Game: Need a Packet?
Genre: Simulation | Strategy | Platformer | Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, Mac, PS4)
Developer | Publisher: Sometimes You | Marginal Act
Age Rating: EU 16+ | USA Mature
Price: EU €6,99 | USA $6.99 | UK £6.29
Release Date: July 24th 2020
Lots of thanks to Sometimes You for the review code!
A Day in the Life of a Cashier
Picture this; You awaken for work. Put on your uniform. Ride the bus. Check your phone for distracting messages, news, and videos as you travel to your destination. You spend cash on things. Listen to your boss chastise you every day. Perform all of your cashier duties. Return home. Wash, rinse and repeat. Not the nicest picture.
This monotonous routine simultaneously represents the protagonist’s life plus much of the gameplay in Need a packet? As a cashier, the protagonist interacts with customers in a concise manner. She asks them if they need a packet while scanning products and taking their money. Additional twists are added to this foundation by introducing items that can’t normally scan without looking up a number from charts. Whilst at the same time you need to pay attention to how much cash the customer gave and when required return the correct change.
I forgot to mention that each shift is timed. Yes, an ever present stress-inducing clock is onscreen, counting down when you can leave. How many customers she successfully serves determines her pay hence why the importance of swiftness with equivalent accuracy cannot be understated.
I immensely struggled with being both as quick and correct as possible. I invert numbers normally making that gameplay mechanic quite annoying. Having the charts available all the time didn’t help. In fact, they created opportunities for mistakes!
What about memorizing or writing them down, Shawn? I hear you say. I would rather not talk about it.
Being mainly flustered resulted in messing up the cashier basics like remembering to give change back. Making two mistakes during a shift will effect your daily paycheck and possibly leave you in the negative. That’s the expensive price of failure.
Need a packet? totally reinforced why doing a supermarket cashier job in real life would be difficult for me.
Outside of Work
Furthermore, while traveling via bus, her earned income can be spent on food to heal, chipping in against a terrible garbage crisis, purchasing furniture to occupy the space of her sparsely furnished apartment, or recruit defenders. They are for later in the game, if you survive that long. Food and protesters are the most expensive: enduring at least three days of work to afford either of them!
For instance, after my playthrough of Day 1, my speed and efficiency were enough to net 11 credits (In Easy Mode, 21 credits). Meaning, the protagonist could buy something for her apartment or financially pitch in against a suffocating garbage crisis. The only other option the player has is of course saving for larger purchases towards the aforementioned food and protesters.
Like the minimalist main menu that doesn’t bother having the controls I’m still uncertain concerning the defenders to be honest.
There’s Something Rotten Here (say what)
As the overall condition of the protagonist rots like the multiple landfills being built for the accumulation of garbage, the lines between disturbing imagery and what’s actually real become increasingly blurred.
Here’s where the other half of Need a packet?’s gameplay chiefly resides.
Faces from a previously seen video don’t disappear from sight. They haunt the player during a whole shift. A customer screaming profanities repeatedly during a transaction makes it challenging to process crucial information. Once routine bus rides morph into unsettling nightmare fuel obstacle courses that aren’t point and click in the slightest. They are also capable of taking large chunks from the overhead health bar. When health is depleted, it will be immediately restored with a health pack(et?). But once these run out and the player lacks funds, you die.
There is one strange moment in which a customer leaves some flowers for the protagonist. After not responding she doesn’t take them when her shift concludes. This oddly is never mentioned again. Another tells her that packets, whatever they precisely are will kill you every time their paths cross. Apparently, that’s all he can say. Also clips of news reports, if one can understandably read the small text and are cool with clicking continuously (despite the stories being told themselves) try to infuse a bit of humor into them.
Guess what the first purchase for her apartment is. Go on, take a stab! I’m waiting. Y’all can’t reply back, I realize this. Play along anyways.
Who had a squeaky teddy bear she can interact with? Was it you? Not that I have a problem with anyone owning stuffed animals. This is why I feel it was meant to be a droll decision-making choice. She doesn’t seem to be in the best financial spot and buys that, lol. I mean I did squeak it prior to leaving for work shifts.
Also, playing Need a packet? for extended periods of time is not recommended. The dour tone of the game would benefit from some levity. Hence why this review isn’t solely screenshots from it. My sessions with Need a packet? left me feeling severely downtrodden afterwards. If you have depression, I’d advise avoiding this game altogether.
Discovering a Deeper Appreciation
All in all, I think the existence of Need a packet? demonstrates why I have a fondness for video games which are utilized as a kind of realistic teaching tool simulation with social commentary underneath. The ending for Easy Mode is reaching a manager position. *Feigns celebrating*. If playing as a cashier experiencing a breakdown in a bleak world accompanied by hard to see text alongside inconsistent controls interests you, take a gander at Need a packet?
Verdict: I like it!
Shout-out to all essential workers unable to remain home/forced to work due to their job amidst the persistent global pandemic. Your jobs are seen. You are valid. You are beyond important, don’t think otherwise. You are loved. Please, stay safe. Keep your minds healthy and don’t over exert yourself. Thank you. <3