The brain is weird. All it takes is a little bit of visual, audio, and physical stimulation and for all intents and purposes we can be tricked into believing that we’re in an entirely different place. What’s even weirder is when you combine all of those stimulations into making the brain think it’s somewhere familiar doing things it’s already familiar with, it starts to actually feel real.
In the case of Job Simulator, a funny and whimsical VR game developed by Owlchemy Labs, the places your brain takes you could be anywhere from such exotic places as behind the grill at a restaurant and at a cubicle in a boring office, all the way to under the hood in a car repair shop or even manning the cashier at a convenience store.
It may not sound like much, but taking these seemingly menial tasks, these boring jobs that no one ever dreams of having but everyone knows are necessary to make the world work, and applying a generous dose of humor and personality, is all it takes to turn something mundane into something magical.
In the world of Job Simulator, you take on the role of someone going through a series of simulations that are designed to mimic what it was like for average, ordinary humans to attend and perform their daily duties at one of four different jobs: Auto Mechanic, Gourmet Chef, Store Clerk, and Office Worker. In this world robots have replaced humans, so there is no need for these now-irrelevant careers, which leaves Job Simulator to serve as a portal to the past.
Job Simulator will earn its place as not only a hilarious game to boot up for a quick laugh, but also as one of the best ways to introduce someone to VR for the very first time.
Each scenario is so full of humor and gushing with infectious charm that it’s hard not to simply play through each job all the way from start to finish without stopping. Overall, each experience averages at about an hour in length, especially if you’re like me and like to take a few breaks between tasks to mess things up and cause a ruckus. But a big part of the fun has less to do with how quickly you can tear through each individual occupation, and more to do with how creative you can get with your environment.
For example, my favorite job is probably the Gourmet Chef. One reason is because it is one of the best displays of all of the game’s systems working together in unison, such as the interactivity of picking up and manipulating objects, mixing things together, changing temperatures, and much more. But even more so than that, I love this level because I like seeing how the fish across the room react to the different things that I can toss into their tank.
Each environment has little Easter egg moments like this – such as the basketball hoop that shoots confetti when you make a basket with an object on the office level – so they’re just as fun to poke around in as they are to actually complete. A great feature is that if you want to jump to a specific section of a job, from the main hub area, you can easily start at any section you want without issues.
While I’ve mentioned it before, it deserves mentioning again: Job Simulator may very well be one of the funniest games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. Your instructor is always babbling off to the side or behind you about something and making random side comments that elicit laughter. Above all else, Owlchemy clearly put forth a great deal of effort to make sure that not only does the liquid work correctly, but also that each and every ounce of content is brimming with a unique sense of personality.
Watching other people play Job Simulator for the first time is also a special experience. Since the physics and interactivity do such a wonderful job of recreating each occupation, it’s the type of game that doesn’t require a tutorial at all. All I had to do was hand the controllers over and strap the headset on and the other person could immediately start following instructions.
Need to get an item out of the refrigerator? Open up the door and grab it. Need to grab a wrench or other item that fell on the ground? Walk over or lean over and pick it up. It’s easy to play precisely because of how intuitive and natural everything is. There’s no pesky gamepad separating you from the world you’re viewing. Instead, you’ve got two discrete controllers in your hand that provide you with the motion tracking and haptic feedback necessary to trick your brain into believing you’re actually filling up that slushie for Mr. Robot across the counter.
Thankfully, Job Simulator is the least accurate simulation game I’ve ever played.
Since motion tracking technology is far from perfect, there were still moments of frustration occasionally. Pulling levers seemed to be particularly difficult for the sensors to detect, as I noticed I had to often try several times to get a lever to work properly. Every now and then my hands wouldn’t really work properly or objects would clip into other objects causing some craziness. But luckily the tongue-in-cheek tone makes every bug or minor issue appear as just another quirk of the game rather than a glaring issue.
Once you finish each job, you’re free to pick and choose where to jump back in and play around further. Many of my favorite moments came from when I was replaying levels to goof around, as opposed to when I played them “correctly” the first time around. However, I do wish there was a bit more content in the final package. At least one or two more jobs would have been nice, or a more sandbox-type mode that let me move around the locations and interact with more objects. Ultimately, I just wanted more.
Update: Since release on the HTC Vive, Job Simulator has since been ported to the PlayStation VR (as a best-seller, no less) and the Oculus Rift with Touch. On each of these other platforms, the environment layouts have been slightly altered so as to allow you to reach everything you need with minimal room-scale movement. Tracking is always a bit bothersome on PS VR, with its single front-facing camera, but the game is fully playable and enjoyable. On Oculus Rift with Touch, we recommend one of the experimental 360-degree setups to get the full experience, but two front-facing cameras should allow you to enjoy the majority of the game.
Either way, you’re getting one of VR’s very best games and it’s now available on all three major headsets.
Thankfully, Job Simulator is the least accurate simulation game I’ve ever played. The last thing people want to do is come home from work only to put on a clunky headset to go right back to work again. Fortunately, Job Simulator’s interpretation of various mundane professions is anything but boring. From now until the end of time, I imagine Job Simulator will earn its place as not only a hilarious game to boot up for a quick laugh, but also as one of the best ways to introduce someone to VR for the very first time.
Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.