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Level 22

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Avoiding the sack

Product: Level 22 | Developer: Noego Games | Publisher: Noego Games | Format: iPad | Genre: Stealth | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Level 22 iPad, thumbnail 1
Forget sneaking into a top secret military base. Screw tip-toeing through a hostile medieval city.

There is nothing that compares to the gut-wrenching tension of skulking into work late, and it's about time we had a video game to capture such a delicate operation.

And that's where Level 22 slips in. It's over there, crouching behind the photocopier.

What a way to make a living

You play the part of Gary, your typical unmotivated 20- or 30-something stuck in a soul-crushing nine-to-five job. We've all been there. Unless you're young or rich, in which case we hate you.

Having woken up late thanks to a hangover - and not for the first time - there's the very real chance that you'll be given the heave-ho by your dictatorial boss.

That's the cue for a stealthy floor-by-floor ascension through the levels of your drab office block in a bid to make it to your workstation as if nothing had happened.

Get spotted by any of your incredibly hostile colleagues, or one of the super-vigilant security guards, and it's off to the job centre for you.

Office hijinks

Executing this master plan is very simple, really. You can scroll freely around each top-down office floor with your finger. Tap on a location to send Gary trotting to that point.

As long as you stay out of the vision cone of your colleagues, who each follow their own observable working pattern, you'll be okay. You can even hide in cabinets or vents where available, though your peripheral vision will be drastically obscured.

The way to the next staircase is never completely clear, of course. There are often keycards to collect, and you'll also need to grab specific items to help get you past those workers who aren't so easily duped.

You can go all Metal Gear and hide under a cardboard box, or flick an eraser at a colleague's head to distract its attention. You can even clobber your workmate around the head with a large book, which seems to be crossing the line a little.

Security guards need to be distracted with food, while there's even the odd opportunity to deploy laxative tablets. All's fair in love and corporate deception.

Increasing productivity

There's a really joyous tone to Level 22, which makes it a pleasure to play through its levels. Even when the gags and pop culture references fall a little flat (as they frequently do), it's rarely less than entertaining.

Where it does stretch your patience is in the slightly woolly, unreliable controls. When progress often involves very specific timing and positioning - particularly after the first world - Level 22's lack of precision can be irritating.

It's not always easy to slide up to a vending machine, for some reason. As this is necessary to uncover hidden safes and vents, that's a bit of a problem.

It's also especially annoying when you find yourself sent back to the beginning of a particularly tricky section to do it all over again. This can be a very exacting game at times.

Still, the idea of sneaking through a convincingly soulless yet always colourful (the block-headed pixel-art graphics are a treat) office retains its appeal throughout. It's certainly worth stealing a few hours away from your working day to play it.
Level 22
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 8 October 2013
A well-formed stealth game with a novel everyday setting, Level 22 is frequently frustrating but rarely dull
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