The Firm's grey setting and plot clashes with the name of the studio it was developed by: Sunnyside Games.
When you think of anything "sunny," you think of rainbows and blue skies and spring-scented unicorn flatulence. The Firm offers none of these things.
Though not as darkly humourous as Lucas Pope's dystopian hit Papers, Please, The Firm nevertheless carries a similar gene or two.
Both games are ultimately about a schmoe who's trying to do their job without getting chewed to bits by governmental / corporate gears. You laugh, because you'd rather not cry.
The Firm is far faster-paced than Papers, Please, however. Ultimately, the former is a twitch game that's dressed up with impressive pixel art.
The Firm's atmosphere and loving(ly sadistic) graphical details might not be enough to win over some, and others are bound to be disappointed by the shallow gameplay that lies behind the fancy dressing.
But if you give it a chance, you'll find yourself falling in love shortly before you fall out a window.
Wall Street kid
Every new day in The Firm brings in a new stock trader. After setting down his box of belongings and his plant, he sits down at his computer and gets to work. From that point on, it's all up to you.
An endless ream of stocks slowly scrolls up from the bottom of the screen. Green stocks that are going up and red stocks that are going down get swiped to the right, in the "buy" pile. Green stocks that are going down and red stocks that are going down are swiped left, into the "don't buy" pile.
You keep on swiping for as long as possible. Whenever you screw up, you lose any accumulated score multipliers, and your stack jumps a bit.
If the stack hits the top of the screen, you're fired. Your trader avatar flings himself out of the window, where he dies next to an endless line of unmoved traders waiting to take his job.
That's it. The goal of The Firm is to trade stocks for as long as possible without getting fired and subsequently dying.
Sooner or later, and even with the aid of black market power-ups like "vitamins" that slow down time, you're going to screw up and meet the pavement.
Death in 8-bits
Graphics don't make a game, but The Firm's visuals definitely help flesh out the experience. There's the naïve, unspoken hopes of the new traders setting down their plants.
There's the broken windows behind their desk, an ominous reminder of play sessions past. There's the gradually-darkening weather as the stocks begin piling up.
The stock names are also worth a chuckle, including "Actiblizzard Entertainment" and "Beiber Industries," though the game's speed causes you to miss most of them.
Twitch 'til you die
If you don't enjoy twitch games that cause your brain signals and nerves to twist together like a car wreck, The Firm probably won't change your mind.
But for everyone else, a reasonable price gets you a game with no ads, no in-app purchases, a pace that will make you hyperventilate, and a setting that makes you mourn the human condition. Like the man says, "I'd buy that for a dollar."