For what it might lack in content Haunt the House makes up for with tons of unique animations and a wealth of options for scaring people out of their mind.
Rather than running away in fear of what might lurk behind you Haunt the House turns the tables and allows you to possess inanimate objects in an effort to cause paranormal activity and scare away the residents of one of four “houses” in the city.
Haunt the House contains four locations throughout the city that each hold twenty people. Ranging from a museum to a theater the game showcases tons of different objects for you to possess that each hold a few totally unique animations. The goal of the game is to possess these objects and do whatever you can to scare the residents of each house. For instance you might take control of a table that spins around on its own or perhaps you’ll cause a piano to play music with no one else around. Some of the more basic options that you have are lifted right out of your typical ghost movie while some of the more extravagant methods of paranormal activity are both unique and really cool to discover.
In each house in the city you’ll need to build your scare meter. As you scare more people the meter will build allowing for more methods of haunting. One example comes in a mermaid statue that you can possess. With a lower meter you can cause the statue to pull at her hair and move around a bit. While a larger scare meter will give you the option to raise a body of water from under the ground which will cause people to run away in terror. Most objects at least have two methods of scaring people. Typically the first will result in something more subtle while the option that requires a filled meter will result in a much larger event. I think for me a lot of my enjoyment from Haunt the House came in discovering every different animation that each object in the game has. The animation is all done really well and it’s clear that a lot of time was put into making everything you do feel unique. Unfortunately because of this multiple playthroughs might not be as enjoyable as you’ll have already seen everything. On top of that, even though the game does score you at the end, there’s no leaderboards so you might not find any good reason to return. Considering the game will take around forty minutes to complete this did leave me wishing there was more than just one town to haunt. Perhaps if more towns were released I’d excitedly hop back in to check out what new objects I could possess.
Haunt the House has a really fantastic look to it that, as Chris mentioned in his impressions last week, does feel familiar to games like Mutant Blobs Attack. Despite this cartoony look the game is actually really dark. While most of the time your scares will simply result in people running away there are in fact much darker results that can come from the actions you take. There are a few specific actions in the game that will cause a person to die. Their ghost will then fly away to the clock tower that enables you to choose which ghost to pay as. (To my knowledge this is simply an aesthetic choice and doesn’t effect gameplay.) In one scenario I caused the skeleton of a dinosaur to eat an innocent bystander. In some other cases you might actually cause the person to jump out of the window to their death. While I’m not certain how each result effects your score the game does keep track of suicides, deaths and those who just run away.
Honestly I fell in love with the concept behind Haunt the House the moment I heard about it. For the most part I think the game delivers on it’s premise and has left me wanting more scenarios in the future. I can see people developing some form of high level strategies to maximize the terror that you cause. There is one thing that really bugged me though. Sometimes I felt like there are clearly something going on in the background determining what scared people and how many times it scared them. For example sometimes I’d move a table around the room that might scare people at first but then they’d just walk by a FLYING TABLE as if it was no big deal. I felt like there were quite a few times that I had people walking by some really freaky stuff without even batting an eye. I’m not sure why that happened but, and this didn’t stop me from really enjoying the game, it did kind of bug me.
All in all Haunt the House is really cool and a great start to the PSM platform in 2013. It’s not perfect and I do wish there was more than just the one scenario that you get with the game but it’s totally something you should play.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
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