Reviews - Updated on April 8, 2022

Relevant for platform: NSW

Catching ghosts is back in vogue: a new Ghostbusters movie is coming out next year, this year we got a remaster of the old Ghostbusters: The Video Game and the charming Luigi’s Mansion 3. So independent developers from the Scottish studio Ant Workshop decided to join the celebration. In their Dead End Job, we play as a paranormal expert who devotes every working day to catching ghosts.

It’s OK

In the universe of the game, people cannot stand up for themselves at all – wherever the hero goes, ghosts are holding someone hostage. Offices, parks, restaurants – there is always at least one person in trouble. Saving the poor fellows is not so difficult – you just need to clear the rooms in which they are located, and after that you can turn around and enter the elevator, thereby completing the next level and getting honestly earned money.

Locations are randomly generated, but these are always rooms connected to each other, the exits from which are marked on the mini-map. Ghosts are found at every turn – as soon as you enter the room, circles appear on the floor (or ground), and after a couple of seconds ghosts crawl out of them. The character is armed with a plasma cannon, with which he shoots at enemies, and then he uses a vacuum cleaner and collects stunned opponents. When everyone can be defeated, the game reports a complete cleaning of the room.

That’s the whole point of Dead End Job – you take an order, go somewhere, suck in ghosts, save people and end the work day. The gameplay does not change in any way, except that there are more enemies, bosses with a bunch of “lives” come across among them, ghosts turn out to be more aggressive, and you have only three hearts left – after the third wound, the hero dies. You notice monotony very quickly, and it becomes boring to run through the levels for a long time. Yes, and going through them intermittently, devoting an hour a day to the game, is also dreary.

No cellars and no flies

Dead End Job tries to partially copy the gameplay of The Binding of Isaac, but does not punish the player much for failures. Therefore, in case of death, here you do not lose all the progress you have earned, but only all the improvements you have received. The character becomes the same as it was at the very beginning of the passage, but can still visit the unlocked zones, although it will be more difficult for him to emerge victorious from there than with all the upgrades. So it is advisable not to climb right back, but to pump at least a little at the starting locations.Dead End Job game review

The translation into Russian turned out to be funny – even the names of the ghosts were adapted.

Improvements are issued for capturing ghosts, after defeating several dozen enemies, three bonuses are offered to choose from. In all cases, I made the decision in a split second – most upgrades were useless. But the rest of the bonuses really turned out to be cool: here and the plasma cannon shells bouncing off the walls, and faster shooting, and an improved vacuum cleaner that draws in more objects. The changes were noticeable immediately, these are not some minor modifications.

At the same time, this did not affect the gameplay as much as we would like. Yes, the gun overheated more slowly, and it was possible to shoot non-stop for longer – but the gameplay remained the same. Yes, the damage dealt by the character increased – but he still had to clear the rooms from ghosts. They tried to add variety with the help of disposable items like bombs that instantly destroy ghosts, and all sorts of funny gadgets (one of them makes ghosts dance within a small ring), but first you need to find them. But first-aid kits (or rather, food) that restore health are issued quite often.

These things either just lie on the ground, or fall out of destroyed objects. All sorts of tables, cabinets, printers and much more are damaged when your projectiles hit, and some decor elements can even explode and damage both the character and the ghosts. Sometimes money falls out of the destroyed objects, but if at first you try to destroy everything for the sake of extra bills, then soon you stop wasting time on it – this process is too boring, it is better to collect what has already fallen to the ground in the process of shooting with opponents.

Yes, and there is no sense in money here – with their help you simply unlock new locations, but you cannot purchase anything. There are no new types of weapons, no skins that would be useless, but at least somehow dilute the routine – there is only a gallery of sketches. But the reference book looks interesting, resembling a kind of “Pokedex” – all the captured ghosts are recorded in a special album, where you can read their descriptions and see the number of defeated individuals.

Dead End Job game review

The number of people in need of rescue is indicated next to the mini-map, but their exact location cannot be known in advance.

Found items are also recorded there, but it is not indicated what exactly they do. If everything is clear with food, then it is not so easy to understand some things. Some speed up the hero, some instantly give him a large amount of money, but what all sorts of bronze medals, keys and other rubbish do, it will not be possible to figure it out right away. Although in this sense, Dead End Job again resembles The Binding of Isaac, so this cannot be called a serious drawback. True, in “Isaac” the gameplay was much more interesting and exciting, and therefore such a design decision did not raise questions.

One disorder

Attempts by developers to joke, too, cannot be called anything more than just attempts. In between races, the player is shown short videos with the participation of characters – either the main character comes to his boss, or communicates with work colleagues. Not only does the switching of replicas occur crookedly and the game either does not respond to pressing, or removes the “clouds” with replicas half a second after their appearance, but also jokes do not cause any emotions. And the visual style, which seems to be inspired by the animated series Ren and Stimpy, is simply unpleasant – the characters are ugly and overly caricatured.

Many unsuccessful games are saved by the cooperative mode, and it is present here, albeit only locally. But the second player does almost nothing. Instead of helping his comrade, he floods the floor with a slow-moving muck … on which almost no one walks, since the ghosts are mostly flying. The companion cannot inflict damage on enemies, pick up and use items either – in general, he provides moral support rather than simplifies the process. If they were allowed to run together and shoot opponents twice as fast, the game would not be the worst entertainment for a couple of evenings, but alas.

In general, Dead End Job sometimes resembles not a console game, but a mobile one. It is difficult to play it for a long time, but spending half an hour clearing a couple of floors is just right. The controls are very simple, there is even auto-aim with auto-fire when tilting the right stick (an absolute nightmare for owners of “drifting” “joycons” on the Switch, given the mechanics of overheating), although it does not always work correctly – very often the character shoots past and prefers to focus on walls and not on ghosts. I tested it on a completely new gamepad – the problem remained even with it.

All ghosts are different – some shoot, others often move, others have special tricks.

***

Many have tried to repeat the success of The Binding of Isaac, but this is extremely difficult to achieve. It is unlikely that the creators of Dead End Job set themselves such a goal – they simply offered a similar game, but instead of spiders and all evil spirits, they added ghosts here. This did not make it any more fun – there are not enough own ideas here, and the elements copied from the source of inspiration do not work so perfectly. It’s better to go back to Isaac or catch ghosts in Luigi’s Mansion 3, and Dead End Job, although it looks like a mixture of both games, has nothing to catch.

Pros: several unique locations with their enemies; upgrades given out for collecting ghosts affect the gameplay.

Cons: monotonous gameplay that does not receive any development; most of the improvements are completely useless; stupid co-op mode; flat humor; bad visual style.

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