I often wish I was dead. Not because I am depressed or hate my life, I just get bored with life sometimes. I think death could be an exciting adventure. I could use my spectral body to travel the universe, uncovering secrets and solving mysteries that elude the living. I could experience far more than one can in the finite time we have as corporeal beings with limited resources. Alas, I know in my heart death would be no different than life. A wise person once said that we have a tool that has access to all the collective knowledge of the world, and we use this tool to look at pictures of cats and argue with strangers. In the early stages of death, I would start out ambitious with grand dreams and aspirations. While I failed at this in life, I will make something of myself in death. This period of being a go getter will most likely be short lived (pun not intended), and soon I will use my ethereal nonbody to commit pointless acts of vandalism, play pranks, cause mischief, and generally make a nuisance of myself terrifying people.
So after this seemingly pointless and unnecessarily long and drawn out intro, I present to you the review of Haunt The House Terrortown. This is a game where you are a ghost, like a nameless white sheet you would see causing trouble in a Scooby Doo cartoon, except you are actually a ghost and not some guy behind a projector with a phonograph playing Halloween records trying to bankrupt someone for their own profit, who would have gotten it away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling kids. This is an interesting game. I cannot think of any other game I played where I was a ghost and the primary objective is scare everyone enough that they run away, leaving the ghost so that he may be alone in his freshly vacated ghost town. If you wish to hit me now, your feelings are completely justified. Even I thought that one was bad.
The plot of this game is vague, it mentions something at the beginning of reclaiming all that is lost. This brings us to scaring people out of a cruse ship, mewseum, hospitle, and theater. Those aren’t typos, folks. The backstory I came up with to fill in the gaps in the plot was you were a bad speller in life and were tormented mercilessly by your peers. You have returned from the dead to terrorize and, in a few cases, even kill your tormentors so that you will be able to stay in your ghost town undisturbed, hidden away in safety from the cruelty of others, only to eventually learn that eternity in an afterlife spent in secluded isolation is its own kind of prison. In reality, this game does not need an elaborate plot to be good. You are a ghost. Ghosts hate the living and want them to go away. So they try to scare them to make them leave. At least that is the lesson I took from the classic cinematic masterpiece Beetlejuice. You control our little malicious little Anti-Casper with arrow keys or the mouse and use the buttons to possess various objects to have them do random things to scare people. Some of these are rather harmless: opening and closing cabinets, making wine splash out of a bottle, smashing a double bass, playing a pipe organ and so on. Other people don’t get scared, you have to kill them. A poor deep sea diver never saw that anchor crashing down on his head, and I bet that guy enjoying the dinosaur bone exhibit never expected that Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton to chow down on him. My frightening antics caused a few people to jump to their deaths. Perhaps this is karmic retribution. Perhaps our orthographically challenged apparition was driven to suicide after years of abuse and is seeking vengeance. Perhaps I am putting way too much thought into trying to make a cute game with macabre undertones out to be significantly darker than it is meant to be.
This is a short game. I was able to complete all four areas in under an hour, but this is not meant to be some grand epic where you spend more time advancing the plot with cutscenes than you do playing the game. This is a simple yet fun pick up and play game where repeated playthroughs can be just as enjoyable as the first. In addition, while I have not played it, there is a free holiday themed expansion the programmers were kind enough to offer. The gameplay is repetitive. Each level has different things to possess but they all play the same way. You float around, possessing objects and make them do things to scare the meandering people. You have a terror meter that gets filled whenever you scare someone. As this grows the overall atmosphere of the level becomes scarier, and this allows you to do more terrifying things with each object. I scared the majority of the people and only killed a couple people each level, but maybe with some experimenting you can kill more or less people on repeated playthroughs. Overall, while short and repetitive, the game is rather fun. The music and sound effects are appropriate for the atmosphere and I like the cartoonish graphics and animations; they succeed at being both humorous and morbid at the same time. This is a rather unique game, and I can see myself revisiting it from time to time for some short bursts of entertainment. Follow me on Twitter