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There's a lot more beating people to death with a baseball bat in this computer repair shop sim than I expected

 Someone holding a bat as a person approaches them.
Someone holding a bat as a person approaches them.

I never really gave much thought to it, but a computer repair business would be an excellent place to run a criminal enterprise. You're handing your precious PC to a complete stranger to fix it, but who's to say what else they'll do while they have access to your box of electronic goodies? They could snoop through your files, steal your data, secretly install malicious programs, or even replace a nice bit of your hardware with a crummy substitute.

I've already done all of that in the first couple hours of first-person sim Computer Repair Shop, and that's just the tip of the iceberg (the iceberg in this metaphor is crime). For instance, how many people would you guess I've beaten to death with a baseball bat in this computer repair sim? Did you guess four? If you guessed four, you are correct. It's four.

I've beaten four people to death. With a baseball bat. In this computer repair sim.

Hard dive

My tale of violent crime and occasional PC repair begins when I wake up and head to the retail space I'll be managing in… well, I'm not sure what part of the world this is supposed to be, but I'll just call it hell. The corridors of this shopping mall are nearly pitch black and crowded with bags of trash, buzzing flies, and jerkily-animated NPCs with dead eyes and blank expressions.

It turns out my shop is occupied by what the game sometimes refers to as "homeless vagrants" and sometimes as "raiders," so I need to hire a character down the hall named "Steroid Man" to handle it. Steroid Man sells me a baseball bat for $50, but then stalks off to take care of the squatters himself. The raiders immediately beat him to death. (I assume it's to death, as his body hits the floor and vanishes.) At this point I actually stop playing for a minute and make sure I've installed the right game. I thought this was about… fixing computers?

I attempt to deal with the raiders myself, but when I try to swing the bat I instead abruptly place it on the floor. As I'm being punched and kicked to death, I notice the on-screen prompt to use my bat is right-click to attack, but left-click to "build." What the hell kind of action is "build" when you're holding a baseball bat?

After a bit of experimentation, I discover that in this game "build" actually means "place" and that's true no matter what I'm holding in this game: a box, a bat, a cat, a naked lady robot (I'll explain her later). It's a weird word to use instead of "drop" or "put down" and will continue to confuse me for quite some time.

Once I've got my verbs sorted out, I beat the raiders to death with my bat, then "build" my bat in the back room (by which I mean place it on the floor.) I spend the next several minutes sweeping the store and scrubbing the walls of filth and graffiti, before placing (building) my broom against the wall. Having killed three people and swept, it's finally time to begin my career as a computer repair person!

GP... eww

A computer repair shop
A computer repair shop

A man walks in, places (builds?) a PC on a wood pallet, and wordlessly leaves. Thankfully, a sticky note explains the situation with his computer: the guy bought a stolen PC from a thief, but it won't boot. I guess he can't exactly ask for a refund.

After rooting around inside his computer, I solve the mystery: there's no power supply. I order him a new power supply using my tablet, which arrives via drone (suddenly this grubby low-tech world is full of futuristic devices), install it, and go to the post office down the hall to ship it back to him.

My next customer is an emaciated man who chooses to stand in the lobby of my shop the entire time I'm working, which is creepy as hell. He tells me he's a porn addict who has forgotten his password (you could have just told me you forgot your password, dude). I need to get him logged in and clean the PC of viruses and dust and hopefully nothing else.

Being a shady PC repair guy, I have access to a flash drive filled with dubious software like a password cracker, so I stick the drive in his PC, hack his password, and install an antivirus program that finds 300 viruses. I also point a compressed air duster at his computer for an entire action-packed minute, then give the PC back to him. So far, things are going pretty well and I've almost forgotten about the people I brutally bludgeoned a few minutes ago.

A skinny bald man in a computer shop
A skinny bald man in a computer shop

My next few customers are a mix of easy and hard jobs. One customer is a woman in a bikini, because of course, who just needs a CPU repaired. Another guy drops off his computer with a whole list of requests, including overclocking his PC and installing games. Someone else keeps getting a BSOD. Diagnosing and solving some of these problems is kinda fun, though after a few customers the requests quickly begin repeating.

I also get some bad news at the end of the day: apparently while I was in the back room fiddling with passwords and CPUs, someone snuck into my disgusting store and stole one of the computers waiting to be serviced. That's a major defeat for me: not only do I lose out on that paycheck, I actually have to pay hundreds of dollars to the customer whose PC I lost.

I pay a woman for a lap dance but she just does the horse trot from Gangnam Style

The next day I spend a little time exploring the shopping mall to see what else there is to do in this game that is also dubiously tagged "life sim" on Steam. There's a strip club, naturally, where I pay a woman for a lap dance but she just does the horse trot from Gangnam Style. I play blackjack and win a hundred bucks, which I spend on a naked lady robot from a man in a store (his name is "Sellerman," which along with Steroid Man from earlier makes me wonder if Kojima was a consultant on this game).

A computer repair shop
A computer repair shop

I don't know what to do with this robot so I carry it around for a while and eventually just build it (place it) in my store, where it does absolutely nothing. There's a cat that hangs around my shop, and I pick it up but can't do anything with it but put it back down. I also visit a shady guy who sells me a ticket to an in-game simulation of The Backrooms, which is even more boring than wandering around the hallways in Computer Repair Sim.

Back at the shop I deal with the growing stack of broken PCs people are constantly dropping off, performing more or less the same actions as I did yesterday: replacing parts, diagnosing bad sectors on drives, dusting, and hacking passwords. At the end of the day I once again learn a robber stole yet another PC from my shop. My profits are gonna keep plunging unless I find some way to stop this guy.

Case closed

A seedy computer repair shop
A seedy computer repair shop

The next day after some more aimless wandering and blackjack (I lose quite a bit of cash) I walk into the front of my shop and see a shirtless man with a balaclava hunched over a PC. It's the thief! I can't afford to lose another $400 bucks in a day where I've probably only made about $400 bucks.

"Where did I build my bat? Where did I build my bat?" I say to myself, literally, out loud. I dash into the back room, grab my bat from the corner, run back out into the other room, then hit the robber with it. He immediately keels over and vanishes. My fourth kill. Maybe I should be a hitman instead of a computer repair guy. I could definitely take over Steroid Man's territory.

Maybe I should be a hitman instead of a computer repair guy

Instead, I hire a security guard to stand outside my shop, and rather than hitting robbers with a bat he just shoots them on sight. This is about the time I quit playing—something about repairing disgusting PCs in a grubby shop in a filthy mall and hearing the occasional sharp crack of gunfire signifying another PC thief has met his end suddenly feels… gosh, a tad unpleasant. Also, I ran out of money thanks to blackjack and the shockingly high price of murderous security guards.

Nothing about Computer Repair Ship is particularly good, which is a shame because there is the inkling of a decent sim buried deep down in its filthy core. I like diagnosing customers' computer problems, it just needs a lot more variation. I also like the idea of snooping around in someone's personal files, but unlike in this sim, there should actually be some interesting stuff to find. And the nice thing is that if you get the simulation stuff in your simulation game right, you don't have to cram in a bunch of other crap like blackjack, strippers, and naked robots just to keep people interested.