For many office workers, the daily grind isn't just something that comes with the job. It's a way of life. Mind-numbing small talk with coworkers, bottomless cups of coffee, and endless sojourns to the copier aren't the most exciting career perks, but they all come with the territory. That's why an honest 9-to-5 isn't for everyone. Neither is Payroll, a "Windows 95-looking office simulation game" brought to life by mock-'90s game design studio Astrojone.
Payroll is best described as Wolfenstein 3D meets Office Space, with textures ripped straight from a surrealistic low-res office building and coworkers who titter away at you with the beeps and boops of an antiquated fax machine. There are no words, no dialogue, and no instructions, save for a personal computer tucked away at your corner cubicle that assigns directives. It's gleefully mind-numbing, especially if you're all too familiar with the ins and outs of office life.
You begin Payroll carrying a box of personal items for your desk, wandering aimlessly until you find the empty cubicle in which you'll be spending so much of your time going forward. You can put it down (read: the box disappears) to grab a cup of joe, use the elevator, or perform one of several other menial tasks within the workplace. From there, the possibilities are practically endless.
Fax that document. Work that projector. Commiserate with that freaky bald coworker who definitely wasn't in that meeting room the last time you checked. As things heat up, you'll be taking floppy disks and jamming them into PCs to fulfill missions for that woman with glasses across the hall. You'll be doing this and more in Payroll, but to what end?
As Astrojone so succinctly puts it, the point of the game is "to figure out the point of the game." Redundant, perhaps, but fair enough. With its jaunty MIDI background tune, hideously rendered motivational posters dotting the walls, and AltaVista web searches on blocky PCs, Payroll is worth taking a bit of your own check to experience. Just make sure the boss doesn't catch you slacking off.