Dead End Job (Switch, Xbox One, PC, Mobile)

Hector Plasam is a ghost hunter, but when his partner turns into a ghost herself, he must earn enough money to bring her back with his ‘Dead End Job.’  It’s a rogue-like twin stick shooter with randomly generated levels and art style and humor that imitates 90s cartoons like Ren and Stimpy.  It’s available to download on most current consoles, PC, and mobile, but reviewed on Switch here.

Each level is a maze of rooms that are different each time you play.  You must rescue a certain number of people and then find the exit.  But along the way are ghosts out to stop you.  Shoot them with your zapper gun which you can fire in any direction.  Once you run down their energy, they’ll have dizzy stars over their heads and you can press a different button to suck them up into your vacuum storage tank.  When you nab enough ghosts, you’ll level up and be able to choose a perk, such as longer times before your gun overheats.  And that’s really all there is to it.

I do like the humor and style of the game, as it’s very nostalgic from my childhood (well, teen years anyway).  I also like the references to Ghostbusters, like the painting of Vigo in the office.  But there are too many problems with this game that kept me from enjoying it.  With only three hits you can take, the game is very hard.  And it’s confusing because when I would die, the game would pronounce me as “Dead” and demote me, but did that mean I lost all my perks?  I’m not sure.  And when I would turn off the game and start later, it looked like I had lost all my progress, but my journal still showed the ghosts I caught and other records, so it felt a bit misleading.  Progression is confusing, too, and you must earn enough money by the end of the calendar to prevent your partner from turning into a spirit permanently.  And finally, there is supposed to be a two player option, I think, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work.  Plus I’m not a big fan of randomly generated levels anyway.  So yeah, I’d pass on this one.

Kid Factor:

Dead End Job is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence.  You shoot ghosts and they get dizzy stars when defeated and you suck them up, but that’s about it.  If you’re OK with your kids watching shows like Rocko’s Modern Life, they’ll be OK here.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, and younger gamers may find it too difficult.

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