I want to cut right to the chase and say that Flat Eye is one of the most incredible cyberpunk games I’ve ever played. Now that I’ve said that, let me explain: Flat Eye is a management simulator that puts you in control of a gas station – the titular Flat Eye – which is under the umbrella of tech giant Eye Life. That’s right: a cyberpunk management sim where you’ll run a gas station, right down to daily tasks like repairing GeoPumps and refilling shelves and vending machines. Cyberpunk 2077, this is not.
And you’re at the helm of everything as the manager keeping up with employee satisfaction, customer retention, and upgrading the store with new technology, hopefully pleasing Eye Life with the progress you make under their ever watchful eye.
Management is the bulk of the gameplay in this title. It comes in two forms: remote and on the floor. Remote management happens from the laptop screen. As you play through the days and earn stars for a job well done, more apps will become available to you, such as a chat app that puts you in contact with other managers and supervisors and a tarot app that allows you to pick three cards each day that give you tasks to complete. You can also observe the happenings of your Flat Eye location with a screen in the bottom-right corner, receive emails and memos outlining product releases and information from Eye Life, and keep track of premium customers that visit your location.
At first, you probably won’t spend a ton of time on this part of the gameplay; it becomes more intriguing after you’ve spent some time with it and can start using the chat logs and emails to really piece things together.
The other part is on the floor management. This is where you’ll have your employee carry out tasks and where you will spend a lot of time upgrading the station and speaking with your premium customers. By analyzing your customers’ satisfaction and requests, you’ll be able to figure out what new items or upgrades you need. However, as you upgrade, things will require more electrical power, and you’ll also have to build generators around your station. You only get so many spots to build these geothermal pumps, so make sure to choose wisely as you build.
Of course, the management of daily tasks plays like most other management simulators. You tell your employee to fix machines (before they have a high risk of injury during repair!) and refill shelves and vending machines. You make them take breaks by getting snacks or to enjoy an entertainment machine to keep their happiness level high. You’ll also manage your tech tree in this section, which allows you to unlock new machines to keep your customers happy and progress the story.
But the really fun part of this is talking with the premium customers. These are the customers that you need to remember; they ask you for help with their problems and ask you to opine on the state of the world. They’re artists, activists, hackers, and everything in between. As you interact with these customers, you’re introduced to the second portion of the gameplay: decision-making.
During talks, you’ll be able to choose dialogue options that affect your relationship with these customers. You can also let your employee choose for you; however, this will give you less control over the outcome, and if you aren’t careful, you might find yourself in hot water. Flat Eye has a number of endings, so the way you play both the management portions and the decision-making portions will change your outcome.
However, the excellence of Flat Eye really lies in its plot. The game is all about the way technological innovation impacts society, and the kind of future this rapid upgrading brings. It delves into topics like personal privacy, environmental deterioration, and reliance on technology in a way that doesn’t feel too hamfisted, and this is because of the diversity of thought it brings to it. Each character you meet has their own relationship with technology and big brother-esque tech giant Eye Life.
The state of the world isn’t spoonfed to you through a dark, gritty setting. The world of Flat Eye is rather bright and somewhat inviting, and things are given to you in pieces. Discussions of natural disasters, riots, and privacy breaches are had with characters who may or may not frame them in a negative way.
It’s a rather unique take on the cyberpunk genre; this isn’t a distant future. Instead, it’s one not far from our present that is inspired by tales and happenings of our own world. In fact, you can even read the articles that inspired the events of the game on Flat Eye’s website.
Flat Eye is an incredible cyberpunk game, not because it aligns with other recent cyberpunk titles, but because it doesn’t. The mix of a heavy plot full of critiques on technology with management sim gameplay is something that most wouldn’t see going together, but works perfectly because you aren’t playing as a grand hero or a special vigilante. You’re just a manager in a position anyone could be in, in a world that feels real and not so distant. This is a thoughtful and interesting game that doesn’t skimp on plot or gameplay, and it truly redefines what a cyberpunk game could look and feel like.