Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor, a new indie game by developer Sundae Month, offers a novel experience as you take control of a character whose job is to incinerate rubbish found around the Spaceport. The aim is to earn money and find a way off of the planet, a simple concept which becomes significantly more complicated. Although there are vendors scattered around who also buy some of the items you might decide to keep, portable inventory space is limited. The incinerator battery drains with each use and restores when your character sleeps, but food is needed before sleep can be achieved – do you spend hard-earned money or risk eating something you find?
These problems, however, are the most mundane faced. During the first hour of gameplay, an ‘Eye of Beb’ was eaten to gain access to the ‘sewerdungeons’ where the ‘girlbeast’ janitor was cursed with a floating, tag-a-long skull which intermittently roars, until three pieces of an instruction manual are obtained.
Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor has some charming aspects. There’s a level of ingenuity to the game world despite the simplicity of the core gameplay, and both the soundtrack and character sound effects are surprisingly in sync with the unique atmosphere created by the game world. There is also an added level of interaction afforded by the inclusion of the titular diary in which you can type freely at the end of each in-game day. However, the game also has numerous limitations. Although the art style has a certain charm and innocence, it could definitely be considered overstimulating. The roughness in the textures and the patchwork of colours combined with clunky camera angles eventually began to give me a headache during play.
An aspect of the game which may need to be questioned, however, is the way the inclusion of the gender-switching aspect is handled. While the ability to customise characters in-game in aspects such as gender is something to be encouraged, Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor makes ‘gendershifting’ mandatory. After a while the environment becomes fuzzier and harder to manage – a banner pops up on screen informing you need a ‘gender shift’, available to buy at a ‘gender kiosk’. This doesn’t seem to have an actual purpose, especially when the genders given are nonsensical like ‘slimeblend’ and ‘hellgender’, and have no discernible effects on gameplay.
Overall, it feels like Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor tries hard to be creative and unpredictable. While this is arguably achieved, the game still revolves around being a Janitor and that action quickly becomes monotonous. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much coherence or story, with gameplay outside of trash-collecting consisting mainly of fetch quests. This is especially frustrating when you factor in the absence of a navigation system, which makes getting from A to B an issue – that is assuming you even know what B should be.