One day, you’ll make it off that rock.
It isn’t often that I become rather baffled by a game. I’ve played numerous baffling games; I’ve been puzzled and confused by many others. Hell, I’ve even questioned the point of a game or two. None, however, have left me as puzzled as Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor, the indie self-proclaimed ‘anti-adventure’ game by Sundae Month.
Even the phrase ‘anti-adventure game’ leaves me scratching my head. We’ll touch upon all of this in just a moment, and the overall experience probably isn’t as negative as this opening paragraph implies; still, if you’re interested in this title, you most likely fall into one of two categories: knowledgeably curious or accidentally discovered.
The tireless question of what Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is rings doubly loud for this particular game. In Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor, you play as a young, alien woman (an Alaenese girl-beast, to be exact) in her day-to-day life of picking up and incinerating trash on her home spaceport. Again, Sundae Month describes this game as an ‘anti-adventure game’, implying there isn’t much to accomplish outside of cleaning the spaceport. This isn’t entirely true, however, as you quickly discover the entrance to a secret cave. We’ll touch upon this in a moment, but living the day-to-day life of a spaceport janitor in a tough, utopian world is the game’s ultimate premise.
When you boot up Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor, you’re given the choice of selecting a deity. From there, you awaken in your small but cozy apartment, ready for a brand new day of work—cleaning the spaceport of its trash. Once in control of your character, you can discuss or interact with other characters/creatures/items by pressing the E button. Doing so allows you to learn about the world, pick up and incinerate or keep discarded items or trash, buy and/or sell various items, and more.
Spread throughout the world are vendors, guards (some of whom will accost you of your hard earned cash), robots, soothsayers, and more for you to speak with; some will even guide you on your cleaning and escaping quest.
Shortly after booting up the game, you’ll find yourself privy to information regarding a secret dungeon. After exploring the seemingly abandoned shaft, you awaken in your apartment cursed by a floating skull. Said skull accompanies your journey from the moment you explore that cave, and you can choose how to approach life as a spaceport janitor.
I chose to attempt and rid myself of the curse while incinerating trash and following the green arrow that guides you through the game. All of this sounds simple enough, and it is, but only up to a certain point.
The game itself isn’t particularly clear on how to proceed outside of that little arrow. Perhaps it was my own ignorance, but I wandered the game a while, speaking to each character before I learned about the abandoned cave. Plus, the visuals are so wonky that it makes navigating the map a real hassle. Still, the controls are simple (they just involve moving and interacting). It’s the world that creates a difficulty level to overcome. For example, you can collect payments from doing your job from your apartment; at the same time, you could be mugged by guardsmen you thought were sworn to protect you. With your ultimate goal, per se, as escaping, losing money to simple guardsmen could be frustrating.
The premise of the game actually is pretty neat, but I found myself not invested in it for various reasons. My biggest complaint in regards to Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor involves its shoddy visuals. I’m more than sure that Sundae Month chose this specific aesthetic for a reason (and when the game starts up, it asks whether I want to run my visuals in bad or worse mode), but it entirely harms the experience; its mix of 2D and 3D graphics makes it difficult for my eyes to focus, and the odd colorations complicate matters. To put it simply, nothing in this game is visually pleasing.
The soundtrack of Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is fairly forgetful. Smooth space jams and transcendent sci-fi synths pop along with your janitor, but it serves more as filler or background noise than it establishes any atmosphere. For me, a great soundtrack enhances a game; great music can help build a great story. The music within Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor isn’t bad by any means, but doesn’t complement or strengthen the game like it could have. The sound effects, however, were excellent, and when combined with the soundtrack, helped create the sci-fi sounds we’ve come to accept as the norm.
The game itself isn’t particularly lengthy, and I found that my save data erased more than once. For $9.99, however, Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor isn’t overly expensive. But as I say with most games, the enjoyment is in the hands of the beholder. All I can do is share my experienced opinion. If you’re someone who loves to support indie games with unique ideas, Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor should be at the top of your list. There’s enough to enjoy here for fans of indies and unique experiences, especially at its $10 price tag.
In conclusion, my time spent with Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor wasn’t always spectacular, and I often found myself not wanting to continue in my quest to un-curse myself and escape the daily redundancies of being a spaceport janitor.
Some ideas in the game were pretty neat, but the visuals really held back my own experience (on the contrary, some gamers may really enjoy the aesthetics). The soundtrack, too, while being solid in nature, doesn’t do much for the overall experience, leaving Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor to thrive or fail based purely on its concept and gameplay. For me, that wasn’t much; for a fan of an experience like this, it may be worth the gamble.