Typical. You aren’t waiting for a “haunted server” game and then two come along at once.
While Connection Haunted shares a premise with No Players Online, both of which pretend to be multiplayer games, this Nintendo Switch title is a marginally more conventional take on the unconventional. Stumbling across an empty capture the flag server, you decide to rack up a few points because, you know, there’s no-one there to stop you. And you can at least say that you were your team’s Most Valuable Player. What could possibly go wrong?
Since you’re toting a gun with infinite ammo, you’d think Connection Haunted would be low on terror. But the familiar setting – it starts you off in a mine level – dials up the fear factor. If you’ve ever set up a private server just so you could practice, you’ve had that same strange itch at the back of your head. Sure, no-one else should be here but… what if you heard a ping, or saw a name flashing up on the screen, and suddenly you weren’t alone?
True to form, other “players” start turning up, and things take a turn for the strange. But even before that, Connection Haunted had me thoroughly on edge. It plays on your urge to investigate, to explore every nook and cranny of level; in a shooter, that’s a positive boon, but here you’re just asking for trouble.
I’m loathe to spoil any of Connection Haunted’s disturbing surprises, but it really capitalises on how odd 90s polygon graphics were. Think the original Lara Croft looks strange, with her angular face and pointed bosoms? Imagine if she’d locked you in a dark warehouse and was running about trying to eat your face. That’s the vibe you get with Connection Haunted and it really pays off.
Connection Haunted rarely lets up; there are jump scares, sure, but it’s the pervasive sense of unease that really sells this scare-em-up, aided by some neat audio and visual shenanigans. Your imagination becomes your own worst enemy; when a household object materialises inside the mine, you’ll pump half a crate’s worth of ammo into it just to be sure it’s not going to morph into some oozing behemoth. And then you turn back to see it skittering away on spider-legs (this may or may not be a lie).
Connection Haunted isn’t a long game; before it hit the Nintendo Switch it began life on Itch.io, which typically favours short experiences. And while you can play it on the go, you’ll be missing out; Connection Haunted is a great little horror outing that deserves to be experienced on the big screen. Besides which, screaming in terror tends to annoy your fellow passengers, though it does guarantee you a double seat.