MSRP: $4.99 (PC/Mac), $1.99 (iOS/Android)
Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Kindle Fire
Ghost Master is one of my absolute all time favorite games, and I’ve never played anything quite like it, before or since. Well, Haunt the House: Terrortown is nothing nothing like it, but it does have it’s own charm. Although I purchased it on PC, I feel like it might be better suited to mobile devices, so I am glad to see it’s available as an app as well.
Let’s start by talking about what it does right. The music and sound effects are fantastic (I got a little bit of a Nightmare Before Christmas vibe on the North Pole level). Controls are pretty simple, and it has controller support – which I actually preferred the feel of it with the controller. The graphics are lovely, as long as you can get behind the cutesy ghost vibe. And the developers have put out three free bonus levels and have given the soundtrack free to people who have bought the game, which means this $5 casual game is seeing more updates & free bonus content than an lot of AAA titles selling at ten times the price.
The Terror Town level is considered the “main game” and that’s where you’re going to find your tutorial. I wish they had made Terror Town stand out more – I was initially put off by the “scare 80 people” goal and went for one of the other levels with what seemed to be a more manageable goal. As a result of having no clue what I was doing, I bumbled around a lot.
Basically, you play as a ghost, and in order to beat the level, you must scare everyone away. In order to do that, you have to hop in an out of elements of the scenery and manipulate them until you have people fleeing in terror. Initially, you have limited haunting abilities, but as you start to make people feel uncomfortable, more abilities will open up enabling you to get bigger scares. Each level also has special achievements for that map, and you are given a grade based on your time to successful completion.
This is not a complex game, and I don’t think it should be more complicated than it is. However, I spent over thirty minutes haunting random things wherever there happened to be people instead of following them towards the exits, not realizing that the further they go from the spot of the haunting that made them want to leave, the more relaxed they become, and they become more and more likely to return to whatever they were doing instead of fleeing. I also spent an inordinate amount of time in the monkey-with-cymbals toy because, let’s face it, those things are inherently creepy.
For me, Haunt the House: Terrortown falls solidly in the category of Not Bad. It’s a casual game that isn’t really trying to be anything more, and there has probably been an equal amount of content added for free post-release than there was at release time. Achievement hunters and perfectionists that want top scores will easily find their money’s worth even if nothing else gets added.