White-collar boredom and ennui are a favorite pop-culture theme, with expressions running from Office Space to Dilbert. On Facebook, the theme’s latest incarnation is Office Wars, a new title from Broken Bulb Studios.
In Office Wars, the player takes on the role of an unseen manager of a small, but growing office. Starting with a single employee, the goal is to build up a small army, equip them with a variety of tongue-in-cheek weapons, and then sally forth to beat the tar out of the employees in other offices. With its fun, offbeat art style and attention to its make-believe world of corporate competition, Office Wars definitely feels like it has hit a winning formula.
However, it’s also a slightly unusual title for Facebook, in that it involves both direct competition with other players and concepts that will be most recognizable to traditional gamers, like levels and character training. When you first enter Office Wars, you’re presented with your empty office, where you can log onto your computer to find your first employee.
Although each potential employee shows a personality, there’s no indication of what the actual differences are between each hire. That comes soon after making a choice, though. In the management room of your office, you can delve into the specific traits of each employee: health, strength, agility, defense and critical hits, not to mention the clothes (effectively armor) they wear and the weapon they wield.
That’s quite a lot to juggle for a Facebook game, especially considering that you’ll eventually build a team in which each employee can have a different characteristics.
Luckily, Office Wars isn’t a particularly punishing game for the ignorant. Once you’ve got your employee outfitted, it’s time to head off to battle against another player. This is done through another “door” in the office, which presents you with a menu of potential opponents.
After picking one, it’s time to sit back and watch the fight. Like other games of its type on Facebook, Office Wars takes the actual fighting out of the players’ hands, and you can even skip watching — although there’s some amusement value to seeing your peons line up for the fight wielding an odd assortment of potted plants, staplers, giant shrimp and other paraphernalia.
As the fight rages, some of your employees will lose all their health and disappear. This is where Broken Bulb tied in a time management aspect to the game; your office has a combined health bar that must regenerate after each battle, unless you spend coins to instantly regenerate with the first aid kit. For now, though, health regenerates quite quickly.
If you lose the fight, no sweat; there’s no real negative, beyond losing a lot more health. If you win, you get two set rewards, experience and coins. There’s also a set of surprise rewards, including items dropped on the battlefield — a great way to get new weapons in the beginning — and achievements from accomplishing certain feats, like winning a fight against particularly high (or low) odds.
Achievements and levels are the source of the second in-game currency, brownie points. While coins are used to purchase equipment and new employees, brownie points are the only way to train your characters to higher ability levels. They’re also the game’s premium currency, and can be used for most things that coins can.
Although Office Wars isn’t terribly original, it does push a few new concepts for gamers whose sole experience is on Facebook. And in this case, originality isn’t the key; the real attraction to Office Wars will be the humorous artwork and references to cultural icons like Office Space, especially for players who already work within the gloomy confines of a corporate office.
And there’s probably no shortage of those. Since it began growing at the beginning of last week, Office Wars has picked up 415,338 monthly active users — an impressive gain for a small developer like Broken Bulb, which also did well with its previous titles, Ninja Warz and My Town.