Adding a little humor and charm to PlayStation Mobile without being overly saccharine, Haunt the House: Terrortown is an enjoyable offering that’s simply hampered by its dearth of longstanding content. The gameplay within Haunt the House is easy to get into and is filled with laughs, yet it does seem to be lacking a sense of skill that would push it over the top in the fun department. Minor gameplay shortcomings aside, there isn’t much to harp on in Haunt the House aside from the small selection of levels, which even then provide a nice amount of fun.
+ Premise is fun and well executed.
+ Art style is perfect for the tone and is one of the most polished games to appear on PlayStation Mobile.
+ Controls are easy since performing ghost possessions is a breeze.
- Content is a bit lacking due to the small selection of levels.
- Gameplay feels a bit underutilized in how things are presented.
At times it can seem like a given project, or a service in this case, can be practically dead due to the lack of info or promotion we receive for it. Usually at the end of the day what makes something a hit no matter what is whether or not people know about it, and in the case of the PlayStation Mobile it seems like not a lot of people know that the service provides quality games.
In some ways it may seem like Sony is either dumping shovelware on PS Mobile to justify releasing titles compatible with Android systems, but Haunt the House: Terrortown shows that truly great, if simply entertaining games, are more than present on Sony’s new platform.
The first game in a long time to enable gamers to scare and frighten people, Haunt the House allowed me to assume the role of a ghost to do what ghosts are most famous for: scaring the crap out of people. Far removed from other ghostly things people may be familiar with, such as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Haunt the House: Terrortown is a hybrid in a way since it provides an experience that’s akin to a puzzle and platforming game.
Taking a simple premise, making people’s eyes bulge out as they scream in horror, Haunt the House: Terrortown takes a rather unique design approach in it’s quasi ghost simulator offerings. Presented as a side-scroller with some rather terrific art design that’s slightly reminiscent of the mastery the folks at Double Fine do, Haunt the House revolves around two things: 1. moving fast and effortlessly as an ethereal ghost would do and 2. Using good timing and what’s nearby to make people bolt like the wind as they scream in horror.
Basically the gameplay of Haunt the House consists of possessing various objects in a given level. Once in possession of an item it’s all about waiting patiently for the hapless people to pass by and spook them when they least expect it. Overall it may not sound like a lot, but given the amount of items within a given stage whether it be a curtain, drawer, wheelchair, or even a T-Rex skeleton, there are a lot of different scenarios to do within the game and in some cases it may not be as easy as it sounds.
The mechanic of actually possessing objects is rather easy since all I had to do was go near an item and press the Cross button. From there I had a few basic actions I could perform, whether it be wobbling a bit, swinging, or even spinning. Haunt the House isn’t as one note as it may sound since new actions are opened up for various items as the terror/fright level for each stage increases. Such a thing of course allows for additional hilarity to ensue such as dropping an anchor on an unsuspecting deep sea worker.
As I played Haunt the House I enjoyed the direct simplicity it offered as it was hard not to be impressed with things. Hopping back and forth between items (the platform like element) and trying to scare large groups of people as they passed by was fun since it’s something we really haven’t seen in a game before. The immediate charm provided in the game didn’t falter as I moved from stage to stage, but in some ways a lack of direct focus within the game became clear.
I didn't grow tired of the ghostly proceedings of Haunt the House since it is an enjoyable game in a carefree sort of way. Instead, I simply began to feel that the way the game was created was almost better than what was delivered to us. That’s not to say the game is a disappointment, but on a gameplay level I simply felt something could’ve been done to perhaps make the experience more enticing.
It’s certainly fun to scare people through item possession, even if their awareness/reaction time is a bit wonky, but the omission of any kind of combo counter or score tracking is kind of a mistake in my mind. Of course it’s possible SFB Games, the developer, wanted to make a more carefree game and for that I won’t blame them.
The problem which arises within Haunt the House is that there’s no real driving force to the experience beyond possessing things and getting that initial chuckle out of seeing a heavy bag drop on someone or a UFO suddenly be uncovered. Not having an incentive to keep the momentum going via a score/combo counter does bring the game down a bit since there are only four levels within the game so the immediate replay factor is rather limited. It's to be expcted of PS Mobile games to be smaller titles not filled to the brim with content, but the concept of Haunt the House just screams to be expanded upon and further fleshed out.
For $3 I didn’t feel like I was robbed since I certainly entertained by the beautiful art and fun premise, but I didn’t walk away as fulfilled as I have with other titles in the PS Mobile library. Ultimately Haunt the House: Terrortown comes across as an enjoyable appetizer and I just hope that the follow-up main course offers more substance and overall skill to reflect the potential that SFB Games has shown us.