The ghostbusters called. They think your game is looking pretty good!
Remember Binaries? It was a smooth puzzle platformer where you moved two balls at once through various obstacles. That game was made by a studio called Ant Workshop. This studio, headed by ex-Rockstar employee Tony Gowland, focuses on two things: bringing indies to Nintendo Switch and developing original software. After Binaries, the second game has revealed itself as Dead End Job, a twin stick shooter that doesn’t actually have too much shooting. Sound confusing? What if I told you that you are a ghost hunter? Think Luigi in Luigi’s Mansion. That should clear up a few things I reckon!
Anyway, you play as Hector Plasm. He is one of the workers at Ghoul-B-Gone, a ghost hunting agency. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but you are actually haunted by your mentor. Your mentor took on a dangerous job, and got his soul ripped out of him. Now you have to return his soul to his body, or he will stay soulless for eternity. To do this, you take on various missions and blast a variety of ghosts into submission. The style has a very 90s feel to it. It reminded me a lot of Nickelodeon cartoons, with Ren & Stimpy being the prime example. It looks very clean, and is created with a lot of flair. It is honestly a really fun title.
During my demo, I got to play through two missions and the feeling became clear immediately. Dead End Job is a twin stick shooter, so moving and using your equipment can be done without stopping. At first, you will have to shoot plasma beams to weaken your foes. Once you nail this step, sucking them in with your trusty vacuum is a breeze. Well, at first that is. As each level progresses, the enemies become multi-layered. This will force you to use specific items, different ways of shooting and your agile movement. The levels are also different every time you play, so it is hard to fully prepare for what is ahead.
The ghosts are absolutely hilarious. They will shout silly one-liners as they reference the best and worst of the 90s. One reference that I noticed during the demo was an enemy based on Clippy, the office assistant from old versions of MS Word. His classic lines of advice get a dark yet endearing twist as you roam the top-down rooms. Another character reminded me of some popular pocket creatures that we all know way too well. The intention to parody is obvious, and Dead End Job is better for it.
While catching ghosts is fun, the goals are a lot more involved than this alone. The ghosts you collect will net you coins, so catching the toughest ones will give you more for your efforts. Money can also be found in levels, which helps to raise your score. In addition, there are also citizens that need to be secured while performing your duties. This objective is required to progress, so taking your time to find the citizens is important. Keeping all of this in mind, you will also need to stay alive with a limited amount of health. Juggling all of these goals at once makes for quite a challenging game!
Dead End Job is shaping up to be a enjoyable game. While we have wait until 2019, the game already balances has a solid balance between challenge and entertainment. More importantly, though, the mechanics just feel good. Going from shooting to vacuuming feels very intuitive and designed in a way that makes sense. Obviously, we can't skim over the presentation either. The incredibly charming 90s style gives the title a unique and colorful look. Who you gonna call? Hector Plasm, I guess!