In Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor, you play as an ‘Alaensee Girlbeast’, the Janitor to which the title refers. Initially, you are tasked with traversing the spaceport, picking up junk and incinerating it, in order to get paid.
“I spent the majority of this game not having any idea of what’s actually going on”
The game is very overwhelming when starting out. The sounds of a bustling spaceport, coupled with not knowing what the hell is going on is somewhat amplified by the lack of a map or clear direction as to where to go.
The only objective is to survive each day, giving you the option to monotonously collect trash whilst exploring the maze-like environment, eating questionable snacks and occasionally changing gender. I spent the majority of this game not having any idea of what’s actually going on, and I still don’t feel qualified to explain half of the weird and wonderful things you will find.
“You can’t remember where you’ve been or even know where you are half of the time”
The “tutorial” consists of dipping into a dungeon, with the only prerequisite being to consume an eye, a somewhat menial task considering the eye sales-creature stands but a few feet from the door. With the eye consumed you delve into a completely psychedelic experience, for which your reward is a cursed skull orbiting your head, occasionally growling at you and lowering your luck.
Quest markers are only present when the character is located in the area to which the quest relates, which, given the lack of a map, leaves a lot of frustration finding what exactly you should be doing. And that’s assuming when you ask the person for help, they actually give you a straight answer, because you can’t rely on your quest list for help, giving the most basic instruction as to what to do.
The difficulty of the quests is somewhat amplified by the fact that you can’t remember where you’ve been or even know where you are half of the time, especially when starting out.
“The game was meant to press into the issues of gender identity by giving the protagonist the ability to change her gender on demand, however, I cannot help but feel that this was somewhat of an afterthought when creating this game”
The game was meant to press into the issues of gender identity by giving the protagonist the ability to change her gender on demand, however, I cannot help but feel that this was somewhat of an afterthought when creating this game.
Every so often your screen goes blurry and starts drifting left to right, warning the player that a ‘gender shift’ is required, with the solution being to approach a gender kiosk and simply buy a new gender. No matter what gender you pick, you always ‘feel amazing!’ afterwards, with no discernable gameplay changes taking effect.
It simply feels like a second hunger bar ; you get hungry, you eat, you’re not hungry anymore. Your screen goes blurry, you gender shift, your screen goes back to normal. Rinse and repeat.
“No matter what gender you pick, you always ‘feel amazing!’”
In my opinion, the UI (user interface) is not very polished. The fact that if you pick something to look at in your bag and back out of the menu means that you drop the item infuriates me quite a lot. It is built for playing with a controller, but even with it, it feels clunky at times.
Overall, despite my frustrations and nit-picking, I actually started to enjoy playing once I began to recognise and come to grips with the spaceport. The bustling atmosphere and quirky music mean that you can just wander around aimlessly and not get bored – provided you make a beeline to every pile of trash you see on the ground. As you do this you learn that pretty much everything you find on the floor can be taken to one of the vendors located around the city, and sold for a higher price than you would have got for incinerating (with the exception of vomit, who buys vomit?).
“You can just wander around aimlessly and not get bored – provided you make a beeline to every pile of trash you see on the ground”
Not only this, but the culture embedded into the game is amazing. The environmental artwork is absolutely captivating, which when added to the bustling spaceport life results in a completely immersive feel.
“The environmental artwork is absolutely captivating”
At the end of the day, however, the game has an immensely repetitive value, which grows quite tedious with time. I’m all for a grind-fest, provided I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere, and this game, unfortunately, feels like you’re going nowhere slowly.
It’s fine to work towards gaining something new, but all you gain by losing the skull is a return to the person you were at the start of the game. And that’s provided that you can actually earn enough each day with the ridiculous luck penalty that the skull brings with it.
Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is available to purchase on steam for £6.99.
Anthony ‘Conscience’ Osmaston