App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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I've never played Kero Blaster, but it's my understanding that you basically have to mention it when writing about Help! I'm Haunted. The developers themselves even describe the game as a sort of Ghostbusters-inspired take on the game. Both are 2D platformers that focus heavily on shooting, so much so that there are independent controls for aiming and moving. There's something really neat about making a retro-looking platformer feel more like a dual stick shooter, but the coolest ideas that make it into Help! I'm Haunted are all stacked at the end of a game that otherwise feels pretty rote.
Bustin' makes me feel good
Help! I'm Haunted is essentially a Ghostbusters game. You play as a man who's business is to respond to paranormal activity throughout a town with an arsenal of ghost-bustin' weapons. These locations are represented on an overview map where you can choose which sites to go to, which then dumps you into levels full of ghosts and other supernatural foes that you need to clear out.
These levels look quite a bit like traditional action-platformer levels, but the way you move through them in Help! I'm Haunted is somewhat unique. This is largely due to the fact that this game has a dedicated control interface for controlling your shooting on top of having traditional movement and jumping buttons.
This house is clean
The addition of directional shooting controls to Help! I'm Haunted seems to be the most direct way that the game borrows from Kero Blaster. This seemingly simple complication shifts the focus of Help! I'm Haunted's action from traversal to shooting, which is a smart move considering the game's movement controls feel pretty sluggish.
To compliment this shooting focus, Help! I'm Haunted also features an arsenal of six upgradable weapons, most of which have their own unique use cases. With such variety and granular control of your weapons, the game's levels end up feeling more like a series of combat puzzles that you need to figure out before doing some executing some light platforming to get to the next room.
The idea of having a combat puzzler in a retro 2D style sounds amazing, but the unfortunate thing about Help! I'm Haunted is that there are very few times where the game sets up combat scenarios that are actually interesting and challenging. The last few levels of Help! I'm Haunted are the only times where you see glimpses of brilliance in an otherwise banal experience.
A lot of this has to do with how Help! I'm Haunted gates its weapon unlocks. Although it may be fun to work your way up into unlocking all of your weapon options, this forces the game's early encounters to all be solvable with the most basic weapons. Only once you get weapons that have different ranges and shoot at different trajectories, Help! I'm Haunted actually puts together some level designs that encourage you to do more than just stand at a safe distance and blast away at everything.
The bottom line
Help! I'm Haunted very much looks like the kind of Ghostbusters game I've always wanted, but it only feels that way in its last moments. The game just takes too long to ramp up into something interesting, and once it does, it ends.