I’m a little late getting to it: its release on Friday 13th October meant Haunted House was the perfect game to jump into in the run-up to Halloween. But it doesn’t matter: this remake of Atari’s classic, developed by Orbit Studio, is well worth playing any time of the year, not just spooky season.
A cutesy adventure where stealth is your best friend, Haunted House is all about saving your friends and uncle from, well, a haunted house. It’s a seriously haunted house, it turns out: practically every room is teeming with ghosts and ghouls of varying varieties. God help the estate agent who has to try and sell this one day.
Best described as a roguelike, each run of Haunted House lasts until you die. Succumb to any one of the ghosts, and you’ll find yourself back at the entrance to the house, forced to start from scratch. Thankfully, you’ll earn some gems along the way that allow you to purchase permanent upgrades to make future runs a little easier.
You can attack ghosts, but only by shining a torch on them. It’s a fairly slow process, and if a ghost sees you, they’re going to charge at you, doing way more damage to you than you can to them. Stealth is the answer, then. You can either sneak past sleeping ghosts, avoid stepping into the path of a moving ghost, or quietly get behind them, which allows you to perform a powerful stealth attack.
You have a dedicated button to sneak, which comes in very handy, but you’ll still need to watch where you’re walking: your footsteps might be silent, but there are plenty of wobbly tables that can be easily knocked over. Catch the attention of a ghost and they’re coming straight for you.
Thankfully, Haunted House is pretty generous when it comes to throwing chests at you, many of which contain useful abilities. My personal favourite is a ghost disguise: stick it on, and you’ll blend right in, with nothing stopping to attack you. It only lasts a short window of time, though. Other abilities include traps for ghosts, stun devices and a pair of slippers that make even your normal walking speed super quiet.
Without a doubt it’s a shame you can’t simply go all-out with an arsenal of powerful ghostbusting tools. But Haunted House’s focus on sneaking and stealth sets it apart from other roguelike games out there. As fun as waving around a knock-off Proton Blaster would be, it would make this spookfest just like any other shooter. I’m not normally a big fan of stealth, but even I can see the appeal here. And landing successful stealth attacks feels seriously cool.
A fun take on the roguelike genre, and yet another successful ressurection of an old Atari property, Haunted House is well worth picking up – even outside of Halloween. Its cartoon-like art style is charming, and – dare I say it – its sneaky stealth mechanics are surprisingly enjoyable.