Dead End Job
Gameplay 8
Graphics 9
Sound 8

Dead End Job is a twin-stick shooter where players take control of Hector Plasm, a ghost exterminator on a mission to save his mentor’s soul. To accomplish this Hector will need a lot of cash, but luckily there is no shortage of people willing to pay him to shoot ghosts with his plasma blaster before sucking up the pesky spirits in a vacuum pack. The procedurally generated levels in this game span several distinct districts and the game is a lot of fun. Dying means losing all your perks, which sucks and the co-op is a bit of a letdown due to the limitations of the secondary character, but overall Dead End Job has a lot to offer.

Gameplay: Shoot ghosts to stun them, then suck them up in a vacuum pack.

Graphics: Very colorful and there’s a wide range of different ghosts types to encounter.

Sound: The soundtrack fits the style of the game perfectly and there’s even a neat intro theme song

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Dead End Job

Developer: Ant Workshop Ltd | Publisher: Headup | Release Date: 2019 | Genre: Action / Top Down Shooter / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Things are not looking so great for Hector Plasm, the protagonist of Dead End Job. His mentor, Beryl Ware, choked to death on a sandwich and is now haunting him as a ghost. This places Hector in a bit of a predicament as he works for Ghoul-B-Gone, a paranormal pest control agency that specializes in ridding the world of pesky ghosts. However, Hector is unwilling to condemn Beryl to an eternity of being a spook, so he comes up with a plan to save her soul. Unfortunately, this plan requires Hector to come up with $1,000 000 in cash within 30 days, which is not so easy if you are employed by a very stingy boss. Hector has no choice except to take on dangerous ghost exterminating jobs in an effort to earn enough cash before it’s too late for Beryl.

All of this is explained in a nice little Saturday morning cartoon style introduction, complete with a catchy tune and some Ren & Stimpy-esque visuals. Players are then given access to the Ghoul-B-Gone headquarters from where you get to pick your next assignment. Initially, only the business district is available, but after earning enough cash players can also gain access to the park, restaurant, and factory districts. Each level is procedurally generated, so you never know what to expect once you arrive. Jobs tend to range from five to 20 minutes in duration, depending on the area that you have selected as well as how thorough you are in your extermination efforts. Seeing as you only have 30 days to generate enough cash and each job takes a whole day, it’s advisable not sticking with the low-paying jobs for too long. Don’t get too greedy though, as the higher paying jobs can end in disaster if you are not ready for the tougher ghosts that roam there.

Gameplay in Dead End Job takes the form of a twin-stick shooter that is viewed from an overhead perspective. Hector is armed with a plasma blaster with which he can shoot ghosts until they are dizzy, which is when he can use the vacuum pack on his back to suck them up. It sounds easy enough except that the ghosts are not just going to stand around and let you shoot at them as well as the fact that your gear overheats. This means you need to carefully prioritize which ghosts to shoot and then suck them up as quickly as possible before they can recover and take their revenge on you. The good news is that you earn promotions if you bust enough ghosts and along with a snazzy new job title these also offer you a choice between three random “employee bonuses.” Some of the more useful bonuses will provide you with extra health, faster shots, stronger bullets, and lower heat buildup for your gear. The extra health, in particular, is extremely useful as Hector only starts with three hearts and getting touched by a ghost or hit by one of their projectiles will instantly rob him of one. Add to that the fact that the rooms in this game are often filled with things that can explode and you’ll quickly learn the value of keeping Hector as healthy as possible. To aid you with this you’ll also discover random items scattered about the rooms, many of which take the form of food that can replenish your health. Unfortunately, you can only carry two items at a time and there’s no way to drop them without using them, so watch out for the items that can do you harm instead of good.

Dead End Job is a very addictive game, but it can also be a bit frustrating at times. This is mostly because losing all your health results in a demotion, which also strips you of all your employee bonuses. You get to keep your cash and can continue to do missions in an effort to get enough money before your 30 days are up, but it’s heartbreaking to lose a ton of perks and end up back at square one. Sometimes it can also feel like it’s almost impossible to not get hit, especially in rooms with lots of obstacles that can explode. While you have to dodge enemies, their projectiles, trails of sticky goo on the floor and whatever obstacles are in your way, enemies can simply ignore all of this and head straight for you. The game does have a drop-in/drop-out couch co-op mode, but instead of playing as another exterminator, the second player is given control of Beryl. We are sure that she was a great ghost exterminator while still alive, but being a ghost limits her usefulness in this area. Instead of a gun and vacuum pack, Beryl has access to goo that can slow down enemies but can also hamper Hector if you are not careful.

To complete jobs in this game all you have to do is find the civilians who have been trapped by ghosts and free them by exterminating all the ghosts. You are then free to head back to the exit and leave the job. However, doing so will rob you of a lot of income that you could have gotten from exterminating all the ghosts and clearing all the rooms, not to mention the promotions along with perks that you could have earned. The game also gives you three random “contracts” at all times, which upon completion will reward you with even more cash or coupons. The former contributes to the total required to save Beryl, while the latter can be used to unlock concept art. The contracts range from exterminating a certain amount of ghosts to clearing a set number of floors or completing jobs in specific districts. The payouts can be lucrative, but might also tempt you to bite off more than you can chew and cost you in the long run.

Visually Dead End Job is a good looking game that is filled with vibrant artwork and great character designs. The Ren & Stimpy influences can be seen everywhere and you’ll run into numerous wacky ghosts as well. From the poultrygeists that roam around the restaurants to the Water Ghoulers and Secrescary you encounter in the business district there is no shortage of imaginative ghosts. Our favorites include the ZX Spectre that looks exactly like you would imagine and the Office AssistHaunt, who is basically the ghostly incarnation of everyone’s most hated virtual Office Assistant, Clippit. The game features a handbook that records all your accomplishments as well as information about all the spooks that you bust. The enemy intros for the bigger foes are neat the first few times, but you might want to disable them from the options screen after you’ve seen them all. Seeing as Dead End Job is a 2D, there isn’t a whole lot of graphical options beyond selecting the resolution.

Dead End Job doesn’t sound half bad either with original music by none other than Will Morton of Grand Theft Auto fame. The sound effects are good too, but you won’t find any voice acting here, which feels a bit weird given the cartoonish nature of the visuals. In terms of audio options, you can adjust the SFX and Music volume sliders individually. We didn’t encounter any issues with the controls and the keyboard and mouse is a natural fit for these types of top-down shooters. Thanks to the Remote Player Together feature of Steam the game can be played with a friend online as well, but this would have been more fun if they could play as a character similar to Hector.

Overall, we enjoyed our time with Dead End Job, although it did take us two attempts to gather enough money and defeat the final boss to save Beryl. During our first run who lost all our perks right at the last area and there weren’t enough days left to get enough promotions to regain some of them. Things went a bit better during our second attempt and we managed to get enough cash long before the deadline. This gave us enough time to get a few more promotions and add a few more perks to make the final area a little more manageable.

If you enjoy games like The Binding of Isaac, then you’ll enjoy Dead End Job. Death is a bit harsh in terms of losing all your perks, but it doesn’t mean that you have to restart all the levels from scratch like in other titles. Instead, you can still claw your way back with a bit of skill and determination. The co-op mode is a bit disappointing, but the game still had enough content to keep us busy for a few hours.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10 64 Bit
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz Dual Core Processor
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce 8800 or equivalent
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 2 GB available space

Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz Dual Core Processor
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce 8800 or equivalent
  • Storage: 2 GB available space

Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system

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