After a heavy night, celebrating his birthday, Gary wakes up to realise that he’s incredibly late for work. Quickly realising that his job is on the line, he does what anyone in his position would do, enlist the help of his old colleague and friend, Marty, and sneaks into the office.
Oddly reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid, and Alien: Isolation, it’s up to you to guide Gary around his office block, ensuring that no one spots him, as he makes his way through 22 floors of sneaking past security guards, hiding in cabinets, and doing everything he can to avoid the gaze of his suspecting colleagues.
Along the way, you will pick up items to help Gary sneak through the office, from eraser launchers to distract guards, newspapers to hide your face, and massive account ledgers to knock out your unsuspecting adversaries. There is also the odd moment where you must combine items to create more powerful tools to aid you. One example has you dunking a doughnut into a vat of radioactive liquid, and feeding it to a security guard, which in turn gives him reason to run to the toilet, and move from his post, enabling you to pass with ease.
Unexpectedly, at the end of the four worlds you must sneak through, a boss battle is introduced to break up the pace of the game. For each fight, you must use some of the skills you learned from the previous levels, as well as work with new techniques which are introduced. The first boss you encounter, for example, you must defeat one of the chief security guards by using the metal detectors to force him to move, then use explosives to reduce his health. Easy to pick up, but tricky to perfect, once you had a grasp of what was expected of you, it took no time at all to take him down. None of the boss battles are especially hard, in fact Level 22 in general isn’t a difficult game, but timing your runs, and using the environment is key to each successful passage.
Although many mistakes will happen, and they will frustrate and annoy, more often than not errors occur due to impatience or losing concentration. Not once did I feel I was cheated when failing, and with every loss, the “one more try” mentality took hold.
Not only must you sneak your way around the office, but your friend Marty has also given you additional tasks to complete along the way. As you make your way through each floor, there are collectable figures to pick up, all parodies of popular comic and game franchises, such as Batman or Wolverine. Not only must you locate these, but there are also safety deposit boxes located throughout each world, which with successful decoding, reward you with a piece of a puzzle. The addition of the figures and puzzle pieces encourages you to replay through each level, making sure you cover every nook and cranny to achieve that elusive 100%, it also helps that upon discovering each statue, you are awarded an achievement, so gamerscore hunters are well catered for here…
Visually, Level 22 is charming and beautifully simple. With a style which harks back from the 16-bit era, it fits the overall style of the game perfectly, which wouldn’t feel out of place loaded onto an old-school arcade machine. The interface is clean and simple, and never detracts from the main action of the game. By simply displaying the tools at your disposal in the top corner of the screen, it’s easy to take note of what you have, whilst trying to dodge the glances and stares of your colleagues.
The soundtrack to Level 22 is packed full of 16-bit charm, and invokes a level of nostalgia towards the arcade games of old. Bouncy, and incredibly catchy, it is a delight to listen to, even when not playing. I must admit, I sat at the start screen for some time, just listening to the opening music.
Level 22 released on January 29 is available to buy from the Xbox Live store for £5.59, which in my opinion is an absolute steal.
Thanks to Xbox and Moving Player for their support
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