Time to start searching those want ads
Gary is a bit of a lout. In this economy, a lot of people do whatever they can to keep their jobs, and that’s not exactly untrue of Gary. See, Gary likes to party, and party he did last night, out on the town and drunk all the while. This has led Gary to oversleep, and now he’s late for work.
This might be forgivable, except this does not seem to be the first time Gary has let temptation get in the way of doing an honest day’s work. As a result, he now stands to be fired if he is caught coming in late (his boss even has a wanted poster of Gary on his desk). So now in LEVEL 22, Gary is doing whatever he can to keep his job: In this case, engaging in covert stealth operations to reach his desk on the 22nd floor of his office building.
Given that he’s traversing the entire 22 levels by stairs and sneaking around to avoid being caught all the while, one would suspect he wouldn’t reach his destination until it’s time to punch out anyway, but we digress. This is the task at hand, and fortunately, you’re not alone.
Gary’s friend, Marty, is an expert at this sort of thing. Incidentally, he also no longer works at this place of employ, though he says he got out of there. Whether he was really helped out remains a mystery, but in any case, he offers helpful tips to Gary along the way, which leads to incorporating a number of your surroundings: Hiding your face behind newspapers, crawling into closets, trunks, and vents, and using donuts to bait security guards.
A greater enemy than any fellow employee or security guard, though, is the game’s controls. Every second counts as you bob, duck, and weave your way around everyone’s field of vision as they fall asleep at their desk or turn their backs to Xerox something. But though the controls are simple in theory – touch a spot to move Gary to it, and if a button appears, touch that to activate a context-sensitive action – they tend to be a bit too precise to be used reliably, as you scramble to get Gary moving, only to have nothing happen because you weren’t touching just the right spot.
Similarly, Gary might go somewhere else that you don’t want him to, putting you at risk. Fortunately, we didn’t have any troubles when it came to dragging to move the camera along, and the game didn’t seem to confuse the actions of moving the camera and moving Gary. That said, there are times when you’ll have to cover a lot of ground, but you’re only shown a tiny bit at a time, which can be a little irritating to say the least.
Dodging the enemies/fellow employees can be a point of frustration as well, as again, the game can be a bit too precise in some regards. As we had to move past one employee for the umpteenth time, we were a smidge too close to the employee’s field of view, and there really wasn’t much room to position Gary in the first place. You can never quite be sure how they’ll react at any given time, either; while they do follow very routine patterns, moving into position to lay a trap saw one employee turn back to spot us before he normally should have. Another time earlier on, you’re taught that you can avoid detection by moving quickly across their field of view, but that doesn’t always – in fact, perhaps only seldom – work.
On the plus side: the game saves somewhat frequently. On the minus: not quite frequently enough; and having to replay the same small area over and over quickly wears out its welcome.
Overall, LEVEL 22 has some neat ideas and is an overall fun and refreshingly light-hearted concept (though perhaps a bit darker when you resort to poisoning people and exposing them to harmful radiation, just to keep your job), but it feels a little big for the iPhone, perhaps. It simply calls for a level of precision that you’re not easily afforded on the device, thus turning a potentially fun and challenging game into an overly-frustrating affair.