(Courtesy of Crows, Crows, Crows & Squanch Games)

Accounting +
Developed by: Crows, Crows, Crows & Squanch Games
Published by: Crows, Crows, Crows & Squanch Games
Available on: PlayStation VR

So, I’m standing in the middle of a woodsy-looking area holding a battery that I plucked from a climate- control machine in one hand and, in my other, the receiver of a corded phone attached to a pole. My attention is divided between my bosses who are yelling at me through the phone telling me that I should kill myself and a tree dwelling creature I see nearby who is cursing at me for invading his sanctuary. Swiveling my head between the phone, the battery, and the irate property owner, I feel a spring of riotous energy that rarely, if ever, subsides for the rest of my playthrough of “Accounting +.” Originally released — minus the plus-sign — for the HTC Vive, “Accounting +” is a VR  game created by William Pugh, Dominik Johann and Justin Roiland. The PlayStation VR version doubles the content of the original making it ideal for a relaxed single-session playthrough.

Pugh, who co-created “The Stanley Parable,”  and Roiland who co-created the Adult Swim animated show “Rick and Morty” and voices the title characters, proved what an excellent creative team they are  with “Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist.” Similar to their previous collaboration, “Accounting +” is a funny game that benefits in no small part from Roiland’s vocal charms.

(Courtesy of Crows, Crows, Crows & Squanch Games)

The game begins with an endearingly patronizing introduction from “Clovis” who introduces the game’s movement and object manipulation systems, neither of which should pose a problem to a novice player.  From the sparse introductory environment you’re whisked to a windowless, cabinet-cluttered office lit by a single ceiling panel of fluorescent light. A ringtone drones throughout the veritable white-collar dungeon until you push a button on a desk to accept an incoming call. On the other end of the line are your overly amped up bosses who welcome you onboard as the new accountant. Clamoring to get you to work, they direct you to find the accounting cartridge which supposedly has the program on it that you need to start finessing the numbers. Naturally enough, it can be found beneath a potted plant. Inserting the cartridge into the appropriate machine on your desk gifts you with a pair of VR goggles.  Placing them on your virtual head triggers a white light and a spirit-lifting crescendo of ambient sound.

Upon being transported to the woodsy-looking area mentioned earlier, it becomes apparent that the accounting program you fired up was mislabeled or malfunctioned or something of the sort. At any rate, your bosses are discombobulated that you’ve stumbled into the wrong VR world. Search around a bit and you’ll find different VR headsets that will teleport you to different realms of a criminal, judicial, and demonic variety where you’ll encounter a hapless gang, the “littlest public defender,” and the King of VR.

(Courtesy of Crows, Crows, Crows & Squanch Games)

“Accounting +” shows what a great vehicle VR can be for situational comedy. At this stage in its evolution (though more powerful wireless headsets are due out soon), VR is particularly good at placing people in small environments where the need for rendering ambulatory movement is minimal since real-world concerns such as spatial limitations and dangling cords are still an issue. Enlivening snug environments with visual gags is one of the better ways to create fulfilling experiences that leverage the young medium’s strengths. Given that, I’m sure that “Accounting +” will be one of the three or four VR games I will gladly push on my friends when they come over.

Christopher Byrd is a Brooklyn-based writer who has been playing video games since the days of the Atari 2600. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Barnes & Noble Review, Al Jazeera America, the Guardian and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Byrd.

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