Platforms Vive, PSVR (reviewed)
Developer Owlchemy Labs
Publisher Owlchemy Labs
Release Date April 5, 2016 (Vive)
October 13, 2016 (PSVR)

Job Simulator is a game about performing mundane tasks in an absurd environment. The year is 2050 and Humans have forgotten how to “job” – enter JobBot and his job museum, the perfect way for Humans to experience the thrill of having a job. Thanks to the simulations on offer at the job museum, the people of 2050 can experience and learn how to job.

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As its name might imply, Job Simulator takes a concept that sounds really boring and presents it in an entertaining way, joining the scores of “simulator” games that aim to create wacky and hilarious experiences around mundanity. What sets Job Simulator apart from most of its genre stablemates is that it succeeds. Owlchemy Labs have created a series of preposterous scenarios that are far more entertaining than they should be.

Players can choose from one of four jobs to experience – from gourmet chef to store clerk, office worker or auto-repair mechanic. Once you’ve selected the type of job you’d like to try out you’re thrust into the middle of that situation, with JobBot on hand to give you helpful hints along the way. Thanks to the power of virtual reality, you’ll actually be transported behind a shop counter of inside an office cubicle.

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Job Simulator is a concept that wouldn’t work without VR. Owlchemy Labs have leveraged virtual reality with skill, making use of a pair of move controllers to act as hands and tasking you with manually performing mundane tasks. Job Simulator’s magic, however, is in allowing you to perform these tasks in as absurd a way as possible. Even playing the game “straight” and simply following the jobs and tasks you are assigned will often lead to ridiculous situations arising.

Of course, you won’t simply follow instructions to the letter, and the game both supports and even encourages you to experiment with creative ways to fulfil your job and goof off. Making a soup with fire extinguisher fluid and bottles of wine, shooting fireworks at irritating customers or simply firing staples at your office mates all become a standard part of your experience.

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Luckily Job Simulator’s intuitive gameplay and simple controls make this an early VR success. The entire game more or less revolves around picking things up and putting them down, which is something you learned how to do a long time ago. When the game wants you to make a sandwich, you’re not really going to struggle to put one together. Job Simulator quickly points out everything that you need to know, mostly where stuff is, and then gets out of your way to just let you have some fun.

It’s the way that each environment has been laid out for players that really helps sell Job Simulator as a great game and a truly immersive experience. You’re placed in the middle of your workspace, with everything you need easily within arms reach. As you quickly become more comfortable with how the game operates and what it expects from you, you’ll start to very quickly and adeptly manipulate everything around you. Within around half an hour of play time, I was already at a point where I was able to multitask, closing a fridge while handing someone their change or turning a sink off while grilling a steak.

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And when I say everything is in arms reach, I really do mean everything. Job Simulator is built on a fantastic series of mechanics that pack a heck of a lot into a relatively small space. The game gives you an awesome sense of actually feeling like you’re in a completely different world. Everything is smartly laid out and easy to find. Most workstations also come with dials to swap out various workstations or surfaces. The kitchen, for example, allows you to swap out between a microwave, sink or sandwich board at will, which helps to keep environments uncluttered and simple to use.

There’s a ton of small touches that really help drive home the great experience too. Throwing objects at other robots will generally elicit a response of some kind. Any food or drink can be consumed by holding it up to your face. And there’s a huge amount of information, jokes and world building hidden around the various environments if you choose to take a look around. Job Simulator has an incredibly goofy sense of humour, as you might expect from a “simulator” game, but when coupled with the absurd premise and cartoon graphics it works tremendously.

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The game also functions incredibly well. Job Simulator is one of the few Playstation VR experiences that requires the use of Move controllers. They track your movement incredibly well, though if you turn too far you risk blocking the controllers from the camera, causing your hands to disappear. While this did happen to me a couple of times it never impeded my ability to play the game, or my enjoyment of it. Job Simulator somehow takes the room-scale VR experience and makes it successfully work on Playstation, which is an achievement in its own right and one that should be commended.


Summary

Job Simulator is a delightful game to play, and an early standout in a packed Playstation VR launch line-up. Its intuitive controls and smartly designed enviornemnts ensure that you’ll be having fun within minutes of picking it up, and it’s also a game that will be particularly inviting to VR newcomers. At the end of the day, Job Simulator is simply a huge amount of fun to mess around with, going out of its way to reward you for, and encourage you to, let loose with your creativity and approach its tasks however you see fit. Or throw fruit and your customers. 

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