Critical Review: Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor

If there’s one word that can describe the experience of Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor, it would be the word “hopelessness”. I came across this game a while ago on Steam. When I came across this game, I was intrigued by the style the game went in, and the gameplay that was advertised. Though at the time when most reviews were telling you to giving this game a pass, mainly due to a game breaking bug. But I looked past that and waited for the developers to fix this hiccup. And after some time, the big game breaking bug was patched, and most seem to enjoy the game for what it is. While most games nowadays have a straight, linear path, Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor has a very zig-zag, your-goals-are-set-aside-for-others type path. Games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield have end goals with little to no derailment, while this game can go from going forwards and left one day and backwards and right the other. One day you may have 100 credits, the next, only 6, just enough for one piece of food that did nothing. Every day is different; some days the cops may be a bit too money hungry, while others will have the annoyance of rain, making it harder to see the arrows on the ground to get back home. It’s easy to get lost, as everything looks similar. And while it may seem annoying, it’s quite clearly a design choice, and it’s done amazingly well.

For the first three hours of Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor, or Diaries, you will come to find the general plot of the game. It seems simple at first, but after three hours it will feel like nothing has been accomplished. The story follows the Janitor, a “Halensee girl beast” with a “municipally-subsidized trash incineration” job to attend to. While going about the daily grind, you’ll come across a salesperson selling… eyes? These you will These you will have to use to go into a dungeon. In there, you’ll get cursed with a floating skull that will go “BWRA” at you sometimes. And now, with the task of getting rid of the skull, you must find a way to get off this planet and leave for another life. This essentially sets up the main conflict of the first couple of hours the game has to offer. It’s short, simple, easy to understand.

So the conflict of Diaries may be simplistic, but so is visual aspect as well. The art design of Diaries is both eye candy and an eye sore. The beautiful city you reside in is filled with bright reds and oranges, with bits of cool navy and light purple mixed in. The skies have ships flying overhead, giving the already populated world more life. Billboards flashing pale reds and oranges can give those who are seizure sensitive one hell of a time. But it’s not just the world you reside in. The designs of the npcs (non-player character) are creative, with creatures appearing as humanoid figures with unique characteristics, or strange and interesting creatures. The world itself feels vast, and the 2D characters mixed into a 3D world only add to the visual aid. It’s beautiful, yet after a while it’ll become boring; you get used to the colors and npcs, and it all becomes a blur almost. It makes the world seem grand at first, but over time the aw of your surroundings will be smudged out and replaced with how the Janitor sees the world.

Speaking of the world you reside in, this game also contains a lively amount of audio. The sound design of Diaries does nothing but add to the already grand spectacle of this game. While walking the streets, you will come across sounds of other npcs near by, only adding to the fact that everything around you is alive and working to live. Ships will pass by overhead, “party cars” will pass by with those on-board having fun, while you pick up trash. And the soundtrack? The soundtrack’s brilliant. It only makes the days seem shorter than they already are, and I love that. The songs that play on Theday is enough of an explanation honestly.

But while everything else can be as well made to the extent that it already is, the whole yes or no to any game ultimately lies upon the gameplay. The gameplay of Diaries is what makes the game really. In a third-person point of view, you walk around collecting, burning, mostly burning trash and vomit to earn any amount of credits for the next day. Some days you may find loads of trash and gain 80 MC one day, and then the next only find 5-10 pieces of trash and get only 30 MC. Luck is a huge part of this game. Also, food. Each day you can only incinerate a certain amount of items; however, your incinerator will soon run out of power. To recharge, you need to sleep, and you can’t sleep if you’re hungry. And if you can’t sleep, then you can’t get your pay. If you don’t get your pay, then you can’t pay for food. Do you see where this is going? Thankfully, there’s no soft blocking or halting of progress in the game, as you can eat spoiled food left on the ground. Fun, right? Also, you need to spend money on genderbending your gender, because after awhile, your world will get… interesting. There’s more, but this is what you’ll see in the first few hours of the game or maybe even more.

Now, the price tag. The normal price of Diaries is $9.99 or $10. However, on sale it usually goes for $7.49 or simply $7.50. It’s not a bad price; however, the majority of buyers may find this price to be fairly high or expensive, as this game is definitely not for everyone, as shown by its specific taste in players.

If there’s anything I could say negatively about the game, it would be a few minor “glitches/bugs”. Sometimes, some non-useful npcs will walk into walls or will bunch up at times. While it’s nothing game breaking, it is something that can distract from the experience. Also, while I really enjoy the music in Diaries, it does have a tendency in making one ear have a good time.

Yet overall, Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is a beautiful representation of the word “hopelessness”. The npcs, the world around you, and the music all combine to make a lively world, but you feel so hopeless once the gameplay slaps you across the face, and that’s what makes it brilliant. Handholding is nonexistent, and it’s up to you to decide what is to become for the Janitor. It’s a game about working a mindless, boring task, while everyone else seems to be having fun, and that’s what makes Diaries so unique.

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Jacob Christensen

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