Dead End Job Review

If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? If you just answered “Ghostbusters!”, you’re not wrong. If you answered “Hector Plasm”, then you’ve probably just been playing Dead End Job — a twin-stick shooter that places you in the day-to-day life of a Paranormal Pest Controller. Or as I like to call it, a Ghostbuster.

Our protagonist in Dead End Job is Hector Plasm, a ghost hunter at Ghoul-B-Gone who goes into different buildings and kooky neighborhoods to rescue citizens and clear out the paranormal nuisances that plague the area. Your mission is not only to save the town from pests, but to also save the soul of your mentor — a former partner of yours who has taken to training you into greatness until they can move on peacefully.

Another Day At The Office

Each level in Dead End Job works pretty much the same way: You enter a premises armed with a vacuum that blasts and sucks up ghosts, and you shoot your way through until each room is clear or until you rescue the citizens in distress. For every ghost you defeat and objective you complete, you rack up cash and save up until you can unlock the next neighborhood on the map. There are many different varieties of ghosts, all with different threat levels and difficulties, and you can also pick up power-ups along the way that can do anything from restoring health to maxing out your gun for a short burst of time. Mechanically, all you have to do is walk around with the left joystick and point and shoot with the right. L2 sucks the ghost up and cashes them in, and your front left and right triggers activate the power-ups you obtain. It’s simple enough that even the least experienced of players can pick up a controller and slay without much practice.

Though the premise and mechanics are simple and easy enough for anybody to get the hang of, this is not to say the game is always easy. In my time with Dead End Job, I didn’t necessarily feel like the enemies posed as much of a challenge as the surroundings did, and many times I underestimated the map’s ability to mess me up. The levels typically have tons of obstacles and barriers littering the area, and you must maneuver through narrow pathways while ghosts pop up and move toward you from every direction. More often than not, I lost all my lives thanks to tripping over an obstacle and getting stuck, and it definitely added a layer of challenge to the game. 

What’s nice about Dead End Job is that even when you lose all three of your lives and fail a level, the game and story continue to progress. You can still move on to new areas and levels even if you failed the previous job, and new cutscenes will play out as well. The one catch, however, is that each time you die or quit a job, you lose your character progress and perks. As you play, you earn experience on the job and can be promoted, and these promotions always grant you the opportunity to choose a new perk for Hector. These perks can be anything from upgrading the firing rate of your gun to poking holes in your vacuum so it doesn’t overheat as often. You are able to keep all of these perks and promotions as you play through the game, but all it takes is a few bad runs to break down this progress and demote you back to basics. I really liked this mechanic because even though it could be frustrating at times, it added a layer of incentive and challenge to the otherwise very basic gameplay.

Kickin’ Butt, Saving Idiots

Dead End Job oozes with character, and artistically it takes on a style that perfectly captures the tone of the game. Drawn like a cartoon from the 90s, it’s gross and unabashed and utterly witty. Every character, paranormal pest and job title has a clever and punny name, and I love that it doesn’t hold back in its humor — one small example is how the busters constantly slip up and call the people you have to rescue “idiots” instead of citizens. In terms of style, this game’s got a lot of it, and it owns it completely.

The only real issue I have with Dead End Job is the repetition of the gameplay. I did find myself getting sick of it and wondering if the next level was going to be the one that turned the game on its head. The game supports easy drop-in/drop-out couch co-op, and ghostbusting with a partner makes it much more appealing to keep blasting through as many levels as possible. However, in single player, I didn’t feel the same desire to play for hours on end. Though there are fun power-ups to find and perks to unlock, I reached a limit every night with how much I could hold down a joystick and shoot spongey enemies over and over again. Every room of every level is virtually the same, and it would have been nice if there was even one room every few levels or so that had a gigantic boss battle or something. Anything to switch up the gameplay would have been appreciated.

I can’t knock Dead End Job for anything other than its redundant level design and mechanics, as it really does succeed in every other aspect pretty well. The art and music are great, the perks are clever, and the couch co-op is a huge plus. I think it would make an excellent game for kids or for couples and friends who love playing new, lighthearted games together that don’t require a high level of skill or attention. However, for solo players, I don’t imagine this game being able to hold the same longevity for everybody. Still, it’s a solid little indie game that lets you play as a Ghostbuster, and for some, that’s the dream.

***Nintendo Switch review code provided by the publisher.***

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Dead End Job Review – Who You Gonna Call?