Title: It'll Look Great On Your Résumé
With a title like It'll Look Great On Your Résumé, I wasn't really sure what to expect going into this game. If I hadn't already read a bit about it or taken time to look into the promotional screenshots, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have expected a brightly-coloured arcade platformer centred around collecting neon-pink balls whilst avoiding being shot at by laser turrets. I would've probably expected something more in the vein of the infinitely varied "simulator" games that don't seem to stop popping up on Steam! In any case, the basic premise of this game is that you're taking part in a job interview process and as part of that you're asked to complete a set of tasks meant to test your suitability for the job. These tasks are ultimately the platform sequences I just mentioned, which basically means that these storyline sequences are nothing more than a cute, delightful façade implemented to lend reason to the platforming elements on show. They're neat, but they didn't really impress any sense of importance on me and so I didn't really pay them much mind.
Super serious storyline! Honest!
As I just alluded to, there's a simple premise to the platforming mechanics involved in this game. You jump around and collect neon-pink balls whilst trying to avoid all of the things that are attempting to kill you. There's a variety of different things that can and will kill you if you touch them, ranging from "enemies" that patrol around the map to turrets that fire missiles at you to lava pits that you can fall into. Thankfully, the many types of obstacle that you have to avoid are all pretty well-worn archetypes that are well well-enough differentiated from one another that they're very easy to get used to and understand. Not that finding them easy to understand always means that they're easy to avoid because the number of "enemies" that are on the screen at once can become pretty hard to keep track of, especially later in the game!
There is a further mechanic that the game uses to keep things interesting and this is way that the game frequently changes the direction that gravity drags both you and any "enemy" influenced by gravity. Each level will start with gravity dragging everything to the bottom of the map (as you'd expect), but every now and again this will switch (with a nice visual representation to warn you) and you'll find that gravity is now dragging you to the other side of the screen. Depending on the timing, this can be a welcome change or a very frustrating change, because it's just as likely to pull you into something that's gonna kill you as it is to make collecting the next ball easier. It definitely led to me swearing a lot at the screen, especially in the later levels where the difficulty is ramped up to maximum, but I think that's sometimes the point of an arcade-style platformer. I don't think that the developer would be doing it right if the game wasn't capable of frustrating you, and it isn't as if the game is unfair about it because gravity changes are very well indicated and also apply to enemies just as much as they apply to you!
There's usually a lot going on, which makes it quite easy to die!
Having just spoke about how the game can sometimes be rage-inducing, I feel I should mention that the difficulty level goes from moderate to difficult fairly quickly, by which I mean there's a fairly sharp learning curve. Despite this, I don't think that the game ever really becomes overly frustrating; it definitely has frustrating moments, as I just mentioned, but you'll never feel horribly overwhelmed or feel like you've been cheated. The second part of that sentence is really important because games like this are definitely supposed to annoy you at times, but they also have to feel fair and this game hits that balance perfectly. If the game was as difficult as it is and also felt unfair then this review would be reading a lot different than it does. As a bit of an aside, I do wonder how much of that "fairness" comes from the fact that you can seemingly take as much time as you want without being punished for it, and that there isn't really much punishment for dying. Both of these factors definitely remove a lot of potential frustration from the game. I probably wouldn't have minded there being a true "game over" condition given the "job interview" premise of the game, but maybe that's just me showing my age? The idea of having a proper "game over" just doesn't seem to be a popular feature of the platform genre any longer (or any genre, to be perfectly honest). I also think this game would be nigh-impossible to complete if there was a true "game over" system, so that's also something worth thinking about!
Anyway, aside over, I'll move onto the graphics because graphics are really important in a fast-paced arcade game like this one. The graphics need to be clean and simple because the player shouldn't be thinking too much about what different graphics mean whilst simultaneously trying to dodge all the things trying to kill them, and the graphics in this game do exactly that. It's obvious what everything means and this makes the mechanics even more intuitive than they already are, a good example of which being the indicator that comes up when the gravity of a level is about to shift. But don't let my emphasis on how clean the graphics are take anything away from how beautiful this game looks when in motion; they graphics aren't just functional, they also look amazing and that's much to the credit of the developer.
Lava pits? Check! Pink ball to chase? Check! Blue ball to dodge? Check!
I should mention some problems I had with this game from a technical standpoint, and having read into it I don't believe that these problems are inherently part of using the Unity engine to develop a game. One problem is that you have no option but to play in full-screen mode because (as far as I can tell) there is absolutely no option to go into windowed mode. This might seem like a minor gripe, but when the game also takes over your second monitor whilst open (blacking it out completely) then that can be fairly annoying. I can't be the only person who has two monitors and likes to have Twitter/Facebook open on their second window just in case someone wants to talk to them! To further compound this problem, I also found that if I came out of the game for any reason (because I had used ALT+TAB to get out of the game or because something had popped up in the background) then I didn't seem to be able to get back into the game; there was an icon on the task-bar but clicking on it did nothing. It didn't even let me close the game, which meant that I had to bring up the control panel just so that I could close the game in order to restart it! Quite frustrating...
Be ready to play before pressing start; much like an actual job interview, this game doesn't deal well with being interrupted!
But technical gripes aside, I think this is a very solid arcade platformer. There aren't really many things that the game does wrong. It has a challenging difficulty curve that keeps you interested throughout; the game manages to have the frustrating moments that all platformers require without ever making you feel like the computer is being a cheating bastard; the graphics convey exactly what needs to be conveyed whilst still managing to be very eye-catching; and to top it off, the game has a charming, occasionally funny job interview scenario pasted over the top of the action just so that each level possesses a smidgen on contextualisation.
There's very little that you can point at in this game and say, "this isn't done correctly". It'll Look Great On Your Résumé is a very solid arcade game, and this is despite some technical issues with how the program itself operates. I definitely recommend that people give this game a look if they haven't already. 8/10.