Owlchemy Labs has been a keen supporter of virtual reality (VR) for a number of years, with AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaCULUS!!!, the Oculus Rift compatible edition of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome, being one of the first titles to officially support the head-mounted display (HMD) on Steam. The studio’s next VR venture however, Job Simulator, will be going in a different direction as it’s set to be offered as a launch title for the Valve and HTC collaboration: the HTC Vive.
Job Simulator was first revealed back in March of this year alongside the HTC Vive hardware itself. The title is most definitely a tongue-in-cheek look at conducting menial jobs in VR; though a comparison to Bossa Studios’ Surgeon Simulator is perhaps inevitable, it’s similar in spirit only, not form or function.
A story that holds little significance to the gameplay sees you entering a VR world within the VR world of your PC desktop. In the year 2050 robots have taken responsibility for most of the world’s jobs, and so humans are now trying to remember just what it was like to be forced to grind away the hours with the view of earning a living wage. A simulation is offered to allow humans to do just that, however, it’s a simulation created by the robots themselves, and as such is pretty far from accurate.
The first of these job simulations offered by Owlchemy Labs is that of being a chef. In your kitchen you are armed with a stove, microwave, refrigerator and all the tools/ingredients required to make some delicious dishes. Or not, as Job Simulator doesn’t actually care whether or not you make any attempt whatsoever to succeed in its challenges.
The objectives are listed out to the player on a screen just ahead of the front-facing view and the ever-friendly Job Bot doles out instructions when it feels you may need them. However ignoring it – or better yet, actively trolling the intentionally ambiguous machine – is decidedly more fun. Asked to cook a steak? You could well pick up that meat, place it in the pan and allow it to sizzle before presenting it on a plate and offering it to a waiter ready for delivery to the restaurants’ patronage. More enjoyable however, is attempting to juggle the steak, throwing it at the wall, or at Job Bot itself.
Job Simulator has been created with the idea that it should just be fun. And it is. The demands placed upon the player can barely be considered anything more than hopeful suggestion as the kitchen provides a veritable playground of intrigue. Interactive elements completely removed from the task at hand litter the environment, and given the use of the HTC Vive’s roomscale technology it’s quite easy to spend more time playing with these than actually attempting to complete the objectives laid out for you. And of course, Job Simulator is fine with this.
At this point you may be wondering exactly what the core mechanic of Job Simulator actually is. Well, in truth it’s not yet known. Too much time has been spent messing about and simply having fun in the VR space. If this in itself is the core gameplay loop of Job Simulator than Owlchemy Labs will surely have a must-have experience on their hands. Tying down the fun of a light-hearted, often comical videogame such as Job Simulator with taxing gameplay challenges could possibly mar the experience. Job Simulator is currently presented as meaningless nonsense, and VRFocus wouldn’t wish it to be anything else.