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Joe's Diner Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Between the poor gameplay, missing camera options, confusing sound effects and all the repetition, I found it incredibly hard to keep the job going for the full 30 days. The difficulty may ramp up, but it's never in an interesting or compelling way. You're stuck playing through the same location over and over until you either serve your time or pop in a better game. The truth is, you're better off just working at a real diner, because at least there you'll earn tips. Rating: 10%
Joe's Diner
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  • Review Score:

  • D-
Sometimes you can just tell that you're going to hate that new job from the very first day. That's how I felt playing Joe's Diner, a brand new horror game where the goal is to bus tables as quietly as possible. It expertly simulates the joyless frustration of being trapped in a job you truly can't stand. But instead of being fun or scary, it's just a monotonous waste of time with terrible gameplay and a repetitive theme.

You play a guy who has been sent to work at Joe's Diner for a month as part of some sort of "vacation replacement." What you don't realize going in is that this particular eatery is located on the top of an old Native American burial ground, which ends up being a bigger issue than you realize. As it turns out, the diner sits above the final resting ground of two warring chieftains, and each night Laughing Bird does his best to annoy his rival, Grim Feather.


As the only person on the night shift, it's your job to clear all of the tables and keep the little restaurant as quiet as possible. This is tough, since Laughing Bird is constantly trying to sabotage your work by calling the diner, running the printer and boiling the water in the tea kettle. You only have an eight hour shift (or the equivalent of four real world minutes) to locate all of the dirty dishes and quiet the noisy diner. But watch out, if things get too chaotic, Grim Feather will return and cut your vacation short.

What makes your job tricky is that you can only pick up one item at a time. No matter if it's a wine bottle or plate full of fries, you will have to pick up each dish one at a time and walk them to the kitchen. This leads to a lot of going back and forth, constantly shutting off the distractions and locating the dirty tables. And with only a few minutes to get all this in, you won't have time for a smoke break.

Of course, the real enemy here isn't some old Native American chieftain, but rather the horrible design decisions made by the developer. Let's start with the sound effects, which is a huge part of how you play this game. We're never actually told what sound effect connects to what item, which sends us on a mad hunt through the diner turning everything on and off looking for the solution. I failed my first day multiple times because I had no clue how to get the sounds to stop, and eventually had to turn to a YouTube video to see what I was supposed to do.

Joe's Diner (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

One of the reasons why it's so difficult finding what to interact with is because the sounds don't get louder or softer as you walk around the diner. They always stay the same level, which means the sound could be coming from literally anywhere. You'll eventually figure out what everything corresponds to, but even then, there was one sound effect I could never quiet. I've been up and down that tiny restaurant a thousand times and have no idea what I'm looking for.

It certainly doesn't help that some of these sounds are nearly identical. For example, the two bathroom blow dryers sound exactly like the vacuum in the main dining area. You'll also need to put up with three different phones and a couple of appliances with a similar hum. The best sounds are the ones that are the most distinct, like the jukebox or the cell phone in the kitchen.

The other big problem I ran into is that the game doesn't support an inverted camera, which made playing this game almost impossible for me. It's hard enough getting around a diner filled with chairs and tables, so throwing this added handicap into the mix made the experience that much more frustrating. I'm not going to lie, I honestly don't understand how you can release a first-person game in 2017 and not have an option for inverted camera controls.

Joe's Diner (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

To make matters even worse, Joe's Diner does this thing where you need to be looking directly at the item to interact with it. You can't be looking in its general direction or a little close, it needs to be directly lined up, highlighting the item letting you know it's ready to be used. This makes simple things like opening the kitchen door or picking up an empty bottle of wine a real chore. It's especially bad since there isn't a marker for you to use, so it's not always easy to line things up. You'll lose a lot of valuable time just stumbling around trying to pick up a plate or turning off a running faucet.

Between the poor gameplay, missing camera options, confusing sound effects and all the repetition, I found it incredibly hard to keep the job going for the full 30 days. The difficulty may ramp up, but it's never in an interesting or compelling way. You're stuck playing through the same location over and over until you either serve your time or pop in a better game. The truth is, you're better off just working at a real diner, because at least there you'll earn tips.
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