Ever wanted to play a game where you play as a janitor? What about an alien janitor? Well, Vermont-based indie studio Sundae Month has you covered with their recent “anti-adventure” title Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor, published by tinyBuild.
The BasicsYou play as the Janitor, an “Alaenese girlbeast” who gets paid by the city to pick up bits of detritus left behind by the lazy alien citizenry. Everything (and I do mean everything) from piles of dirt to rotten food to magical charms and valuable gemstones are strewn across the landscape, just waiting for you to pick them up and sell, eat, or incinerate them in your portable trash burner.
Story and FlowYou wander around town, picking up trash that gets helpfully highlighted (easy-to spot aura) when you approach, and then decide what to do with it – toss it into your pack to sell later, eat it, or burn it. You need to eat daily to survive – whether that means buying some filling grub from a vendor, or taking your chances with some literal street pizza; choose poorly, and you'll have something new to pick up and incinerate after it makes you sick. At the end of the day, you scribble down an brief diary entry and hit the sack. In the morning, you wake up and collect your pay for whatever junk you torched the day before, then do it all over again. In addition, you'll also need to watch out for your battery life – if it runs out, you won't be able to pick up any items at all until you rest again. Hope you remember to grab some food before that happens...
You are also encouraged to hit up the local sewer dungeon every day for loot and adventure – after you buy the requisite entry token each and every time, of course. Your first trip there gets you stuck with an unwanted, and very loud, skull companion and its requisite curse; this starts you off on a journey to rid yourself of them both, while still making enough money to survive. Watch out for the local guards, though; they don't think much of you, and they think even less of mugging you for your hard-earned credits if you get too close to them. Oh yeah, you'll also need to visit the “Gender Change” station every few days, or else the visuals will go all wonky on you, making it even harder to progress. As with battery life, this is one of the less-well-explained mechanics of the game.
Controls, Graphics, and SoundThe controls are pretty standard; it’s Xbox One controller-compatible by default. The point-of-view is third-person, and the inventory & shopping interfaces are simple and functional.
The graphics are trippy, intentionally blocky 8-bittish graphics in a 3-D world. As with much of the rest of the game – it’s an acquired taste that I never quite grew to appreciate. I recommend checking out a trailer before taking the plunge, to see if it works for you. It does offer a wide variety of NPC models, though. The play area is large, with clearly delineated, color-based divisions and arrows to help you get from one area to the next.
The sound is pretty good – nothing to write home about – but it provides plenty enough atmosphere. One major problem is the skull’s screeching, which is pretty annoying. And this is unfortunate, because turning down the sound makes everything else hard to hear.