Games that play with physics are often much funnier than games that have actual written jokes. I don’t mean to downplay character-driven, witty writing in games, but the fact of the matter is that a mechanic that makes things explode for no reason will nearly always be funnier than anything a character could say, especially in a medium like video games where players often hear the same dialogue repeated over and over. Paladin Studios’ Good Job is the latest in the “things exploding for no reason” camp of comedy games, and it more than lives up to its title.
Good Job is a short puzzle game that tasks you with performing various tasks around an office building. You’re graded at the end of each level based on the time you take and the amount of property damage you inflict, but the wrinkle is that the property damage grade really doesn’t matter much. You’re welcome to destroy an entire laboratory while cleaning the floor, and you’ll still get a high score so long as you do it quickly.
The puzzle design is engaging, as are the bonus outfits you can find lying around the levels, but physics is the real star of Good Job. Like the similar Human Fall Flat and Totally Reliable Delivery Service, the comedy here comes from the game’s clunky, unpredictable movement. The best moments come when things are sliding, flying, or exploding out of control.
In effect, the game takes place in a cartoon version of reality where hoses are jetpacks, floor buffers are racing machines, and power cords are giant slingshots. Vacuum cleaners? Those are bombs waiting to go off, of course. Sure, you can use any of these objects for their normal purposes, but the fun of the game lies in finding each of their physics-defying secret mechanics.
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Good Job is playable solo, but like many games of its ilk is best experienced with another player. I played with my brother, who shares my affinity for acting like a big idiot and breaking things for no reason. Together, we completed all the rooms’ challenges. Eventually. Usually after destroying just about everything we could.
If the destruction in Good Job were merely random, it would get old quick. Instead, it’s a legitimate way to solve problems. Good Job works as a puzzle game because there are multiple possible solutions to the vast majority of the rooms, and if you’re stuck on something, it’s never a bad idea to just try breaking stuff and seeing what happens. It’s this game’s version of “have you tried turning it off and on again?” Which, frankly, is a feature more puzzle games should share.
Self-imposed rulesets are also fun to experiment with — in one room, my brother saw one of the power cords (remember: giant slingshots) and looked at me. Then he said, “Rule number one: we don’t open doors,” and blasted a copy machine straight through a wall. For such a small game, there are so many different playstyles you could adopt.
Not every puzzle in the game is a winner; certain ones have indestructible elements and only one possible solution, and others, like the ones where you have to guide NPCs with questionable AI to specific destinations, are just kind of irritating. But on the whole, Good Job is a great entry in the microgenre of cooperative physics-based games — everything may go wrong, but everyone will be laughing regardless.