The cubicle farm is not a happy place to be. Dehumanizing, aggravating, and filled with people who thrive in a corporate culture, it’s an endless purgatory that pays just enough to justify inflicting another day’s pointless grind on oneself as the lost time eventually turns into wasted years. All the busywork tends to be in service of something, however, and in Tom’s case it’s to expedite the horrible experiments in the depths of the office tower’s cellar. After a test goes wrong, as they inevitably do, the entire building is sucked into Hell and the demons make short work of the cubicle dwellers within. Tom, however, gets lucky, and a demon with an unspecified agenda replaces his lost left arm with a giant spikey purple replacement and sets him loose against the hordes.
Tom vs The Armies of Hell is a Diablo-style arcade/RPG starring an unlikely hero who’s just trying to get through another day at the Questionable Technologies office. That this day is filled with demonic hordes attempting to rip him limb from limb makes it only slightly worse than normal, but with enough guns, ammo, demonic transformations, and a mean left hook, Tom might just survive to punch the clock again. More likely he’ll get annihilated, because the ultra-early pre-alpha is more focused on getting the gameplay working than balancing its pair of levels, but that doesn’t prevent its potential from shining through.
The gameplay is basically Diablo-lite, with only a handful of RPG options but plenty of demon-killing action. Loot drops enable you to upgrade guns, adding features like heavier damage, an extra bullet to the spread of the shotgun, splash damage to the plasma cannon, and even super-upgrades that change the nature of the gun entirely. Upgrade points can be reassigned at any time, so spending valuable points on the initial pea-shooter isn’t wasting a resource you’ll be wishing you’d have saved for later. There’s a number of guns already in the current build with multiple stats to upgrade and two super-variations apiece, offering plenty of ways to cut through the demon hordes and room to experiment in coming up with a favorite loadout. The random nature of the loot drops makes it hard to stay stocked with ammo at the moment, but again, balance in the pre-alpha is off and this will change later. The action feels good, though, and if I can just remember the dodge roll is there I might even be able to get better use out of melee attacks and waste less ammo. For an office drone, Tom is surprisingly nimble if you remember to use all his capabilities.
Tom vs The Armies of Hell went live on Kickstarter this Thursday, and it’s the second attempt at getting funding. It’s been almost a year since the first go-round was canceled but development has been moving along steadily ever since, and now it just needs a final push to wrap up the details. In that year there have been plenty of changes, such as adding procedural elements to provide variation to the pre-built encounters, challenge levels for extra loot, a new game plus mode, and other options that have refined the gameplay and given Tom vs The Armies of Hell a clearer identity as its evolved into its current state. There’s a lot of potential in the game in its current form, and it helps that the office-life satire is actually funny. Tom vs The Armies of Hell has all the makings of a fun and humorous arcade-style monster killin’ trek through Hells both corporate and demonic, and with a bit of Kickstarter luck shouldn’t have too much trouble reaching its potential.