We’ve all been there. Life not going our way. Bills piling up. The kids need braces. Sparky the hamster needs 2 of his legs amputated (one front, one back, thankfully). Whatever the case may be for you, at some point, we’ve all looked at our lives and thought – knew, rather – that we needed a night job just to get by with whatever we needed/wanted. This is what My Night Job is preying on. Normally, we’d look to conventional means to up our net worth. That 24 hour McDonald’s needs someone to man the Drive-Thru window. The local mall needs overnight security. Babysitting the frightened animals at the zoo when there are thunderstorms. Unfortunately, Reggie Venkman decided to go in a different direction…
Now, if you’re a fan of pop culture and horror icons of the past 30 years, you’d likely recognize that last name. Yes, Reggie Venkman is a play on Peter Venkman, the popular character from Captain Planet. I think he was the water guy. Anywho… Reggie gets home from his menial day job one night and stumbles across a commercial for a night job (you think this is where they got the name?) that has an immediate opening. With visions of sugar plums dancing in his head, Reggie quickly heads on out to apply, and wouldn’t you know it? He gets the job. They must have been really hurting for help.
That’s the set up for this arcade-style brawler/rescue sim. It all happens within the span of a minute in a short cut scene at the start, but it fits so well. The job in question is set up to enter a mansion full of a variety of monsters to rescue stereotypical victims. 100 in total, in fact. With each successful save, he accumulates more dough. Get in, get people, get out. If only it were that simple…
Right out of the gate, the music hits you with a video game-y style horror sound from the 80’s. It works to its advantage, and the music throughout, though not through quantity, keeps the tone and atmosphere fun and tense. The same goes with the graphical style. My Night Job has a wonderful thing going for it it. The pixelated, hand-drawn (I assume) artwork makes this game have a distinct look, and the color palate certainly helps it along, too. I use the word “charming” a lot, but I use it when I feel it’s appropriate. It’s appropriate here. The animations keep the flow of what the developer Webcore Games was looking for, which is again, a nice touch.
Once you get to the mansion, you’re immediately greeted by a survivor who needs rescuing. Run up them, get them to follow you, and find your way to one of the designated helipads for extraction. Upon doing this, you’re rewarded with a random prize, be it extra cash, health, or a gun. Getting there initially is pretty simple. The longer you play, however, the harder it gets.
Littered throughout are weapons for you to pick up, crazily over 60, in fact, so you don’t have to rely only on your fists, though you’re more than welcome to fail trying. It’s kind of like a side-scrolling arcade-style Dead Rising game. The weapons you can find vary wildly, from potted plants, safes, golf clubs, bicycles, and much, much more. Some are even nice homages to the pop culture horror/comedy properties I mentioned earlier. Keep your eyes peeled, because this title is littered with them. Always a cool thing to have in a game like this.
Another facet to the weapons are that they all have varying degrees of power and health. Yes, they eventually break, adding that Dead Rising feel I mentioned, as well as the strategy involved. Do I stick it out with this almost broken chair that does great damage for the next room, or do I drop it for this full guitar on the off-chance I get swarmed and don’t have access to a new tool to defend myself? This is likely a scenario you’ll come across often. There’s strategy in how you use the weapons, too. If you use a heavy item that slams the ground and causes big damage, that breaks it quicker, but jumping and using it, while not as powerful, will allow you to prolong its usefulness. Again, more strategy, because the health of the weapon doesn’t hurt its damage output. It’s just as strong with full health as half.
While scouring the mansion for people to help, you’ll come across floating icons that house one of 3 things: an item, nothing, and a VIV (Very Important Victim). OK, I made that last one up, but only slightly. You have to time your button press in order to access a reward. If you happen to get the VIP and are able to save them, they treat you with an item to use. For instance, Igor the butler up in the last picture gives you a key to the shed that houses more victims as well as a great weapon. Do your best to help the people out!!
One thing that I think definitely helps this game is the fact it uses the speaker on the controller, something I am all for and wished more games did on PS4. Various sounds shoot out of there, from maniacal laughter, to walkie-talkie chatter, to sounds from a specific room in the mansion. It’s really cool stuff, and it’s very much appreciated here. It makes the sound design even more cool to me.
Some of the special items aren’t just for opening doors. One is a screen-clearing cat attack. Something I could never get the timing right to use, because I either used it by accident (you press down and square to activate) or used it too soon. Some are definitely more useful than others, but, I don’t think anyone would turn a single one of them down.
OK, so, I’ve gone over a lot of player stuff so far, but for the rest of the game, what’s the end goal? Well, as I said, you need to rescue 100 people. So what happens when you do that? Does the game end? Nope. You’re then tasked with setting up bombs throughout to destroy the evil monsters for good. Located in various rooms around the mansion are places just waiting for the chance to be the area of destruction. Again, all this seems simple, right? Ah, but there’s the rub. Each room in the mansion, also has health. And it’s your job to replenish it throughout your time there. How do you do that? By killing, of course!!
Over time, as I said, the game gets much tougher. And part of that is not only because you’re running around trying to save people in various rooms that are sometimes hard to reach, but that also means more monsters flood the rooms. Once it gets to be too much for a room, they start to lose health, and you now have to decide how long you can allow it to happen. Do you take the trail of victims with you down 3 floors, hoping they don’t get murdered along the way, or do you go up one floor, drop them off with the helicopter, and try your hardest to get down to the room that’s about to collapse? It’s a tough choice. Oh, I forgot to mention, 3 more rooms just became majorly unstable while you spent that 3 seconds deciding. Once 4 rooms “die”, it’s game over. So you not only have your health to watch, but you have to watch 20+ rooms’ health, too. Don’t you wish you fell asleep before you saw that commercial, Reg?
If you’re halfway decent at the game, you’ll play out a run that lasts at least 20-30 minutes. Within that time, you may not even make it to the 100 rescue goal. Then again, you might, only to have the 4th room implode just as you left the helipad with the bombs. It’s all very frustrating, and the difficulty can be BRUTAL if you make it that far. However, if you have to stop for whatever reason, thankfully, there’s a wonderful save feature. You can just pause and save your game to come back later. Take that stupid arcades that stole my quarters because my mom told me it was time to leave, even though I was finally on level 4 for the first time AND HAD THE HIGHEST SCORE I EVER GOT. I HATE YOU MOM!!
Speaking of high scores, this game is obviously made for them. Money accumulation is the name of the game (theoretically) and that’s what you see in the Hall of Fame section of the main menu. Track local high scores, you versus your friends, or where you stand against the whole entire world. Psshhh… The local arcades couldn’t do that, the jerks…
Trophies/Achievements in this game are pretty difficult and/or time-consuming to get, so if you like a challenge, this is the game for you. But, unlike most games, getting them gives you in-game bonus rewards via the trophy room. I won’t spoil what they do (mostly because I don’t have all of them to know what they all do), so you can have a bit of a neat discovery when you play. Use them. You earned it.
While this isn’t a job I’d personally want to take on, I’m glad Reggie did, because if he didn’t, I wouldn’t get to watch him try and fail so often, because that’s really fun to do. The brutal ramping up of difficulty, the swarms of enemies that make it hard for you to catch your breath, the race against the clock while constantly juggling so much of the need to heal and rescue… The whole thing can be majorly frustrating. I died. A lot. A LOT, a lot. I didn’t care at the end of the night, because I had a bloody good time doing it. Oh, and if you get the chance, add him as a friend on Facebook. I’m sure he needs some cheering up, or sound advice, and who knows? You could end up needing to be rescued one day, sitting there, scared, wondering who you gonna call? Reggie. You call Reggie Venkman. I hope you went to the ATM first…
My Night Job is available now on PlayStation 4 for $7.99 with a 20% off bonus for Plus members until 5/31/16. It’s also available on Steam for $7.99. A code was provided by the publisher, bitComposer Interactive for the purpose of this review.
Yes, I’m aware Peter Venkman is from the popular kids cartoon called “The Ghostbusters” that featured a talking gorilla. What do you take me for? An idiot?