Job Quest

by Chad Comeau profile

2014

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Straightforward concept but weakly implemented, August 31, 2022

You have moved to a new town after landing a new job. There is no sure way to know what is in store for you, so you decide to take it one day at a time. Can you keep a positive attitude?

Gameplay
The gameplay cycles in a loop, with each loop consisting of a single workday. The protagonist wakes up, goes to work, and returns home to spend some free time. The interactivity mostly consists of choosing what to do after work. These choices influence the player’s stats which determines the protagonist’s performance at work the next day. The player manages six stats. These stats are fitness, relationship with friends, relationship with family, time spent working on a personal project, time spend on playing video games to relax, and tiredness.

My main critique is that these stats decrease too quickly. Over the course of five days, you go from (Spoiler - click to show) being “You’re in great shape” to “You've become weak and have visibly gained weight.” Sure, it is probably possible to gain weight in less than a week, but this seems drastic to go from the highest level for this stat down to its lowest level in so little time. Or if you do not check Facebook after a few days the game says, “You're sad about losing contact with your friends,” which is the lowest level for this stat. If the player has too many stats at the lowest level, they lose the game. There is only time for two activities per day (or three at the expense of being more tired) and managing all six stats is an uphill battle. There are also no weekends or days off at all which seems unrealistic for a game that simulates a workplace environment. If you are (Spoiler - click to show) extremely tired, you can sleep in and skip going to work which gives you the entire day to improve your stats. Unfortunately, your boss will fire you which ends the game.

Story
The game does a decent job of capturing the monotony of a job and I like the idea of having random events outside of the protagonist’s job thrown in to make it more realistic. However, the only special event that occurs is (Spoiler - click to show) when your car breaks down, requiring that you get it fixed. I think that the game would have been stronger if it added more of this variation and focused on strategizing with life events rather than leaving the player to drown in managing stats.

The difficulty of managing stats in this game results (Spoiler - click to show) in a poorly implemented ending. Once the player builds up too many low stats the game suddenly says, “You can't sleep because your life sucks. GAME OVER” which is followed by a link called, “Continue?” The game lets you keep playing but it is impossible to improve your situation. This was frustrating and felt sloppy. Perhaps the game is trying to make the point that sometimes it is too overwhelming to manage so many areas of your life all in one go. But the way the game conveys this with its ending is ineffective.

Is it possible to win this game? If you mean in terms of (Spoiler - click to show) the protagonist succeeding at their job than I believe the answer is no. But I did find an ending that could be interpreted as a win. You end up being recruited by a secret organization that sponsors people to win track races. That means quitting your job, which the protagonist gleefully does. The mysterious man who recruits you explains that you will be flown to an island where a new track is being built, the first of its kind. The game then ends on a cliff hanger and says that the story will continue in a game called Job Quest II: Jog Quest. I am not sure if the author is planning to produce this game, but it would be cool to see where the story goes. It also sounds more exciting than the desk job featured in Job Quest. I must admit this secret ending made me smile.

Visual design
The game has a clean visual appearance. It uses black text and blue links inside a white box with a small border against a grey screen. I have seen this colour and format design in other Twine games and it always succeeds in creating a polished look without being overly stylized.

Final thoughts
I like the game’s concept of settling into a new job. The briefness of each day keeps a steady pace and simplifies the gameplay. All you need to do is balance the activities that you do in your free time. The downside is that the implementation of the protagonist’s stats makes the game feel clunky. The player feels like it is impossible to win, and any premature ending feels especially incomplete. Nonetheless, this game is another take of the slice-of-life workplace genre that carries its own charm. If you feel like playing an idle Twine game that (Spoiler - click to show) may or may not have a secret ending than give Job Quest a try.