Ever been in the office and wanted to just beat the crap out of a co-worker? (You’re a liar if you say no…) Ever wanted to engage in a raging battle for control of your office? You can do that in Office Politics: Backstab, a Whac-a-Mole –style game where you stab co-workers in the back to rack up points.
The premise is fairly simple: after a former co-worker (named “Arnold Chocolate Face…” please, don’t get me started) ascends the ladder of power and starts catering to employees who suck up to him, the office breaks out in a massive struggle for power. Gameplay is simple as well; enemies will pop up from behind desks and it’s your job to tap them when their backs are turned: stab them in the back. Tapping them when they’re facing you will make them react and dole out damage, and each area has its own special villain with a power. These powers range from shrouding the screen in ice, making you tap your way out, to temporarily blinding you, making you vulnerable to attack.
But you also have powers of your own; during the game you can take control of one of seven characters, each with its own special moves. Specials are unlocked by stabbing a certain number of enemies in a row; 10 in a row unlocks the first power, while 20 will give access to the second. Some powers will restore your health bar, while others will allow you to do things like stab enemies who are facing you without penalty. Careful usage of powers helps, particularly on the higher difficulties.
The variance between levels keeps the game fresh, and each boss fight is really unique. One boss would show you a scene with various items that had to be memorized; after the screen blacks out and one item is removed, you have to tap where the missing item was to do damage to the boss. Another boss forces you to shoot arrows at a constantly moving target, requiring precise timing. With four levels of difficulty and up to six stages with each difficulty, there’s plenty to do.
Office Politics: Backstab took a couple of plays to grow on me. There is a bit of inaccuracy to some of the stabbing, and I too frequently feel like I’m being attacked by a target that was supposed to go down. I also would have liked a versus mode of some kind…it’s hard to think about all this inter-office aggression and not actually be able to take any of it out on my friends. But Backstabis still a fun little time-waster with plenty of achievements and hidden easter eggs. The variety in power-ups and levels keeps the game fresh, and (with the exception of that “Chocolate Face” nonsense) is a pretty well-composed way to work out some of that office-based stress.