I am glad I performed by The Occupation a second time. My first playthrough didn’t finish effectively. Sure, I made it to the top, I noticed a ultimate cutscene and watched the credit roll, however I would not say I reached the conclusion of the story. In truth, I felt like I would barely scratched the floor.
After ending it a second time I had a very good deal with on the main occasions of this bureaucratic thriller, nevertheless it wasn’t till I would performed all over for a 3rd time–and replayed particular person sections a number of occasions over–that I felt assured I understood the motivations of the primary characters. Even now, I am considering a fourth go in an effort to determine the smaller particulars and fathom simply how deep the conspiracy goes.
The Occupation is a story-driven stealth-adventure recreation that rewards repeat performs even when it could additionally, at occasions, really feel hostile to the concept of enabling you to delve into its narrative nooks and crannies. It tells a mature, difficult story that’s each overtly political and ambiguous sufficient to depart a lot to interpretation, whereas its core stealth mechanics ship a suitably tense expertise.
For a lot of the recreation you play as an investigative journalist who’s reporting on a terrorist assault on the stately campus of a distinguished IT firm. An immigrant worker of the corporate has been arrested in reference to the alleged bombing, however you’ve got acquired a tip-off that not all is kind of so easy. There’s additionally the matter of the corporate’s work on a private knowledge harvesting venture that appears worryingly linked to the British authorities’s proposed Union Act, an anti-immigrant and anti-civil liberty invoice about to face a vital vote in parliament. It might be set within the 1980s, however the points tackled really feel all too related in the present day. It is a sensible story that is instructed with a deft, delicate contact.
It is primarily a detective story wherein you examine scenes, collect clues, compile proof, and interrogate eye-witnesses. You may have organized interviews with three key gamers on the firm, and in between your appointments, you’ll be able to discover the workplaces. The catch: you are on a time restrict throughout every of the three essential investigative intervals. When that point is up–and it varies between 30 and 60 minutes of real-ish time–your interview begins no matter how a lot incriminating info you’ve got managed to acquire, and your line of questioning is proscribed to what you possibly can really show.
Navigating the workplace area is in itself a problem. These buildings are a maze of corridors, safety checks, staff-only areas, air flow shafts, crawlspaces, and short-term building websites. Remembering tips on how to get from one room to a different when it’s important to journey to a different ground, out and in of restricted areas, stealing an ID card right here, shutting off the mains energy there, is a stern reminiscence take a look at even when you’re conversant in the fundamental format. However the environments have an actual tactile really feel that makes you need to preserve exploring them.
Complicating issues additional, if any workers discover you in a restricted area–rifling by their submitting cupboards, for example–they’ll ask you to depart, and in case you persist, name safety. Thankfully there are gaps you possibly can exploit, each bodily ones just like the vent beneath that desk that leads into the locked room subsequent door and temporal ones like these couple of minutes it’s important to log in to somebody’s laptop and skim their emails earlier than they return from the toilet. Little touches, like pausing to shut the blinds in an workplace window earlier than persevering with your snooping, go an extended method to making you’re feeling like a real detective.
Sneaking round is your greatest wager to keep away from attracting undesirable consideration, notably from Steve, the corporate’s amiable safety man, who wanders the complicated and can usher you out of wherever you should not be. Generally he’ll spot you from a distance and are available to analyze, supplying you with time to depart the world or discover someplace to cover whereas he searches. The stealth is simply mild sufficient that you just get to really feel such as you slipped by effortlessly with out having to fret an excessive amount of about memorizing patrol patterns or protecting to the shadows. Generally it is a bit foolish, although, and requires suspension of disbelief like while you clearly sprint right into a closet from which the one exit is thru a vent, however Steve simply goes, “Huh, I’m wondering the place he went?”
On one hilarious event, Steve caught me making an attempt to entry somebody’s laptop, so I attempted ducking beneath the desk. He sighed, “I do know you are in there,” as he entered the room, walked over to the desk and crouched down subsequent to me, shining his torch immediately in my ever-so-guilty face. I might solely giggle as he escorted me exterior and gave me my ultimate warning.
Piecing collectively the clues obtained from all of your clandestine actions whilst you match them to your psychological map of the ability is extraordinarily satisfying. A crumpled notice present in a garbage can may counsel that somebody is hiding one thing, however now that you just’ve discovered a manner into their workplace you understand you don’t have the password to their laptop and should rethink your method. Your file, which updates everytime you reveal one thing of significance, suggests your subsequent steps however not often spells out the answer. When you’ve got a number of strains of investigation on the go it may be taxing to maintain all of them straight, nevertheless it’s additionally massively gratifying to scan your file once more and attempt to spot that important connection you’ve been lacking.
Nevertheless, it is extremely unlikely that anybody might gather each essential clue on their first try, which means your necessary interviews with the important thing gamers will really feel irritating and nearly painfully ineffective. There are not any do-overs with out really beginning a brand new game–the recreation autosaves solely initially of the investigation interval, and you can’t create a guide save. It is irritating while you run out of time and understand you did not gather all of the clues; on my preliminary playthrough I had nothing in any respect to pin on my first interviewee whereas I failed the second investigation interval so badly my interview was canceled totally. One possibility is to just accept failure and resign your self to taking part in by the entire thing a second time.
However I am so glad I did. On my second playthrough I used to be capable of finding extra clues that proved the corporate was mendacity about sure issues, and I found entire new areas of the workplaces I hadn’t even seen the primary time round. Nonetheless, I knew there have been issues I would missed, issues I did not but perceive.
I went again for a 3rd playthrough. I had my handwritten notes from my second playthrough, and made positive I added to them each time I turned up one thing new. However, because the minutes ticked away, I knew I wasn’t going to search out out the whole lot. Time was operating out and I nonetheless did not know tips on how to get into that workplace or how I used to be going to get that doc printed. If I went to the interview with out being absolutely ready, the sport would autosave and I would have to maneuver on whether or not I wished to or not. So I stop out. I restarted a fourth time. Then a fifth.
I nonetheless have not cracked that first interview. I’ve completed the sport 3 times now, performed that opening part six occasions, and seen two completely different endings based mostly on my selections and efficiency all through. Every time by, I’m discovering one thing new, some doc that provides to my pool of information or some beforehand unrevealed connection between two those that casts a brand new mild on their relationship. It makes me really feel like a correct detective. However it’s an arduous course of, replaying the entire part again and again, for what seems like ever-diminishing returns. I am unable to assist however want there was some form of time rewind mechanic to alleviate the repetition.
After all, it appears churlish to complain an excessive amount of a couple of recreation I am having fun with sufficient to willingly replaying it many times to discover each side of its story. The Occupation is the form of recreation you will end up interested by while you’re not taking part in it, that will get beneath your pores and skin in methods you did not even understand. I will play it once more. Perhaps this time I am going to fully crack the case.