Say No! More is a comedy game with a simple piece of advice: normalize saying “no” to people more often. You play as an intern on their first day at a big corporate office. Almost immediately you and your fellow new hires are teased, threatened with firing for a laugh, and thrown into a sad corner of the office. You then discover a cassette tape player, transporting you to a magical realm where an exasperated fitness instructor teaches you the power to say “no”.
With this power you begin to tear through the office, turning down one request after another with a “no” that throws people to the ground and sends papers flying. The gameplay here plays out like an arcade rail shooter. The intern moves on their own from person to person, and you simply decide if and when you say “no” to them with the press of a button. As the game moves on, you get the ability to tweak the no, hold the button for a more powerful no, and perform actions like laughing to distract and confuse.
This is a game anyone could play, as even the miniscule bits of gameplay depth really don’t factor in too often. That also means that anyone expecting a certain amount of freedom and control should probably steer clear. This is a very simplistic game, where the charm of playing it is in seeing the story play out.
That’s not to say you have no agency though. In fact, one of the most surprising qualities of Say No! More is how confrontations can play out differently if you stay quiet. Each time you walk up to someone, a bar gradually shrinks, indicating how long you have to react to what they’re saying. You could just run through the entire game, spamming “no” before anyone can get a word in—and there are sequences where that is fun to do—but it’s actually worthwhile to listen to each person and find out what they’re asking for.
The on-rails gameplay, chunky visuals, and over-the-top aesthetic feels straight out of a Sega arcade game in the 90s. It’s certainly more cartoonish and less violent than a light gun game like Virtua Cop, but it evokes those silly shooters in many ways. I can’t help thinking of those moments in Virtua Cop 1 or 2, or The House of the Dead, where an unarmed civilian jumps out from behind a cardboard box. Just as those games challenge you to avoid shooting an innocent bystander, Say No! More asks you to listen before blasting someone in the face with a powerful “no”.
While many of the scenarios that play out in this game are ridiculous and played for laughs, it’s surprising how genuine of a statement it makes. The core message here is that saying no to people is an important and powerful tool for navigating the world while maintaining your dignity, especially in the workplace. And just as much, it is important to stop and listen to people before dismissing them.
Say No! More touches on a lot of other important and current topics to varying degrees of success. It makes brief mentions of concepts like forming unions and collective bargaining, work/life balance, and other labor issues. In many cases, the writing shines, explaining how a blend of empathy and self respect could transform workplaces in simple and elegant ways.
That said, while Say No! More deftly navigates many of these topics with grace, it walks right into a wall when arriving at a final statement. It’s a comedy game with bright colors and a hopeful, blue sky aesthetic, but that positivity twists into willful ignorance when the story is forced to address the greedy CEO at the top. A wholesome outlook gets the better of this game, as it suggests that having empathy and understanding for the rich and powerful would somehow help us all work together to solve society’s failings. It’s a ridiculous conclusion in a game that’s otherwise really sharp.
This final idea sits like a stain on an otherwise beautiful canvas. I really like Say No! More up until the ending, and I commend it for walking into challenging topics and not being afraid to be political. But any recommendation I make, especially as a piece of activist art, comes with a big caveat.
Still, if you’ve played any amount of games, you’re probably used to them escalating the action so high that the meaning is lost. That final sequence is Say No! More’s annoying giant monster boss fight. Even the best games have them, and I still think this one has a ton of things to appreciate and enjoy. Plus, you’ve probably never played anything like it.