Having worked in an office I have had my fair share of dead-end jobs. However, this title is not as its namesake would imply, about a game about a mundane job with little that changes day in and day out. Instead those at Ant Workshop Ltd have taken a more literal approach and made a game about a monster-like character being a Ghostbuster. You play as the aptly named Hector Plasm, whose job is to clear out public places of pesky ghosts. The game is a twin-stick single-screen action shooter that is quite fast-paced. You select from one of the main specific areas and the game randomly generates a map layout where you go room by room uncovering the map on the way to try and achieve the objective, which is usually rescuing civilians from the clutches of the ghouls.
The game looks and feels as though you are playing a late 90’s cartoon, with graphics reminiscent of Ren and Stimpy – grotesque but amusing character designs. When you first start the game, you are treated to what feels like a cartoon theme song, but it is the setup of the story. The partner of Hector Plasm the paranormal pest exterminator has choked on a sandwich and died, and she has come back as a ghost. This confuses Hector as he hunts ghosts, but it is covered after the intro when the characters talk. It cuts to Hector and Beryl talking about what has happened and Beryl, in short, says let’s not talk about plot holes and that Hector must save her soul. But the intro happens so quickly it is very easy to miss a lot of the story. I had to watch the intro video 3 times to find out what the story was actually about.
Regardless of the vague story, you are placed onto a panoramic view of your office with some interactive spots. You hear what sounds like your generic country style instrumental jukebox music in the background which is on a 5-minute loop which gain get old after a while but it’s not too irritating. You have the Job map where you select your mission. The concept gallery whereas you progress you earn tickets which can be used to unlock some of the concept art to see how the game came together. You have the help wanted section where you can see side missions available to earn some extra rewards when carrying out a job. Then there is the handbook which starts of blank but fills up as you carry out jobs. It contains the ghosts you have busted, the items you have found, your performance stats, your achievements and the feedback from the people you have saved.
Now to start playing you need to select a job from the job map, and you see there are 5 districts to choose from, but some are unlocked and will become available as you progress. You only have the business district when you first start the game and so you have to select the first job on offer. When the game loads you in you are faced with the mission of how many civilians you need to save to complete the job. You will be placed in a set room with themed objects of the district you chose and in the business district you find a lot of items you will see in an office like desks, computers, file cabinets and water coolers. Most of these items can be destroyed with your main plasma gun and you will need to do some destruction to find some items which could be hidden within. At the top of the screen you will see a map grid layout of where you can go, and it shows where you have been as well. So, when you go into a room you are greeted with ghosts in pretty much every room. You will hear them coming and you will see a ring appear on the floor where the ghost will appear which you need to avoid.
So, to the main part of the game which is busting the ghosts. You use your proton pack equivalent to fire at and weaken the enemies. Then once their health is gone, they will go into a dizzy state which is when you switch to the hoover weapon and suck up the dazed ghosts and each capture earns you money. The enemies do vary, although not by much, as you go room by room. When you have captured all the ghosts in the room you will get a prompt to say the room has been cleared and you can move on. However, to make things less straight forward your guns have an overheating meter and so constantly firing or using the hoover will cause your gun to overheat and leave you vulnerable. You also have 3 hit points per job and you lose a hit point if you come in contact with a ghost or if you are hit by one of their projectiles. You can, however, find health items to restore a hit point should you lose one.
The items in the game are a mystery so you have to use your memory to remember the best items to collect. The food items are generally obvious and useful to keep a hold of, but you can only hold 2 items at a time, and you can’t drop an item either so be warned. The items can be something that can give you health, hurt an enemy, hurt yourself, unlock a locked area or it seems oddly some items don’t do anything. I found what looks like a tin of food, but this didn’t give me health and instead gave Hector some flatulence which although amusing didn’t seem to help in the game.
So, as you go through the map to find the civilians when you find a room where there is a trapped civilian you will notices the exit doors get covered up so you can’t escape unless you have a specific item to do so. You have to eliminate all the ghosts in the room to free the civilian and the ghosts are usually slightly tougher in these rooms. Once you have busted the ghosts and saved the civilian you can then leave the room. Once all civilians are saved you can go back to the exit point and leave the job or head to the next floor depending on the job size.
All the ghosts you capture, side quests you complete and civilians you save all earn you money and experience. The money is needed for the game end goal of saving your partner Beryl, but it is also used to unlock other job areas on the map to see other themed areas like the park and the museum. The experienced allows you to level up on the job and you get a new license every time you are promoted. With each promotion comes the selection of perks you can choose from to making your gun do more damage or reducing the speed of overheating too many others to help you gain an edge. However, if you do lose all your hit points on a job you do get demoted and you lose all the perks you have gained which is a bit of a bummer.
Dead End Job is fun fast-paced action top-down shooter which tests your reflexes and patience. The story is a bit vague, but the character styles are quite detailed and disgustingly fun to look at. It is quite easy to lose some time into playing through this even though the game doesn’t vary too much. But there are enough different enemy types, items and job perks which keep the game interesting.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.