There are few aspects of my personality that I can flex about, but ‘time management’ is something I am quietly confident I could take on tour. I have perfected the art of list making. It is a habit I nurtured when I first moved away from home. A period in my life when I had to combat boredom while desperately waiting for employment opportunities (daily rejections 2pm – 3pm).
So, I enjoy games that test this trait, and Click and Collect, the first game from Peacock Pie Productions, did just that. You are in control of an employee in what looks like an exact replica of the Argos store closest to where I grew up. It is uncanny. Your job is to collect items from a conveyor belt at the back of the store and serve them to customers as quickly as you can. Points are awarded for correct transactions and points deducted when things go wrong.
Each level has a three-star rating to be achieved. There are sixteen formal and timed levels, as well as four endless challenges. Each of the first sixteen missions last only a minute or so, and given there are not too many outings, it does not take long before things become difficult. As you progress through the campaign, there are more and more elements introduced, all of which are designed to hamper your productivity.
These include hazards appearing on the shop floor, your manager on the prowl looking for someone to reprimand, there is a remarkably efficient thief that comes and goes, as well as power outages that leave you serving customers by torchlight. Every now and then you have a level in which the conveyor belt runs down the middle of the screen and you are tasked with serving customers on two fronts.
I initially found these levels less enjoyable. The controls are not as precise as they need to be for what the game is wanting me to do. It left me feeling frustrated at times, but this is where your “assists” come in. By gaining high scores, you receive money which can then be spent on temporary upgrades called “assists”. You can buy these with in-game currency in the store featured on the main titles. You will need to stock up on these because some levels throw a relentless number of obstacles your way – it is almost mean.
Assists include improved speed so you can move around the store much quicker. The hazard clean-up assist means there are less hazards on the floor to spoil your day. Non-slip boots are an assist that lets you glide over puddles, rather than slipping on them and breaking the item you are carrying. There is even a fire-proof uniform which should be self-explanatory. How this store has been deemed safe for the general public is astounding.
There are eight assists in total and with a little bit of cunning, they make even the later levels far more manageable. Visually, it looks good enough for the ephemeral experience on offer. Characters are blocky, like those seen in titles such as Minecraft, and the entire game is set in one location. The music and sound effects are just what you would expect from a title in this genre. The music is calm and a soothing contrast to frequent cacophony of mechanical failings, an angry boss, valuable items being destroyed, impatient customers, and violent eruptions of pyrotechnics.
Click & Collect
When a company releases its first game, I try to focus more on the potential the game suggests the studio has. Given this is the debut release from Peacock Pie Productions, it is naturally a little rough around the edges. But there is enough here for me to be excited about their next project, especially if they plan to stick to this genre. Click and Collect is available on PC and Android.