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Review: Joe's Diner (Wii U eShop)

Message reputation : 100% (2 votes)
Wii U eShop Review

Joindots & UIG Entertainment presents
JOE'S DINER
A VIS-Games production

Wii U Version by SilentFuture

EU-Release: 2016-02-04
Price: 7,99€

NA-Release: 2016-01-28
Price: $6.99

Website



OPEN 24 HOURS

Open 24 hours but you'll never see a customer during your nightshifts. What you will see (and hear) though, is the haunting of a poltergeist. So why not quit the job in Joe's Diner after your first night shift? This is just one of the questions that will tremble your mind while playing Joe's Diner and we'll try to find an answer in this review.

Upon starting a new game a little intro explains the story. You take the nightshift in a shabby pub on the road of some deserted highway for 30 days because the owner is on vacation. It's called Joe's Diner and it's built on the graveyard of an old Native American tribe. Two lost souls were the leaders of rivaling clans that were always in battle. One of them is a silly, naughty one trying to make noises in the living world to wake the other one up. The other one is even more problematic as he goes for the kill in the real world when being pulled out of his dreams. And the victim will be you.

The first stage explains the controls in a few text messages and then you'll be able to move around inside the Diner in a first person view. There's the entrance area with the bar, lots of seats and tables for customers, a tv, a jukebox, a telephone, a fryer, and so on. The setting and atmosphere seem alright. The title screen music and presentation were promising enough. But before you even pick up the first item from one of the tables, you have to work around a framerate that's lagging at 10-15fps and movements that are limited to classic, but very sluggish analog controls. A quick glance into the options menu reveals: there's absolutely no control configuration. Even more tragically, they missed the chance to use Wiimote pointer controls or GamePad motion controls, which both are better control methods for a game that is originally played with a mouse. Developers that make first person games on Wii U should have taken notice of Metroid Prime Trilogy and Splatoon already, slow analog controls are not the standard for first person games on Nintendo consoles anymore - even if this game ran at 60fps - we've moved on from that in 2007. A short relief is the run button (ZL) but it doesn't help enough, it's still like wading knee-deep through honey. Moving around corners is like fighting a poltergeist already sitting in your neck. It really is that bad.


So, as we crawl through the back of the Diner we find a break room, an office space, and separate restrooms for men and women. Nothing much to do here except for objects that a poltergeist can activate and a couple of clocks from where you can read the time - a shift begins at 10pm and ends at 6am but the in-game minutes are ticking away like seconds, that's just a few minutes per nightshift in realtime.

Back in the front behind the desk we have the kitchen which seems really run down. That's the place where you find your best friend for the rest of the game: the garbage can. It will be the object you'll visit the most - because you're here to work. And your work is nothing but running back and forth between trash and trashcan. The best thing: You can only pick up one item at a time. One empty bottle of wine, then back to the garbage can before you can take a plate with fries, or the milkshake that's on the same table. It seems like you're not only limited in your eyes and legs, but also in your arms. And the arms really have it in them. Opening doors and picking up trash from the floor is a fiddly and unnecessary time consuming chore in this game, and there's no cursor or crosshair so you'll have to center everything you want to use in the middle of the screen.

Long before you can get this slowmotion-fest down, something somewhere in the Diner suddenly makes a noise: the fridge that suddenly buzzes, or the mobile phone that suddenly beeps, and the noise meter at the bottom of the screen tilts into the red area. That doesn't mean anything good, because if it's too loud it's Game Over and a picture flashes up, one I didn't even recognize the first time. Is it a spoiler to say it's basically the unscariest thing about the whole game? Much scarier is the fact that when you're Game Over you have to press a button to go back to the main menu that takes 20 seconds to load, then click on Load Game, then scroll down the list to your last shift, then wait another 40 seconds for the level to load. This is a bad joke. The game is loading the freaking same location every time from scratch. 40 seconds to wait for a small area that provides 3-5 minutes of repetitive sluggish gameplay. If the graphics were unbelievable, the game would make a point, but the graphics are just ok, and they're a noticable downgrade from the PC version. Though the difference is hefty in comparison to a better-looking PC version that only takes 5 seconds to load a level.


So the noise meter is swinging, and one of the things you have to learn are the objects that are actually noteworthy and not just static, just so you can get there quickly to switch them off. While the sounds are decent, the stereo and 3D effect is not. Noises don't get muted by walls and that's a huge problem in the beginning. You hear something very loud that seems right next to you and search for it but it's actually behind a wall in another room. It's very irritating, especially the objects in the rest rooms. With just stereo sound it should be easy and obvious just by listening, but for whatever reason in this game you can't rely on the direction of where the sound is coming from and always enter the wrong room. Thankfully none of the poltergeist objects are shuffled around so eventually you learn where you have to go just by the structure of the sound. No audio coming from the GamePad is just the icing on a rotten cake, what is the point of playing it  off-tv when you cannot hear anything, in a game where survival depends on hearing everything?

I don't know what the real gamebreaker is but it surely isn't the throwaway horror story that's only mentioned in the intro and is then completely forgotten. So is it the repetition of 30 stages that are only minimally changed each time, with the only diversity being just more frequent poltergeist activity and a small selection of senseless item spawns that make a loud sound when you step on them?

Or is it the broken graphics engine and bad controls that makes everything more stressful and difficult early on? The original PC game is relatively easy up to stage 20 due to a fluid framerate, mouse controls, and working sound. And even a Game Over isn't that big of a punishment because 10 seconds later you're back in the game for another try. On Wii U it gets almost unbeatable from stage 10 on. I promise you the timer will run out and the spirit of the killer indian will get your life many times - you'll need an extra portion of luck to have the ghost leaving you alone or at least only activating objects near you to waste minimal time.


Joe's Diner on Wii U is a bad port of a mediocre game. It is only of value to trash horror fans or masochists. So to answer the question in the beginning of this review: Is there a reason to come back after your first night shift? No, there wasn't even a reason for a first shift. You must be crazy to take the job of a clean up guy in a raunchy truckstop diner with hundreds of miles of godforsaken desert around it! If you want a good Wii U horror game for cheap I recommend getting Year Walk, Slender: The Arrival, Master Reboot, and Lone Survivor: The Director's Cut which all scored 8/10 or higher. And if you want a good clean-up game get Animal Crossing: New Leaf or Chibi-Robo for the Gamecube. This is one to avoid.

SKTTRSKORE: 3/10

Written by SKTTR on 7th March 2016.


Last edited by SKTTR on March 7th 2016, 4:33 am; edited 2 times in total
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Comments

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@SKTTR Slender: The Arrival didn't score anything because it hasn't been reviewed yet. After you publish your review of Grumpy Reaper do you think that you could review Slendy? Wink

Oh and excellent review as always, my friend. Wink
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@SKTTR this sounds so awful, thanks for the warning. Smile
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on March 7th 2016, 4:03 amSKTTR
Message reputation : 100% (2 votes)
@Ichigofan: I should have probably said "which SKTTRSKORED an 8/10 or higher" because that's the score I would give it if I was to write a review. I'll check my calendar if there's time to squeeze it in. I still need to beat The Grumpy Reaper, and the big problem is it crashes frequently, randomly, every single time I played the game. After an hour or so it hangs up. It's probably ok to play just 5 stages then turn it off, but anything longer than that and it seems you risk the game to freeze. I'm halfway through, and I hope I can finish it in the next few days.
PS. I updated the review. Forgot to add that no sound is coming from the GamePad.

@Himawari Chan: It unfortunately is. In its present state it's just extremely repetitive and unfun work mixed with a good dose of frustration and pain. But it gets better if you imagine you're playing a handicapped person, moving around in a wheelchair, with only one arm, one eye, and half-deaf.
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Nice review @SKTTR. Smile
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