Working Overtime- Death & Taxes

Hello,

Everyone has heard the “inspirational” quote about how life is nothing more than death and taxes yada, yada, yada. All I know is that every year when it comes tax time, I get juiced by the government for not having health insurance. What a stupid fucking concept. I get penalized for not having something that literally costs an arm and a leg (HA). Anyway, this week I enter the realm of office work as the Grim Reaper and nonchalantly condemn people to death based on some outrageous stipulations and destroy the world (a few times). This week I talk about Death and Taxes!

Death and Taxes, a super deep, 2-D narrative game, designed and published by Placeholder Gameworks, is on Steam and itch.io and retails for $13 bones (ha).

You are the Grim Reaper and you are an office worker. Instead of walking around reaping those whose time has come, you are tied to a desk with the lives of humans summed up very nicely on a piece of paper. The big boss man, Fate, is concerned only with following the rules and explaining to you the purpose of humans. The fate of world is in your hands as you navigate up and above middle management to become the Grim Reaper the world perceives you to be.

Your job is very much deciding who lives and who dies but there is an over arching narrative that, when not paying attention, can go up and over your head and leave you with some heartache when the conclusion comes to its zenith.

Just like every 9-5 job, Grim awakes, gets dressed and gets into the elevator that takes him to his desk. At the desk, identification papers churns out magically and its off to work. There is always a note from Fate or his cat instructing you on how many people must die and further requirements, if any. There is a tiny bit of investigation required as you look at the humans and decide their fate. Sometimes there are tricks, I.E killing the shitty zookeeper allows the animals to escape and kill more people. It may be a feel bad but sometimes death is double-edged sword. Sometimes you can’t avoid a shitty scenario.

Every death has either a positive or negative outcome in the world and it is not very easy to spot during the first play-through. During my first play-through I never took the snow-globe, which ended up being the most integral object to my success at cultivating a world in which the FUCKING human race didn’t die.

Your decisions matter and I’m a fucking idiot.

After playing and finishing the game five times, I came to appreciate its uniqueness. With games like Papers, Please and Animal Inspector, I expected to see Death & Taxes be a carbon copy of those games, which it was not, at all.

Money is a factor in Death & Taxes but it does not do much outside of buying cool trinkets from the skeleton pirates that sells me shit in the basement cave of the office building.

In Papers, Please money was integral mechanic to the game. Money was how you continued playing the game. Money paid the heating bill or allowed your family to eat. There was a reason to follow the rules and report those who were breaking the law because it rewarded you with life saving MONEY. In Death & Taxes, it just buys the snow globe, an eraser, glasses, etc. It has virtually has zero use past buying two items, all the rest if just fun shit to decorate your desk with. Not saying at all that I did not enjoy my skull themed fidget spinner, I loved it.

Honestly, I just wished money did more. I packed that stuff into my desk to never see the light of day.

At the end of the workday, Death & Taxes is a game that on first play-through seems boring and uninspired but when it comes to the end and you are explained your actions and how they influenced the world around you; you see the light and want to play MORE. I spent roughly about an hour and thirty minutes on the first play-through, and then it had turned into the third and the fourth. I ended up playing for about 4-5 hours in total.

The colors and art are nice. It really gives off the atmosphere of a sad, lonely, depressing office building. The fun little elevator music soundtrack is nice, and the voice acting is good enough for me.

There are A LOT of endings to this game and a bunch of actions that influence them. I thought that Death & Taxes was simple until I saw my outcome and I felt uneasy.

I was just being a fucking idiot again.

I like it.

A lot, actually.

I really like the logo.

2 thoughts on “Working Overtime- Death & Taxes

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