If you go back around 15 years and walk down your local high street, you will see an array of random stores. None of them are necessary, yet they all seem packed with people willing to spend money. These consumers move from one shop to another, throwing money down the drain for items they don’t need. As long as they keep spending, the shopkeepers don’t care, and this is the main premise of Rip Them Off.
Developed and published by Lozange Lab, this ruthless business game has you controlling the profit margins of different high streets, aiming to make as much money as possible. You will need to focus on the flow of people, the locations of the shops, but not the goods you sell. These mindless consumers care not about what they buy, they want to spend their money, and you are there to help them achieve this goal.
Rip Them Off is ruthless and heartless.
You begin the game at the bottom of the corporate ladder, you can’t get any lower and the only way is up from here. The members of the board are watching every move you make, and the more money you make them, the higher you’ll climb. You must be ruthless in your endeavours, step on whoever is in your way, and rip off as many people as you can. The board does not care, they simply want you to Rip Them Off.
The game follows an extremely simple premise. The basic map is placed before you, it highlights the pedestrian routes, the position of the shops, and which path will access each store. You are told your cash target, and the number of days you have to earn it. Each of these days has a set amount of people that will spend money, so you mustn’t miss an opportunity.
Each shop has a cost to set up. The cheaper the outlay, the fewer people it can deal with initially and the smaller amount of money it’ll generate. Each can be upgraded to handle more people and to make a larger profit, but this requires an additional outlay of funds. There is also another hurdle to overcome, and that is each consumer will not visit the same type of shop twice! You must plan where to place your outlets to make the most out of each person. Once you have chosen your store, it cannot be changed, so more haste less speed.
Allowing profit to walk away is madness.
Each time a customer misses an opportunity to pay, that is profit you have lost, and that quickly adds up. On many of the complex levels, victory is achieved by fine margins. Allowing your money to walk out the door is unacceptable and you must plan accordingly.
The strategic challenge soon ramps up to become a hectic and fast-paced nightmare. Mostly you are a voyeur to the madness that unfolds before you. You must sit back and see if your plan works out, or if you must restart the stage and try a different approach. It’s a simple strategy title that quickly becomes addictive.
A simple game needs no bells and whistles.
Rip Them Off uses a 2D fixed-screen image that relies heavily on bold shapes and colours. The imagery is basic in design, but is easy to understand what is required of you, and how you can succeed. A clean cut UI keeps the screen clutter free. This helps when many people are walking the roads to the shops like ants to an anthill. The design won’t wow you, but its simplicity will allow you to focus on the many puzzles you face.
The audio has done well to match the tone set by both the graphics and gameplay. An unobtrusive lobby style music creates an odd sense of calm among the hustle and bustle of the shopping action. Fortunately Lozange Lab didn’t lean towards a high-tempo soundtrack, as I believe this would have created a stressful and uncomfortable atmosphere.
Simple gameplay = basic controls.
When you first start this up, you’ll have no idea of what to do. Unfortunately, the tutorial does little to remove this confusion. Your best bet is to experiment for a while and suddenly it’ll click. Once you have this Eureka moment, you’ll wonder how you ever struggled as it’s easy to play. Helped by the simple UI, you’ll spend your time focussing on the high street rather than how to control it.
As a single-player game, it’ll always be limited to how much replay value it offers. A local or online multiplayer aspect would have been interesting. Especially if the mode allowed you to be cutthroat and ruthless to your opponent. This would have been harsh, but it would have epitomised the corporate theme.
What Lozange Lab incorporated instead was a leaderboard that allows you to compare your efforts to other players. This adds a layer of competition, and highlights how ruthless you are. There is also a “Map of the Moment” which proposes a revamped map every 10 days with its own leaderboard, this will increase difficulty and will ensure your interest remains piqued. Multiple objectives during each stage and a challenging achievement list will also keep you coming back for more. At around £8, it proves to be good value for money.
Do you really want to Rip Them Off?
No one likes to be ripped off, and most of us don’t want to be seen as a con man. Yet in the world of business anything goes, just as long as you are making it one more step up the ladder. Rip Them Off is confusing to begin with, but it quickly falls into place and then you’ll be addicted. The challenge is infuriating, fun, and I recommend buying it here! Start at the bottom and work your way up. Step over everyone, after all, the plan is to never look back.