Published on May 9th, 2022 | by Joseph Saulnier0
Janitor Bleeds Offers 90s Nostalgia
Thirsty for some nineties nostalgia? Big fan of horror? How about first-person games? Well step right up, have I got a game for you. Janitor Bleeds is just the game to satisfy all your first-person, nostalgic horror cravings.
Out for about a month now, and already receiving positive reviews, you start Janitor Bleeds as a person with no name looking for help after being involved in a car crash. As you search, you come across an abandoned arcade, and its lone working game, succinctly named “Janitor”. I don’t know why you’d stop to play an arcade game after having possibly sustained life-threatening injuries from a car crash, but hey… who am I to judge. The thing is, as you begin to play the game, it influences your environment, and a mysterious being starts appearing and stalks and chases you around the arcade. This thing is fast, and you have no hope of defeating it. Hiding is your best option, similar to Hello Neighbor. You quickly find how interwoven your world has become with the “Janitor” as you need to keep playing to keep this being at bay, but also to progress further in the game.
You will find the story of the game told through scattered notes and papers throughout the arcade. You learn about the history of the arcade and more about what is happening with the game and this mysterious entity hunting you. The storytelling is simple, and maybe not as effective as the developers had hoped.
What is not effective is the game’s direction for the player. The setup for the story is lacking, the character action is not really defined. Why not call out for help in the opening of the game as you travel the forest path toward the bright light? Why even go inside the arcade when it is clearly abandoned, thus removing any chance of finding help? Why are you doing any of it? The notes attempt to provide some discourse, but there is not enough structure to give the story a good composition.
While you may not know why you are doing what you are doing, Janitor Bleeds sure takes its job of letting you know you need to take the threat seriously because this thing is hunting you. Early on there is a decent mix of hide and seek with the being and puzzle-solving, getting access to the different tools you will need to move forward. You will need to continue playing the “Janitor” arcade game in order to keep making progress through the game, and items you find can be “transported” into the game to be used to unlock puzzles. In the reverse, you will find keys in the game that you can use in the real world. As mentioned earlier, you will be solving puzzles while being hunted by a creature of some sort. You will attract this being with your actions, such as using your flashlight for extended periods, and it can even sneak up on you while you are playing “Janitor”. You will always get a visual warning when the creature is nearby, giving you time to finish and/or hide. Fortunately, frequent auto-saves by the game will allow you to pick your game back up from very recent progress should you misstep and get caught by the being.
Janitor Bleeds might not be a game with the best graphics, but if the explosion of retro games these days says anything, that really doesn’t matter anymore. You don’t need realistic graphics to be scared, and this game proves that even graphics from the PS1 era, possibly earlier, can still scare the bejeezus out of you. But there are still some issues with the gameplay. For example, why does the dang flashlight always automatically turn on after you finish a puzzle? It’s frustrating trying to get into the habit of quickly turning it off because that thing will get you killed man. But maybe that’s just part of it. You have no idea why you’re doing any of this anyway, why not have a flashlight that weirdly turns on when you finish showing how smart you are.
The lack of story and setup, and the weird nuances with some of the controls and parts of the game (like the flashlight turning on after puzzles) are really holding back this game from being great. The nostalgia is there in the graphics and the sound design, but seemingly having no purpose for doing what you are doing just really brings this down. Currently listed at $12.99 on Steam, this game would be great for those that just love to solve good puzzles, without big care for the reason for doing the puzzles.
2 stars out of 5