Developer: Monkey Moon
Release Date: October 17, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Raw Fury
Genre: Sim Management
One of the many reasons Video Games can be so interesting as a medium is how the gameplay can benefit a narrative, leading to an experience that sticks with you for a while. Some games are desperate for you to think their narratives are meaningful, like The Last Of Us or BioShock Infinite. It takes something special to blend the two; French development company, Monkey Moon’s Flat Eye, is one of them.
Flat Eye is a management simulator that wants to talk about the future. You play as a new work-from-home manager for the titular company, managing one of their signature convenience store/service station hybrids in Iceland. In these stores, they have One clerk, and it’s your job to direct them to manage the entire thing. In addition, you construct the layout of the facilities in the station, like stock shelving, toilets, and bins.
Then you direct your clerk to serve customers, restock shelves, perform general maintenance, and- oh! Did they just get electrocuted to fix a geothermal pump?
Whoopsie, they’re dead now! Luckily, people need money desperately thanks to capitalism and will thus take on jobs where their life is at risk. So hire someone else, and we’ll continue.
When you do start making money and getting good performance reviews, you’ll gain access to more Flat Eye-produced products to line your store with. They’re a next-level tech company, so they’re also developing products like, let’s see, drink dispensers, automated registers, vending machines for standard groceries, toilets that track customer profiles and biometric data, AI-run mini doctor clinics… These are just getting increasingly concerning as they go on. What else is on this list? Memory alteration devices. Yeah, I’m just going to stop reading.
With stuff like this, it’s no surprise to learn that while you deal with management on your in-game desktop and their corporate speak with one ear as they try to convince you to make your clerk work without breaks, in the other ear you’re listening to a company developed AI that has possibly gone rouge and wants to analyze what you’re doing to see if the AI can benefit humanity.
As a management simulator, the game can get as frenetic as it does fun. As you fill your store, you draw in more customers, and with more customers, you will need to restock shelves faster and perform maintenance on modules more often. However, the UI is easy to read, looks fantastic, and the sound design is on point.
Dealing with customers is also mandatory; with generic mobs, you make sure they can use whatever service they’ve shown up to use with haste before they leave out of frustration and impact your performance rating. With premium customers designated as such by the AI, you’ll have your clerk interact with them for short stories that are thematically appropriate and give insight into the world itself. In addition, time stops when you interact with them, so you’re not forced to choose between continuing the plot and having a good time.
For extra fun, corporate are also judging the amount of money you make. Because, of course, they are. Your expected revenue is always higher than what you ended the last day with, which carries over to the next. So, when you buy upgrades, it’s best to do so during the middle of your shift when you have surplus funds. Y’know, when you’re already multitasking. Otherwise, you can say goodbye to a good review because the line always has to go up. I, too, love struggling with time management to stay employed.
The chaos here is rivaled only by whatever is going on in management off-screen because they’re shuffling out CEOs at a speed that would make Usain Bolt blush. As you gain ranks and get promotions, you can access documents that inform you of the stuff going on behind the scenes that directly impacts present matters on your end, like the origin story of the AI in your ear that wants to further humanity, seemingly by throwing everything online like a tech-bro (corporate was into it for all the money until it started buying shares in the company) or watching R&D struggle to produce new products like social media platforms strangle their devs for new features that are entirely pointless or UI changes that no one likes.
The lore here is fascinating and also mildly horrifying since it’s based on amounts of fact. After all, what game says, “The themes covered in the game are not pure fiction,” and then gives you a whole bibliography to back it up? One with guts, that’s for sure. If the topics make you too uncomfortable, you can use the content warnings options in the settings to adjust what is portrayed or be warned about what will happen before it does.
Flat Eye is an entertaining management simulator that is easy to play and has a high skill ceiling. But it’s also a highly relevant game making a statement about the logical endpoint of capitalism and the everyday exploitation of the vulnerable as the world itself dies around those who can have the power to fix it but choose not to. If this game ever stops being relevant, we’ll be in a much better place. Aren’t video games cool?
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