Some games are easy to explain! DOOM is about shooting demons. Kingdom Hearts is about giant shoes. GTAV is about playing as Trevor and enjoying every second of it. Some games are, uh, less easy to explain; trying to summarize Hyperdimension Neptunia gets more difficult with every review. And then there’s Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor, which, uh…
So you’re a janitor in a spaceport. Your job is to keep the area clean by any means necessary, which means picking up crap and disposing of it as you will. You’ve got an incinerator. Use that to deal with the trash. That’s probably a good idea. You’ll also want to eat and regularly shift genders (surprisingly comical for a concept that many games would fall over themselves to address with as heavy a hand as possible) in order to stay in decent shape, so that means spending the money you make from your janitorial duties. If you get horribly cursed, which will inevitably happen, you’ll probably need to do something about that as well. But most importantly, the spaceport has got to stay clean, so get to work.
That’s basically what’s going on here, but it doesn’t really capture the sheer essence of weird that makes Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor what it is. I found myself lacking many options for comparison. Eventually settled on a sort of mix between Animal Crossing and the “classic” PlayStation weirdness sim LSD: Dream Emulator.
There are weird spaceport inhabitants who say weird, insulting things to you – you’re just a janitor, after all. The space junk you pick up all has weird, amusing descriptions to read, and often it has some value that you’ll have to discern. You kinda-sorta have weird goals to accomplish, but you don’t really have to worry about them if you don’t want to, and that’s weird. You have to manage your luck by adhering to a weird sort of space religion. You also have to write in your diary about the weird stuff that happens to you each day before you go to bed. Eventually you’ll have a giant chronicle of weird, which is itself weird.
It’s all tied together with a weird 32-bit early-polygonal-era presentation that immediately attracts attention. Something must be said for games that look like this; a significant portion of players these days grew up with the PlayStation 1, after all, and for many it was their first console. It’s probably also worth mention that Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor has every chance in the world to condescend the player and never really does so. If the game makes you think about real-world concepts like gender identity and social stratification, well, that’s on you, which is surprisingly refreshing in 2016. All Diaries wants you to do is your damn job. Think all you want so long as the spaceport gets clean.
With that in mind, Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is an easy recommendation if you’re looking for something different, because hoo boy it’s very different. Ten bucks isn’t much to ask for something truly “different.” You can probably afford that on a janitor’s salary. Just watch out for the horrible curses.