Everything you need to know about Red Accent Studios’ weird & wonderful brain-teaser
Hi everyone! I’m Michael Ren, Senior Producer on Salary Man Escape, and I speak for the whole team when I say we’re ecstatic to be finally launching the game!
It’s been a long year of development, and there were certainly bumpy roads, but ultimately everyone’s put their heart into the project and are proud of what they’ve accomplished. We hope now that our to-be players will have as much fun (and frustration :P) playing Salary Man Escape as we did making it!
Thank you for cancelling your vacation. As a token of gratitude, here is a postcard of the sites you were scheduled to visit. We are also throwing in a nice video we shot during the last off-site management meeting.
Please don’t watch it during work hours.
Developed by the team here at Red Accent Studios, Salary Man Escape is a satirical and edgy physics puzzle game for PlayStation VR where the player must use skill and make tactical decisions to help a disgruntled salaryman escape his life.
Through clever interaction and manipulation of blocks and platforms, players must reorganise an edifice of bricks in order to create a route for the salaryman to reach the exit.
Inspirations & beginnings
We started out with the idea of grabbing things in VR, with special attention paid towards the depth and volume of the 3D space. With this as a basis, our Lead Designer Michael Michael worked on a prototype puzzle game, which we were instantly attached to.
With the theme and graphics, we tried many different concepts that matched the gameplay. Some concepts were having a tiny robot escape a mechanical city, a little spider escaping a furious human, and ’80s electronics gadgets running away from being “retired”.
There was something to love in all these concepts, but ultimately none stood out enough. Then one day, the Lead Artist Yu Jian Wei casually compared the difficulty of the game to the daily grind of a salary man, and that image of a suffering worker just stuck with us. We created some early concepts, and the rest was history.
Designing the puzzles
Our Lead Designer Michael takes a somewhat unorthodox approach to the creation of the levels featured in Salary Man Escape. Instead of thinking of the puzzles as singular entities and designing them individually, he tackles level design by the chapter (up to 13 levels per chapter).
Using the new mechanics each chapter introduces as a design focal point, he starts out by giving players a smooth on-ramp with simple tutorial levels, acclimatizing them for what’s to come.
When players reach the middle levels, they will experience increasingly complex iterations of the same mechanic, as well as mixed levels that incorporate previous mechanics. These provide a satisfying challenge, but shouldn’t stump anyone completely.
It’s the final few levels of each chapter where the difficulty starts to spike, and where Michael really gets to flex his creative muscle. Players will encounter ridiculous puzzles that will boggle all but the most apt puzzlers.
If a player manages to survive all the normal levels and still wants more challenge, then there are the hidden levels. There isn’t much to be said about these except: “One does not simply beat the hidden levels in Salary Man Escape”.
Thus with this design, players will be met with a recurring cycle of “easy at the start, fiendish at the end” as they attempt to progress through the entire game.
In a twisted but poetic way, the ups and downs one experiences during their time with Salary Man Escape perfectly mirrors the same daily ups and downs of our suffering central protagonist – the salary man himself.
- Unique VR perspective: With the freedom of movement in VR, players are provided a perfect 360 degree perspective of the puzzle, which allows for a special 3D puzzling experience
- Physics-dependent puzzling: Solving puzzles in Salary Man Escape is all about leveraging physics properties like weight, balance and force. Each individual playthrough will never behave exactly the same, and so players must expend their creative energies to discover the best solution to a problem.
- Edgy art style, ’80s Japanese soundtrack: The game features a minimalistic, monochromatic visual style, contrasted with a cheerful, classic ’80s Japanese soundtrack, to evoke and symbolize the bleak, yet often humorous existence that is the ‘salary Man’.
- Six chapters, 78 levels: The game features hours of gameplay, with six chapters, 60 basic levels, and 18 PS4-exclusive hidden levels. Each chapter introduces a brand new puzzle mechanic to the mix, making puzzle progression increasingly more complex and difficult.
- Unlock hidden levels and achievements: Unlock hidden levels (which feature special mechanics) by collecting the coins scattered throughout the previous levels, often in off-path locations. Complete all levels to earn special achievements and bragging rights.