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Striving for Death
Karoshi: Suicide Salaryman is unique and innovative, but above all its quite morbid. It won’t scar you for life, but I do feel the need to say “you’ve been warned.” If you feel uneasy with simple cartoon blood and the suicide as an objective, maybe this game isn’t for you. If you can look past that however, you’ll find a really original puzzle experience.
Of course given the subject matter, a sense of a humor was obviously at work here. Either that or you can assume the person who developed the game was a very sick and depressed individual. The humorous tutorial dialogue sprinkled throughout the game makes me believe the former to be true. Karoshi is a very real thing in Japan; translated into English, it literally means “death from overwork.” It’s a scary phenomenon that involves people having heart attacks and strokes from too much stress. Despite all of this, the game never takes itself too seriously.
In Karoshi: Suicide Salaryman, the object of the game is to find a way to kill yourself in each of its fifty levels. You’ll do this through means such as impaling, shooting, crush, electrocuting, or maybe a combination of a few. The puzzles are very inventive and as you near the end of the game, they get even more creative, not to mention more difficult. They begin to acknowledge that you’re playing a flash game and by the last stage, the fourth wall is completely and utterly smashed.
The entire concept turns gaming on its head by forcing you to die, not survive. This concept alone could possibly carry mediocre gameplay, but instead the gameplay here is fun and satisfying. Without spoiling anything, the last level is the most counter-intuitive that I’ve ever played.
I usually don’t put a lot of stake into flash game music, as it’s usually just a short midi track that is looped infinitely. While the music in Karoshi: Suicide Salaryman is definitely on a short loop, it’s very enjoyable and suits the tone of the game perfectly. It starts off as a slow, sad melody, but quickly turns to upbeat jazz to remind you not to take things too seriously.
As with most flash games, Karoshi: Suicide Salaryman isn’t very long. Fifty stages sounds like a lot, but most can be figured out in about a minute or so - sometimes a lot less. And once you have all of the puzzles solved, there’s pretty much no incentive to come back. Still, it’s an interesting game and definitely worth a whirl.