by Sean Martin
reviewed on PC
HI, HOW CAN I HELP YOU TODAY?
You know, I’m glad I’ve never worked in tech support. It seems like it would be a pretty monotonous job, dealing with the same queries day after day, using the same script to troubleshoot every single problem. And what’s more, if this game is anything to go by, you also have to deal with morally corrupt corporations, and furry cyber-terrorists. A tough job to be sure! But Tech Support: Error Unknown is a game whose entire format is based around putting you in the shoes of such a worker. You politely reply to emails, you play with your desktop background, you listen to music, all while trying to care about the 100th customer that day who didn’t turn their phone off and on again. But Tech Support is a game of deceptive simplicity, and while you feel safe hidden behind your screen, every decision has repercussions.
It’s your first day as a probationary tech support worker at Quasar Telecommunications— it may not be your dream job, but hell, you’re in the rat-race now! Working your way up the rungs will be dependant upon how well you deal with your queries. Tech Support’s entire interface is a desktop, with various applications and widgets — the customer support application consisting of a chat window with a variety of responses and questions. Customer problems are anything from a cracked screen to an incompatible headset, and you’re expected to appropriately respond. With my first few customers, I basically passed their problems on to someone else, because I wanted more time with the web browser and to find a pretty desktop background, but as soon as I (somehow) got promoted, I realized I was now the next one up the line. As you gain promotion and responsibility, new features such as warranties or phone repair are unlocked, making each query slightly more complex to resolve. And all the while, the day’s clock is ticking down… time is money after all.
But there’s a lot more to deal with than just a few disgruntled phone users. Behind Tech Support’s queries, through email and chat, a story is playing out. Early on in the game you receive an email from a mysterious hacker known only as Indigo Fox, accusing Quasar Telecommunications of stealing data from employees and customers. The police, it turns out, are also investigating Quasar, and long-time employees confirm something is off at the company. Before you say anything, yes, it is very Mr. Robot. Players are ultimately given the choice — will you keep your head down, stay true to Quasar, or will you follow Indigo Fox and see how far the rabbit hole goes? I won’t spoil, but If you choose to follow Indigo Fox, it opens up many more interesting avenues of interaction with your customers.
HELL FOR TROUBLESHOOTERS
The true quality of Tech Support lies in the way it uses multi-tasking. It’s a play-kind that I love in games, but is rarely used to its full potential — and I’m not talking about micro-management, I’m talking about a player trying to complete two often distinctly opposing tasks at the same time. Think of that section in What Remains of Edith Finch, where you have to chop the heads off fish while also daydreaming. In Tech Support it would be extremely easy to just be tech support, answering queries and gaining promotions, and it’s really tempting to do so. Troubleshooting is an art-form and every time you resolve a query, your bank balance shoots up just enough to incentivise. There’s nothing to say that’s the wrong way to play, but if you did, you would miss the narrative unfolding in the background. But engaging with that narrative is actually quite tough and stressful, as tasks and queries pile up, and time always seems to be against you.
Sure Tech Support can be a little silly at times — whether that’s the customer’s overzealous praise, or the somewhat un-intuitive support application. There are times when a customer will say their screen isn’t working, so you tell them to replace it, and they say it isn’t relevant. Or when you say yes, then ask a customer for their email address, and they get angry saying you’re overwhelming them. There is a slight underlying frustration in Tech Support — an inability to articulate exactly what you want to say. But a part of me feels like it perhaps adds to the experience. There is an overall feeling of being trapped, whether that’s in the endless cycle of query and response, or in the narrative. It plays on the fact that Tech Support is both a permadeath game and one that relies heavily on decision-making and branching narrative paths. On the whole I’m impressed by how much the game accomplishes using comparatively little, building what amounts to, a fairly full-on gaming experience. In many ways, Tech Support could be a hell metaphor for troubleshooters.
Immersive experience, tough in a good way, TutoriOwl
A little silly at points, which can compromise the narrative, chat application can sometimes be un-intuitive