App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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Ever wonder what Pac Man would be like if someone like Tim Burton designed it? No? Well regardless that’s what The Spookening is in a nutshell. I know it probably doesn’t look like much from the screen shots but it’s actually about as awesome as that comparison makes it sound.
Some people have all the luck. To offset that, other people have none of it. Every single day (every, single, day) the nameless wannabe aviator protagonist dies via some sort of freak accident. And every single night his ghost must wander the town attempting to scare its residents in order to accrue enough energy to come back to life. Then he dies again. Then he scares people and resurrects again. Players guide the ghost around through a top-down perspective via a virtual stick, with a contextual action button for scares and such. Townsfolk can be scared outright with a simple “boo” or two, but for the best results they’ll need to be herded toward various objects that can be possessed (by infusing them with energy, of course) for even bigger scares.
The Spookening is a pretty good-looking game despite the fact that the camera is positioned in such a way as to hide most of the details. Although the map looks great. Looks don’t make it fun, though. What makes it fun is all the chasing and scaring. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that most of the levels are fairly open; allowing players to make good use of the environment by chasing townsfolk out of a relatively empty area and into one full of objects that can be possessed. The Crypt mechanic is also pretty clever as it’s available early on and forces players to choose between simply beating a level or sacrificing some of their energy in order to buy reusable powers in-between each night.
Most of the issues I have with The Spookening are minor. For one thing the crypt being an actual location on the map means players will eat up precious time to get there and make a deposit. Of course that’s all part of the risk/reward. It can also be difficult to identify objects that can be possessed all the time. Some are typical and can be found all over but others, such as larger special objects, aren’t always apparent. Figuring out which trees in the graveyard can or can’t be infused with ghostly energy is also a gamble that will often lead to missed opportunities.
The Spookening is just goofy, spooky fun, plain and simple. It could probably get by on looks and charm alone but the game itself is actually a lot of fun, too. Don’t be put off by the price or the difficult to read screen shots; this one’s a keeper.