Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.
The mid-level corporate manager has long been the butt of jokes about the banality of office work and the mediocrity of the people who aspire to it. David Brent and Michael Scott, the fictional branch managers of paper companies in TV’s “The Office,” aren’t necessarily failures. But in a world where we’re constantly told to reach for the stars, they’re portrayed as small men lording over pitiful kingdoms.
In Middle Manager Of Justice, you’re an unnamed nebbish, a balding forty-something who runs a slightly more important kingdom in the form of a neighborhood superhero business. More corporate drone than Professor X, you prepare your squad of spandex-clad do-gooders not with Danger Rooms or sparring rings, but with step-in-to-my-office-please pep talks and training seminars. Juxtaposing the bloodless milieu of the office with the extraordinary life of super heroes is where Middle Manager Of Justice finds most of its humor. The heroes have a break room where they relax after defeating evil henchmen, and they research Kevlar unitards at their desks. Reaching a new level is celebrated like a corporate job promotion, with a meaningless new title and a cake.
But the biggest joke of Middle Manager Of Justice is on itself. There are crime-fighting segments, but the bulk of the game consists of you assigning heroes to train, rest, and sit at a desk while you passively watch progress bars fill up. In doing so, the game feels a lot like the work it’s parodying—boring, repetitive busywork.