Review: Dead End Job (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC, Mac, Linux

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Dead End Job
Format: PSN (570.29 MB)
Release Date: December 13, 2019
Publisher: Headup Games GmbH & Co. KG
Developer: Ant Workshop Ltd.
Original MSRP: $16.99 (US), £12.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

The wife and I love co-op games. In fact, the entire family loves to grab four controllers and have a laugh in a local multiplayer game. I was delighted to see something that features, according to the PlayStation Store page, “drop-in/drop-out co-op that works seamlessly within the main adventure.”

Gameplay:
The wife was busy when I began this review so I decided to start the game on my own. Dead End Job has a fun little introduction and a good narrative throughout, which I didn’t really expect from a little ghost shooting and catching, twin-stick shooter.

My character is called Hector Plasm and it’s his job to rid businesses of their ghost infestation and save the trapped civilians in the procedurally generated levels. Hector can, and often does, get hurt; luckily consuming food restores a lost heart. I’m unable to consume food while my two item slots are full, which means I need to use a potentially valuable object just to gain some health.

If I lose three hearts, I’m demoted and get kicked back to the office. Luckily, I cash-in any money earned so it isn’t a complete loss. I do however lose all of my hard-earned upgrades, which is extremely annoying.

Each of the rooms features furniture and obstacles, most of which can be destroyed, allowing your plasma shots to pass through. Some things even spill out cash, which all goes in the savings jar at the end of the level, along with bonuses for any unused items, ghosts caught, and so on. Once the jar is full I can unlock a new area on the small map and continue filling a bigger jar.

Capturing ghosts requires several hits of plasma, and then, once they are stunned, a quick blast of the vacuum to suck them up. Too much use causes the backpack to overheat and then it isn’t any good until it fully cools down. Upgrades can extend the overheating delay or speed up the cooldown. Easing off the trigger before it overheats allows the backpack to cool down at a faster rate and therefore avoiding the agonizing wait.

There are quite a few different enemies, all of which feature inventive monikers. They get angry if I start shooting them and, given enough opportunity, they flee and regain their health. Some are easy to kill but a few can be quite tricky. Due to the randomization, I’m never sure what the next room might hold.

One annoying thing I noticed happens when I exit a room. If done accidentally during a battle with the apparitions, they reset and I have to fight them all over again. This has happened a few times so far and annoys the hell out of me. It can be beneficial if I meant to do it, if I’m low on health, for example, and there is another route to the civilian or exit.

Visuals:
There are some easy comparisons to make in this department, with Ren & Stimpy instantly springing to mind. The little cutscenes are nice enough and the enemies are very inventive and memorable.

Audio:
Former Senior Sound Designer and Dialogue Supervisor for Rockstar North, Will Morton, who worked on the Grand Theft Auto series, created the excellent music for Dead End Job.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only and features no online component. I bet you weren’t expecting that as I mentioned earlier about the drop-in/drop-out co-op. Sadly, it doesn’t work. The developer is aware and currently working on a patch that I hoped would be out already. I even held off on posting the review so I could play the game at its full potential.

Okay, scratch that last paragraph, as when I was about to copy the screenshots for this review, a patch landed fixing this major bug and a few other little ones too. Okay, scratch that last sentence-the second player cannot do anything apart from hindering the first player. I hope it’s another bug as it would seem their weapon is ineffective against the enemies and slime is dropped on the floor slowing down the first player, making them an annoying distraction.

Conclusion:
Dead End Job is fun and frustratingly difficult game, in part because of losing upgrades with each death, along with the need to waste an item just so I can grab some food for a health boost. Before the patch, I was considering a score around the six region and sadly, due to the new bugs, I have to stay around that area.

That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy playing it, as it can be fun, and discovering new and very strange enemies and items is great fun. The procedural generation of levels still brings some repetition with it but not so much that it tips the scale, as my desire to capture every ghost and free all the civilians keeps me playing for ages.

Either don’t expect the co-op to work or hope the developer managed to fix it. I’m just disappointed that I waited so long for the patch and there are more issues to contend with.

Score:
5.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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