Hauntia review


I was immediately drawn to Hauntii thanks to its striking illustrated artwork and captivating jazz noir soundtrack. The powerful opening shows the hero, a lovely ghost who has recently died, trying to ascend to a heavenly plane, hand in hand with a guardian angel, only to be chained and dragged back into the depths of Eternity. It’s a thrilling moment, and while the gameplay doesn’t always prove to be that engaging, it provides enough thrills to take you on a dizzying journey through the afterlife.

As the spirit seeks to reunite with its winged companion, the game takes players through beautifully designed biomes in the land of Eternity. From a densely forested village to my favorite place, a bustling amusement park, I can’t emphasize enough how frosty the game’s two-color line art looks, especially in motion. The visuals are complemented by a great soundtrack, which is one of my favorites this year. It jumps from thin piano melodies and saxophone-driven lo-fi beats to uplifting, gorgeous scores that effectively evoke emotions.

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Despite its serene nature, Hauntii is essentially an action game that plays like a twin-stick shooter. Beyond the basic thrill of blasting enemies with spectral energy by aiming with the right stick, shooting objects allows you to “haunt” them and exploit their unique abilities. Having other enemies can support in sometimes hard combat encounters thanks to the excellent firepower they have. Sure, I could rely on my own power, but it’s much more satisfying and effective to destroy enemies as a bomb-throwing flower bulb or eliminate aerial threats with a fireworks-shooting amusement park attendant.

Hauntii routinely forces players to rely on ball possession to overcome hard attacks that sometimes involve a dozen or so enemies firing hellball-style projectiles. The moment-to-moment gunfire becomes weaker after a while, but inventive boss encounters add some intriguing wrinkles. One of my favorites is having a bomb-filled roller coaster that you can ride along a track full of booby traps to reach a massive monster.

Other haunted interactions are less involved and more customized, such as grabbing a tree to shake currency and health from its branches. In this sense, Hauntii reminds me of Super Mario Odyssey in that some of the items had no practical exploit but provided jocular, novel interactions. Other, more inventive possibilities allow you to manipulate level design and navigation, such as raising platforms to create elevated paths or inhabiting space sand whales to navigate a turbulent vortex.

Each area contains a number of hidden stars to collect, which are used to upgrade your heart count, ammo firing, and how often you exploit your dodge dash. They also unlock basic yet effective vignettes revealing the spirit’s core memories of its past life. Collecting these stars makes for a satisfying scavenger hunt in 3D Mario games. Some stars lie in remote corners, while others can be obtained by completing basic side quests or completing hidden challenges, such as clearing an area of ​​hazards. Fortunately, you don’t need them all, as they aren’t always the most thrilling tasks, and some are repetitive, like timed races and finding a lost dog.

Exploration is also hampered by the intended movement speed, which is a tad slower than I would like. Since most zones are huge and require multiple visits, I often found myself pressing the dash button to speed up my journey. The sophisticated graphical design and isometric viewing angles can also make navigating some paths, especially elevated ones, a hard and sometimes annoying proposition due to perspective. I could also do without collecting different but identical currencies to unlock different hats, which, while cute, wish you could take them off instead of just switching to different ones.

While Hauntii offers a simplistic shooting experience, my favorite moments didn’t involve blowing targets to pieces. The voiceless story of a ghost gradually regaining precious memories only to be forced to crucify them moved me at some points. I enjoyed interacting with the wacky, fun ghosts, like a paranoid scientist concocting crazy plans to capture your angel, like a Team Rocket villain. I never tired of being immersed in the swelling score as the camera panned to reveal the stunning backgrounds. The handsome ending sequence is the highlight of the year. Hauntii transforms the understandable anxiety and fear surrounding death into an alluring and comforting reflection of the joy of life.

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