Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is an anti-adventure game with rpg elements from developers Sundae Month. You take the role of a janitor that his job is to collect as much trash as possible from the spaceport while trying to make ends meet. But our janitor always looks to the sky, dreaming to one day leave this planet.
The story is pretty simple and it works with the rest of the gameplay. One day our janitor enters the dangerous dungeons and comes out of them followed by a curse and a scull. Now the rpg element comes to play, as we the players will try to lift the curse following three side quests to find and complete a tablet.
The main part of the game is as the title of the game suggests. You start your day praying to your goddess for luck. You go out to the spaceport and begin work. You will find all kinds of junk on the ground that you can inspect, read their descriptions and decide if you want to keep them or burn them. The decision actually matters because if you burn them, at the beginning of the next day you get paid for doing your work while if you keep them, you might find a vendor that needs them and you’ll be able to trade them for a bit more credits.
The fact is that in the game it’s difficult to acquire money. You will strugle every day to burn stuff in order to be able to buy food, which is expensive. Sometimes you will feel weird and the screen changes accordingly. In that moment you will have to buy gender pills in order to change your gender and lose the negative effects. So factor that too in your overall expenses.
Graphically, Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor has a low-fi art style in a 3d world but with caracters that look like cardboard cuts. Think something like the early seasons of South Park. Personally I found that style a bit tiring to my eyes and after some playtime my head would hurt. The music that follows your day is pretty interesting, it is quirky and weird, monotonous and yet not tiring. Works nicely in adding to the whole spaceport vibe.
The spaceport is the place that you will spend almost all of your time. The city is build like a maze, filled with alleyways, not clear main streets, plazas etc. It is split in districts that are recognizable by a color and to find your way to them you will need to follow the arrows that are painted on the road. There is no map in game and you will have to spend time in order to figure out where everything is. At first it is frustrating, because of the pressure to do your job and not having enough time to explore, but as you go on, you get to recognize monuments, stores and parts of the city that help you navigate to where you need to go. In some ways it’s similar to moving in a new city and trying to learn it’s parts. The first few days you don’t go far, only around your neighborhood but after some time you move further and further.
I really enjoyed the so different alien citizens that live in the spaceport. It reminded me the Star Wars cantina, with all those different characters going about their day, just in a bigger scale. Most of these characters will be agressive against you, will try to get something from you and will sell their stuff at pretty expensive prices. You will need to focus on your goal, what you decide to do, go about your life or try to lift the curse, keeping all the noise away.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the game offers you a simple quest to get rid of your curse. I found out that you can go about the game in two ways : either trying to get rid of said curse, following the sub quests, or follow the every day routine that is gathering and burning junk. Personally I found both ways to be tiresome after a while and I will explain why.
Say you want to get on with the questline. You will have to talk with a few characters in order to find out what needs to be done. And what actually needs to be done is fetching and gathering side quests. To get the three parts of the tablet needed to lift the curse, you will have to find a dirty book for a slimey alien, to gather all nine goddess fetishes and go in the dungeons to find the last piece. They might seem simple, although already nothing interesting and nothing we haven’t seen in other games, but the fact that you will need lots of money to buy the stuff needed, and to find money you will have to grind every day burning junk, which makes this questline not so simple as it seems.
You will mostly have to work two game days in order to gather some money and buy only one of the items needed. The fetish side quest is also based on RNG and if you find the fetishes fast, then you are very lucky. But I am still looking for some of them. In addition, you will speak with a character, get the quest and if you don’t note down where you found them, you will have to search all over the city for them. The game as I mentioned has no map and no quest tracker to help you. I spent too much time trying to find Vyorba Toxxx again, more than I should have to and it definitely become tiresome after a while.
So that brings us back to the second way to play the game, which is gathering and burning junk. You can do that every day, going outside, burning stuff and when your battery is low, you eat, get back home and sleep. For me though that way of playing is not interesting and does not offer a goal that I can work to, something that every day I can feel I did something to improve my character. The other aliens of the spaceport don’t have anything interesting to offer storywise, they are there to sell you stuff. The mundane nature of this way to play reminded me in the beginning games like Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley, but that feeling got lost when I found out that there’s nothing interesting to work to.
You can buy Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor on Steam for the price of 9,99€.
You can see Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor in two ways. Either as a relaxing experience that lets you wander in a very alive, even though messy spaceport, filled with interesting alien forms, or as a grinding experience that hasn’t an interesting goal to work to and not much depth to it. Unfortunately I found the latter to apply on me and I did not enjoy the game as much as others might. The low-fi visual style was tiring after some time, the bustling city lost it’s magic after a while and grinding toward the main quest seemed unfair and a chore. The truth is that these quirky, weird games that try to do something different, need to be experienced first hand in order for someone to get in a more informed decision, so if you read something above that intrigued you, then you should try it and judge for yourselves.
+Interesting and alive world
+Offers something different in gameplay
–Not so much depth
–Grinding without an interesting goal
–The quests seem like a chore
Score : 6,8/10
Dimitris “Dimi Kaye” Kalyvas