Procedurally generated games are popular, since they’re a relatively low effort way to add a lot of replayability. Games like Enter the Gungeon used this to find a lot of success and following in those footsteps is Dead End Job. The main appeal is less the dynamic nature of the game and more the ‘90s Ren and Stimpy art style. This seems like a good combo but with so many other games trying to find ways to stand out, does it succeed or is it a dead end game?
For whatever reason there is something of a story in Dead End Job. While working your dead end job, earning a variety of pointless promotions and being asked to do increasingly difficult tasks, this is all so you can lay Beryl to rest. But, before you can do that, you need to save enough funds to build the modifications needed and that, like most tasks in life, gives your job meaning.
As someone that loves games like this and has platinumed Enter the Gungeon, Dead Cells, The Binding of Isaac, Rogue Legacy and more, Dead End Job is quite honestly pretty disappointing. After figuring out how to move, shoot and obtain items, the relative difficulty is pretty low. I was able to beat my initial run without dying and after a certain point I could steamroll practically anything due to the sheer number of promotions, which grant additional benefits like increased damage, I earned.
A large part of this is honestly how simple and straightforward the mechanics are. The deepest thing I found was using the vacuum to suck up bullets, a trick that can be used to almost reduce the difficulty to nothing. Instead, Dead End Job relies on relatively cheap and annoying enemies to ultimately defeat you. Yeah, obscuring your vision or forcing you to make an enemy attack is one way to bring you in harm’s way, it just sucks that this is the most they can come up with.
From there, the dynamic nature only goes so far. Enemy spawns tend to be half the battle, with perks and bonuses ultimately determining how much skill is required to be successful. Here, the gameplay loop never really changes and most items and perks have little impact on things. Like, I’ll be quite honest, there are a good number of items and perks I collected that I have no clue what they supposedly did, yet it didn’t stop me. This is a stark contrast to some of the aforementioned games where certain items could single handedly ruin a run. Perhaps I was lucky enough to only encounter the good ones or maybe you need to do something to unlock them, but it’s disappointing regardless.
All this comes together in a rather disappointing way, since the core gameplay loop is a lot of fun. I had a blast walking into a room, locating the biggest or most immediate threat and trying to suck it up before clearing everything else out. It’s just, after a couple hours, regardless of how dynamic the game is, it all starts to feel the same. After a while you just start testing things out of upon finishing a cycle, wondering why you should bother continuing.
Much of this stems from it seemingly having less variety than any of the aforementioned games. Enemies, items and the number of rooms might not change but it isn’t like different runs will yield completely different gameplay experiences or even offer players new challenges to overcome. There just comes a time when you realize you’re running from room to room looking for things to kill for the sake of it. Maybe there is enjoyment in doing the same task, only slightly different, in a wide variety of rooms for some, it just doesn’t change the fact others did it much better.
Dead End Job Verdict
Despite having a lot of fun with Dead End Job, it’s hard to ignore where it falls short. It never really breaks outside of the established gameplay loop, nor does it create enough challenge to make the dynamic concepts interesting. There is only so far you can go when your variety comes down to whether a turkey spawns in one of five spots, none of which really changes the reality you’re going to kill it, leaving you with a fun, though ultimately, hollow experience. So, the best advice I can give is, wait for a sale or if you’re lucky it will be offered as a free game, as there is enough substance to have fun, it just falls short of where a good number of other games landed.
[Editor’s Note: Dead End Job was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]