Video games have the ability to let players live out the power fantasies they’ve always dreamed of. Sometimes that means ruling over your own city, sometimes that means slaying an entire army of demons with a single shotgun. But for a lot of us, especially those who have had annoying, dead-end jobs, sometimes the simplest and best power fantasy can come from just being able to deal with an annoying jerk. And Studio Fizbin has boiled all of that down to its simplest form with Say No! More, a game all about saying “No!” to demanding bosses and annoying co-workers. It sounds satisfying, but does the final product deliver when it comes to letting you act out this fantasy in the best way possible?
Say No! More sees you playing as a rather meek individual at first, and one that’s beginning their first day as a new intern at a major corporation. It’s a chipper place, one that encourages all of their employees to say “Yes!” to anything if they want to get ahead. Unfortunately, this leads to our player become an extreme doormat at the worst possible time, as their supervisor demands your lunchbox, containing a specialized lunch created by your best friend and roommate. But when all seems its darkest, the discovery of a Walkman and a motivational tape featuring a muscular figure known as Coach teaches our protagonist the power of saying “No!”…a rather devastating power, it seems. And thus begins a journey to get back the lunchbox, potentially changing the workplace in the process.
As a result of your newfound confidence, Say No! More sees your character automatically running through various work areas, being confronted with people asking you to do tedious requests, bug you with various stories, and more. And by pressing a button, you let out a “NO!” and literally blow them away, occasionally weakening them first by performing an action such as laughing, or having to charge up your “NO!” first. Sadly that’s pretty much it as far as gameplay goes. Say No! More may have a unique concept, but it doesn’t actually translate into the deepest or most game, never evolving beyond the core mechanics (some have said the game resembles a rail shooter, but even those at least require aiming). During certain chapters, Coach will teach you new ways to say no, like a heated no, cold no or lazy no, and different ways to weaken them, like with fake nods or sarcastic claps…but it’s hard to tell if these new techniques actually do anything. You would think the logical approach would be that certain enemies can only be brought down in certain ways, but by the end, switching between any of your different styles doesn’t seem to matter one bit, outside of scripted moments. It may as well be a one-button game and it’s kind of a disappointment.
Speaking of wasted potential? The ability to not say no. There will indeed be certain co-workers who appear who are more sympathetic, or have more goofier, harmless activities, like engaging in a staring contest or wanting someone to try out the game that they’re developing. In these cases, you can just do the polite thing and wait until they’re done talking. So this sets up a unique case where you have to wait and decide whether or not the current person has something to actually say…except the game telegraphs what every one of these cases is. Quite literally, as the dialogue box turns pink during these moments. There are only a couple of twists on this formula, and even then, they really don’t appear to have any impact on the plot.
So Say No! More isn’t exactly putting up much of a fight (especially since the time limits to respond are generous) and the game only lasts less than two hours. It may sound like this is the part where we basically condemn it, but there’s a reason to check it all out, and that would be its writing. Much like Going Under, the satire of modern workplaces is spot-on, with the emphasis here being on the constant positive attitude that corporations try to instill in their workers, contrasted with the more anti-worker tactics that go on behind the scenes. And yet without going into spoilers, there’s still room for more dramatic moments as well, even managing to create a sympathetic antagonist. Plus there’s a lot that perfectly tackles workplace etiquette, especially when it comes to discovering how hard it can be to react or say “no” at times, as seen with the aforementioned options to decline a “No!” blast.
The real meat and potatoes here, though, comes from the sense of humor. There’s the absurdity of the situation, of course, as you basically wind up with vending machine, office chairs and more bits of scenery scattered about everywhere as you wreck entire rooms with your words all in pursuit of your lunchbox. And as we mentioned back in our preview, everyone’s reactions to your new attitude are priceless. The mundane talks and more are given nice, comical twists, but it’s the delivery that sells them all, thanks to perfectly-exaggerated voice acting. Pretty much every character you comes across, even the minor ones, will lead you to a funny moment (especially when you get into weird potential cults and more), and that makes for one enjoyable adventure.
The kicker on top for Say No! More is its low-poly art style, perfectly mimicking fifth-generation video games. The deliberately stiff animations, over-the-top facial expressions on top of blocky faces and the varied use of bright colors all perfectly contribute to the charm. As the cherry on top, you even get the option to customize your character, with a surprisingly robust range of options that allow you to look as goofy as possible. It does feel like a lot of work for a rather short and simple game, but it’s still a welcome touch.
Say No! More is an odd little game that’s worth checking out, but only for its sharp satire, humorous moments and quirky cast of characters. When it comes to delivering an actual game, though, it falls flat, especially when it tries to create an illusion of any depth. Still, the writing alone, combined with its unique style, make this into a bizarre workplace tale you may want to hear, especially if you’re all too familiar with the awkwardness of the daily grind. Overall, maybe it doesn’t deserve the most enthusiastic “Yes!” but you shouldn’t say “No!” to this game either.