No one wants to end up in a dead end job, with a boss who’s hounding you every step of the way. So, when you’re placed on monster extermination duty there’s only one way up the corporate ladder. Dead End Job for the Nintendo Switch wants you to clean up, clear out, and make some bank for the ghoulie extermination industry.
Taking on the role as a Hector Plasm, a bit of a gangly, overweight ghost-busting worker at a local paranormal pest control agency, your job is to handle the ghouls that have haunted various establishments around the city and to free those establishments of the unwanted guests. What excited me right out of the gate with this game was its presentation and style. Indeed it features vibrant characters and scenes, including a whole introductory cinematic set in the style of a cartoon that looks like it would belong perfectly on a Saturday morning line up on Cartoon Network. Bubbly characters introduce the game world and set up for you, and you learn that Hector is being haunted by his former mentor and needs her soul saved. To do this, you’ll need to gain enough cash and reputation within a month on the job in hopes of accomplishing this goal. That’s a good enough reason if you ask me!
The game takes twin-stick shooting mechanics and blends them with roguelike elements to create a vibe similar to something like The Binding of Isaac, except way friendlier looking. You’ll be tasked with entering rooms and using your vacuum-blaster combo weapon. First you’ll need to find and weaken the ghoulies that have infested a room and then when they are disoriented you must suck them up. Rooms are the size of your screen so there isn’t a lot of space to navigate around, especially when they are often crowded with office furniture, stacks of papers, and other miscellaneous items. Any one room can become quite populated with said corporeal beings as the difficulty increases into your calendar month of working this job.
In your 30 days, you’ll need to raise enough money with each gig to secure unlocking the next region on the map. Do this for all of them, and well, you’ll ultimately win. Come up short like I did most of the time, and it’s back to the beginning of your career. While the basics of ghost busting are quite simple, there are several layers still that give this game some added complexity. For every job you take you’ll enter a randomized space comprised of several rooms. You’ll navigate room-to-room accomplishing your main task, which in most cases early on will be to rescue trapped civilians. As I mentioned though, the goal to progression is cold hard cash, and to gain this you’ll have to linger around more. While you could just beeline it through the building until you get to your civilians and then bolt back to HQ, you won’t make enough cash to help your situation out. Instead I found it to be a necessity to clear as many rooms as I could, while also destroying furniture and items at every corner since some would spill out stacks of cash. Anyone who has played Luigi’s Mansion 3 will know cash is hidden everywhere! This however slowed gameplay down a lot for me, and having to spam shoot random objects in hopes they’d drop some cash did get pretty redundant after a while.
Along the way you’ll also find pick-ups that can influence things when activated. Most of these had vague descriptions and so there was often times I’d activate something and not quite notice what had happened. As an added layer of progression, your worker can also climb the corporate ladder as they exterminate! Filling your vacuum also increases a little meter next to it, and when you’ve peaked that meter, you can level up right there on the spot. You’ll get a new fancy job title, and be able to choose from 1 of 3 perks that are as permanent as a dead-end job would allow. These upgrades also suffered from some vague descriptions on a few of them, so I found myself taking the predictable, well described ones, such as faster fire rate, or more health. As I said, these perks have the opportunity to be permanent for you, however in a roguelike sort of fashion, should you perish while on a job, you’ll be demoted and lose what you had gained. It’s not a full character reset (unless you keep losing), but it definitely stunk when I lost a new favorite perk of mine because I got greedy and hastily tried to clear an overwhelming room.
While the layered mechanics are certainly appreciated and well needed for a game like this, I still found after a few hours of gameplay feeling a bit lackluster and had wished for something more tied into the physical rooms themselves that I was encountering. I’d hit normal enemy rooms and then randomized rooms would include a mini boss of sorts too, but I yearned for a bit something extra. That being said, the total aesthetic and cartoon TV style comedy really ties the game together in a fun and wacky way. I could totally picture this game being translated back into an actual episodic cartoon that I personally would get a kick out of watching. Dead End Job has done everything right with the theme and style here.
There’s a clever ghost busting game here that ticks many of the right boxes for a pretty enjoyable experience, albeit a bit repetitive one. The game’s presentation is spot on and represents a strong familiarity with Cartoon Network shows. If you’re up for a silly twin-stick shooter, Dead End Job is a reasonably good time with some laughs along the way.
Dead End Job Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 6.5/106.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6/106/10
Final Thoughts: WORTH CONSIDERING
Dead End Job is all about ghost busting and making cash for the corporate greed…well and maybe saving your beloved mentor from eternal soul destruction. Accessible twin-stick shooting, and some randomized components with a unique progression coupled with an awesomely vibrant TV cartoon aesthetic build a reasonably fun game. Some areas of the design could have used a bit more oomph and there’s a level of repetition that sets in pretty early.
Alex has been actively gaming since the release of the Nintendo. Turning passion into profession, he’s spent just over a decade in game development, and is currently the Creative Director at a studio.