There’s nothing like working a night shift alone in a diner until 6am while being haunted by Native American spirits, is there? Five Nights At Freddie’s got the system down and became one of the most popular horror games ever and now Joe’s Diner is coming to our consoles and it most definitely does not live up to anything it claims or hoped to be. We play games to be amused, we play horror games to be scared and we play new games to be amazed by how different they might be – there was a lack of amusement, fright and amazement while playing Joe’s Diner and while I usually say that games that disappointed me had some potential to them, I just don’t feel like Joe’s Diner did; so it’s time for some brutal honesty.
To begin, the premise of the game feels unoriginal. It feels like the developers wanted to create a game that could match and compete with the FNAF franchise, and while I applaud them for attempting to do such a thing, it felt almost like a rip-off. Work in a food establishment until 6am on a night shift where you’re the only employee? Sounds familiar, except instead of animatronic animals that come to life at night to hunt you down and kill you, you’ve got the spirits of two Native American chieftains not coming after you, but instead coming to the diner to annoy one another. The plot in a nutshell is this: one dead guy likes the quiet, another dead guy hates the other dead guy and makes as much noise in the diner as possible to annoy his rival dead guy and you have to keep it quiet.
What I don’t understand though is why on earth you’re doing a night shift. Sorry for the run of FNAF comparisons, but at least in the Five Nights games you’re there for a reason: you’re a security guard working the night shift – lots of companies have night security. The question I have though is, what kind of establishment (no matter how creepy and in the middle of the nowhere it is) has their cleaning staff work through the night clearing tables?! That’s your job by the way, keep the place quiet and clean the tables. It just doesn’t make sense to me, and it feels like the developers came up with the location and the Indian Burial Ground plot then thought “oh wait, we need a reason for the player to be there… let’s make the clean the tables.”
The graphics are okay, and it’s nice being able to explore and walk around, but it’s nothing special. Players won’t look at this horror game and compare its graphics to the likes other horrors like Until Dawn, but they are what they are and they’re decent enough. The colours through the game work well for what it is. The setting is grotty and dirty but so much so that the place looks almost abandoned, and that’s not actually the case with Joe’s Diner. From what I can tell from the whole “clearing the tables” gameplay, it’s actually a reasonably popular stop for travellers down Route 7 where it’s located, so I feel like the day staff would try and keep the place tidy. Who knows though, really? Why would anyone open a Diner built on an Indian Burial Ground? So many questions.
In regards to audio, it was pretty decent. The music had the appropriate amount of creepiness, the sound effects were consistent and decent. They worked for the game and overall were scary enough to keep me somewhat engaged while I played. I was even scared a couple of times by the way the game sounded, so they got that right at least. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m easily scared so a few aspects of Joe’s Diner did work on me, the sounds most of all, but I didn’t come out of the experience feeling freaked out, I just came out of it bored and wanted it to be over. It’s a shame, but it’s the truth. The narration at the beginning of the game was just horrendous though – maybe it was the script or maybe it was the actor, I’m not sure, but it was cheesy and it was too much. Having the entire plot explained with a mediocre voice over as soon as you press ‘New Game’ doesn’t give the game the jump start that it needed.
So, the usual question: is it worth buying? No, no it’s not. It felt like the developers tried too hard to match what FNAF did, while at the same time it feels like they didn’t try hard enough to come up with an original idea. It’s not very scary, it’s not very engaging and it’s not very fun. Don’t waste your money on poor gameplay and a mediocre plot when there are so many better horror games out there for a much cheaper price.
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