasks fun with satisfying gameplay and witty dialogue. It's easily one of the highlights of PlayStation VR's launch and should be played by every owner who has the space to do so.