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The Janitor (PC) artwork

The Janitor (PC) review

"Ok broomer"

Stay a while and listen... to this review. Audio generated by AWS (Joanna voice) with No Ads.

The Janitor (PC) image

The Janitor experience begins when you read the title. Granted, janitorial work is occasionally gross, but unless you're mopping floors at a torture chamber, it's seldom frightening. Nevertheless, plenty of horror stories revolve around janitors, custodians, and/or clean-up crews, so it's reasonable to hope that this one could deliver.

Reasonable, but not great...

After booting up this puppy, you might expect an intro to provide context to the strange surroundings in which you find yourself. What's so special about the janitor in this case? Are you the janitor, or does the job title perhaps belong to a serial killer you're trying to outwit? Sadly, the game doesn't tell you. You simply drop into a creepy, ruined building without much ado, only to hear someone over an intercom say something along the lines of, "Be quiet, it's all going to be fine." We're already off to a swimming start...

What else do you do at this point except explore? You open doors and behold pretty much what you expected: blood smeared in random places, forgettable scenery, and a random, weird statue in the middle of it all. However, all the rifling through drawers and checking rooms in the world doesn't advance any sort of plot. No cutscenes fire up, no one utters a line of dialogue... Nothing. The only hint you receive comes in the form of a gurgling growl you occasionally hear. Understandably, you write off this nuisance as a another disembodied sound effect used as a disposable scare, at least until you come face-to-face with the main antagonist:

The Janitor (PC) image

An extra-tall chimpanzee made out of gingerbread...

Okay, just what the hell is going on? Am I a janitor? Is the ginger-ape a janitor? Did the simian cookie eat the janitor? Have I been sent to recover their remains? Does this product even involve a janitor?

I went back to the game's Steam page to read the summary for added perspective. Apparently, the protagonist has accepted the aforementioned position, and is currently working at an abandoned asylum that was once under military control. However, on his first night on the job, he encounters a government experiment gone wrong: Chimps Ahoy.

And yeah, none of that makes sense. Who hires a janitor for an abandoned facility? Who applies for or takes on a job like that? "Yeah, dude, I just got a job at Pine Crest Psychiatric Hospital! I'm going to be scrubbing toilets and vacuuming floors for absolutely no one!" The only thing I can figure is that the government wanted to feed its little pet and decided to hire a janitor to go be their sacrificial lamb. That still makes no sense, though. Why not just kidnap a random victim? Why leave a traceable paper trail?

More than anything, you end up overthinking the ramifications of the plot, when really the game's content consists of little more than "run away from the creature, collect items, and go through two doors."

The Janitor (PC) image

The campaign offers little guidance from the outset. Outside of a single walkthrough provided by a Steam user, the only clue you obtain emanates from an easily missed message that floats above a repair tool attached to wall near the beginning. By "easily missed," I mean "it's black, tiny, hanging in the most arbitrary place, blending in with the environment, and shrouded in darkness." Incredibly small text floats above it as you approach, though it's nearly impossible to see if your flashlight isn't aimed right at it. Even then, it disappears almost as quickly as it arrives.

From there, you must find three other repair kits, all in a very particular order. In other words, if you happen to be in the area where the third package spawns, you won't be able to pick it up until you've nabbed the second one. This setup makes things a bit tricky because the monster doesn't always attack at opportune times. One second you're all alone, the next you're getting thumped by Bobo the Biscuit. Here's the thing, though: you can easily outrun the beast without breaking a sweat. Not only does this fearless custodian possess infinite stamina and an impressive jump, but his opponent merely plods along at a gentle pace and can be easily goaded into a remote part of the premises. Suffice to say that once you get the mechanics down, the opposition poses almost no threat.

Eventually, you locate all of the tools and find a door that leads you to a maze of corridors, various pieces of furniture, and random sound effects that make up the basement. Your objective here is to locate an exit, which you accomplish by moseying down every walkway and checking every door to see if it does anything. Meanwhile, Cookie Monster slowly pads after you. To boot, he becomes as easily lost in this labyrinth as you. Hell, I think I only bumped into him a whole twice while I searched the massive place. Apparently someone didn't get the memo about confined spaces being more effective for evoking fear than long, spacious hallways...

The Janitor (PC) image

After tirelessly searching for and discovering an egress, a quick, one-sentence epilogue greets you and the ride is over. If you're lucky, you'll have this one wrapped up in under thirty minutes.

Though the campaign is brief, that's still half an hour you could've spent on a more significant task. Instead, you've devoted that time to flaccid, hackneyed frights like bloody scrawlings on the walls or mysterious moans in dark rooms. You spent that tiny chunk of time running away from a toothless foe, engaged in a tedious, unimaginative campaign. Granted, the game remains stable, which is a huge step up from your standard Steam horror fare, but it still doesn't offer much more than shrug-worthy material that couldn't scare a skittish child.

Lastly, what is it with indie developers and abandoned asylums? It's the most on-the-nose "scary" setting you can utilize. Sure, it worked for "Session 9," but that movie carried a deeper narrative than "oh no, don't get eaten by monstrous thing #54786453486." You want to impress someone with a creepy locale? Then try examining places that haven't been done to death. For as much as I criticized One Late Night ages ago, the game at least had the gall the try something different by dropping you into an office. Hell, one film adaptation I recently loved transpired in a radio studio. Truly, with a fertile imagination, you can transform even the brightest, most unfrightening places into a corner of Hell. Just look at "Midsommar..."

Unsurprisingly, The Janitor is yet another item on a lengthy list of banal, shallow horror games. As with so many lackluster scary titles on Steam, this one operates as if all such a title requires is a rundown building and an inhuman character model. Horror doesn't have to be deep or meaningful, but it should at least strive to offer more compelling content than running away from generic monsters in similarly generic environs.

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (March 27, 2023)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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If you enjoyed this The Janitor review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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honestgamer posted March 30, 2023:

I don't know how you came up with that clever tagline, but I'll never be able to live with myself if I don't post to express my appreciation for it. So... there you go. I appreciate it!
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overdrive posted March 31, 2023:

I'm just endlessly impressed by how Joe's done about 1000 reviews for low-quality horror titles, yet it never gets tiresome reading him tearing into their lack of actual scares and overly-predictable formulaic styles. I would not be upset if developers lacking in skill and imagination keep churning games like this out for eternity and he continues to feel compelled to write about every single one he unearths.

Out of kindness, though, I will allow for 1 out of every 15 or so to be an actual good game that impresses him. Gotta keep that carrot dangling in front of him!
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JoeTheDestroyer posted April 05, 2023:

I knew you'd appreciate the tagline!

Thank you! I think it helps if I don't do a bunch of them all at one time, because then they tend to run together. Regretfully/Thankfully, I encounter a bunch that I pretty could never do because they're so broken that you can't advance past a certain point (e.g. Epsilon Corp, Nightmare, etc.).

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