Review: Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor
Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is a strange game. Even now I can’t quite work out what it is: a puzzle game, a narrative title, a visual novel, etc. It has elements of each one, but I would say it’s most of all a game about routine. You play as the eponymous Spaceport Janitor, and your job is to get off a planet you’re absolutely tired of. Throughout the game you move through the Spaceport, cleaning garbage to make money. You can also collect and trade various items.
The Spaceport is a remarkably vibrant setting. There are shopkeepers everywhere, people milling about, and all sorts of hustle and bustle. There’s a ton to see and do initially, and it can feel a little overwhelming. This isn’t helped by the fact that the game has no real map system. It does have these colored arrows which help you navigate the spaceport, but those aren’t as helpful. This becomes a real nuisance when the game does tell you to fetch certain items.
The game’s focus is mostly on its story, which is strange, quirky and quite humorous. The world you’re in is an alien one filled with all sorts of oddities, but everything seems so mundane from your perspective. You’re initially cursed by an evil skull an expected to lift the curse, and it’s played off in such a casual, nonchalant way. There’s a ton of creativity in the setting as well. The alien world has a ton of religions, and the religions do end up playing a big role in the space world’s setting.
The game’s main issue, however, is that it’s actually surprisingly tedious. To begin with, seeing the sights of the Spaceport isn’t all that entertaining because the game is really simple visually. In the initial menu before starting the game, I chose between the graphic settings ‘bad’ and ‘worse’. To add insult to injury, the game has a third person movement system which just feels clunky as all hell.
In many ways, the game’s tedium is intended. You’re a janitor, after all, and you pass through your daily routine desperate to emerge from it. You get some money that you need, but you also need to try and save it and sometimes you’ll get randomly robbed. It’s a slow, uphill struggle. But while I can appreciate that the game is meant to help us experience that desperation, I don’t really like it all that much. I found myself playing on to explore the plot and see where it went, but I found myself getting really bored after a short period of time.
Ultimately, I appreciated what Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor was doing, but I didn’t like it very much. I’m all for games that are heavy on narrative, but Diaries doesn’t even manage to be a straightforward walking simulator, instead working in a game element that doesn’t really pan out. It’s a game with some pretty deep ideas about poverty and desperation mixed with some fairly dark humor, but if you’re looking for a more conventional game experience you won’t find it here.
Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor was reviewed using a PC downloadable code of the game provided by Sundae Month. The game was tested by Mazen Abdallah on a PC running Windows 7 Pro, with a 4GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 970 fitted on a 4th Generation Intel i7 4790 3.6Ghz CPU and topped with 8GB of RAM. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Creative setting
• Strange and quirky humor
• Lots to see and explore
• Original concept
• Tedious gameplay
• Lack of a map system
• Visuals are too low-end