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If Mad Men has reminded us of anything about the 1960s, it’s that it was common for office secretaries to be subject to sexual harassment in the decidedly masculine workplace. Office Rush XL doesn’t appear to take place in the '60s, but the first thing that stood out to me about this unassuming iOS game is the way the secretaries serve coffee to their bosses by offering it up to them on their knees.
I’m not going to make an issue out of the inherent sexism depicted from this; in fact I find the non-sequitur inclusion of such an act kind of hilarious, because of how ridiculously inappropriate and ill-placed it is. Nevertheless, working your way up the corporate ladder -- which, incidentally, is the object of the game -- evidently requires some compromise. It doesn’t make sense, but neither does much else in Office Rush.
As it stands, the game is basically a puzzle game with a platforming element in which you take on different roles in a nameless corporation (security, secretary, manager, all the way up to CEO). Security has to take out wayward ninjas lurking in the warehouse area, managers have to make copies, and we already know what secretaries are for, given the game’s context.
Here’s where things get a little odd: levels in the game are set up as cards that move back and forth like a slider puzzle. Since each occupation requires two actions (managers have to pick up paper before they can make copies, for example), the crux of each level isn’t getting through it, but rearranging the pieces so that you can get to fulfill whatever your required steps are in the right order.
It’s not as easy as, say, lining up two corridors to run through consecutively or positioning a couple of cards so that you can fall from a hole in the floor of one room into another. Instead of just relying on good, crafty geometric design to “fit” the level cards together, Office Rush arbitrarily forbids you from connecting certain cards to each other, even when there in the absence of in-level visual barriers or logical reasoning to do so.
It’s a cheap design ploy, one that forces you to find the solution through a system of invisible walls rather than player ingenuity, which somewhat cripples Office Rush’s interesting (if out of place) conceit. For a game that’s based putting together pieces of a puzzle, you’d think they’d have put a little more care into the design, but there’s the rub.
The bottom line. Office Rush uses an idea that’s interesting for a puzzle platformer, but its arbitrary implementation curbs its fun level a bit. Also the free version is riddled with ads.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3.0 or later
Interesting conceit and art style. Pick up and playability is high. Universal app.
Arbitrary barriers makes for shoddy design. Free version is plagued with in-game ads.