When you think of stealth games, you probably automatically think of titles like Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell. But what about a stealth game set in the office? Moving Player’s new Xbox One game Level 22 is a great variation on the genre that certainly breathes new life and a huge dollop of humour into it – but is it actually worth playing?
Level 22 starts off by introducing us to Gary, a man who just woken up with a very sore head after a heavy night on the town celebrating his birthday. The first thing Gary notices is the time; he’s slept through his alarm again and is going to be late for work. The biggest problem here is that Gary is ALWAYS late for work, and if it happens once more he is going to get fired! On his rush into the office, Gary phones his best friend for advice: how can he sneak into work without getting caught, making them think he was actually on time? Lucky for Gary, his friend used to work in the same office and was legendary for his abilities to avoid work and not get caught, so seems like the best man for the job. Gary is going to need all the help he can get if he’s going to get past security, fool his co-workers and avoid the dreaded boss and make his way to his desk to complete the ruse.
The first thing you will notice about Level 22 is the classic 16-bit style old school retro design. The sharp pixel-drawn graphics and isometric viewpoint look brilliant and really make the game stand out from the crowd. A lot of love has clearly gone into the art of this game and making it all come alive. Moving Gary around couldn’t be simpler; use the left analog stick to move around, the A button to perform actions and the d-pad to access your inventory items. It’s a very simple control scheme but it works well – it’s easy to operate and, more than anything, very efficient.
The simple objective of Level 22 is to not get seen, and you will have to use a combination of your own wits and the help of your best friend’s text messages to do it successfully. The game starts off quite easy, with you hiding behind walls, creeping past sleeping co-workers and finding things to use as a disguise in order to reach your goal. As the game goes on you, however, you will have to find new and more inventive ways to conceal yourself, as well as solving some fiendish puzzles. These will involve things such as stealing ID cards to open doors, setting booby traps and even finding ways to poison your co-workers. If you do happen to get caught, you get the chance to retry – and thankfully the game doesn’t put you too far back either. It often takes a bit of trial and error, having to make several mistakes before you find the right solution – but you will have a lot of fun doing so. For those wanting an extra challenge, there is also an added side mission of trying to find the items your friend left behind when he was unceremoniously booted from employment.
I really enjoyed Level 22; it’s a fun and quirky little game. The unique old-school graphics look great, the difficulty curve is set just right, and it can’t help but raise a smile on your face as you play. The downside is there isn’t much replayability: once you’ve completed it, there probably won’t be much reason to go back. The game isn’t particularly huge either (22 levels in all, in case you didn’t guess!) but for a downloadable indie title, that’s more than enough to be getting on with. It’s also a little disappointing that the other characters you encounter through the office were not given more personality to bring the game to life a little more, but this is a minor quibble.
If you are looking for a unique twist to the very established stealth genre, or a way to pass the time before sinking your teeth into more complex and in-depth games, then Level 22 definitely fits the bill.