Good evening welcome to my humble abode, once you enter you’ll be dying to leave! Mwahahahamwahaha! Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror is a game about scaring people. You play as the titular poltergeist and it’s your job to scare people out of your family home in this interesting puzzle game.
Using an isometric view, you are given a range of rooms to play with. In these rooms are the new residents of your house and each goes about their own routines. Having no corporeal body you are limited in your interactions to moving household objects, making spooky sounds, possessing people or creating vortexes to another realm! If you create a disturbance in a room full of people then these people will become frightened and run away. Clear all the rooms and you can move to the next level.
The challenge comes from the balance between the limits you have on your available spooky skills, and the scare resistance of certain residents. Some people need to be scared twice, or even three times before they scarper. Through clever use of your terrifying skills, you need to ensure you freak out the maximum number of residents with each action you take.
This game knows what it’s doing, and doesn’t mess around trying to be art or something it’s not. It’s about scaring people and doing it in the most efficient manner possible. BOO! It does resemble a game from an earlier generation, a bit like an Amiga game, but here in lies the charm. The simplistic graphics allow for some wonderfully expressive touches. From the dog used in the loading screens to the way the people lose their shit when they run to leave the house, it really is quirky to look at. Set over a range of time periods the interior of the house changes to reflect the time. Although the differences are just cosmetic and they all resemble each other. However the overall fun I had in playing this game came as a surprise to me.
Whilst the early stages are pretty easy to complete, the difficulty quickly ramps up with more spooky abilities to use and different kinds of people to scare. Before long you find yourself planning stages to ensure you scare everyone, making sure to group your victims together and pick them off with maximum efficiency. At the end of each set of stages there are boss characters to defeat. These are immune to general scares and have the ability to interfere with your ghostly goings on if you use a trick in their location. Getting rid of the rest of the residents first will allow you to pull out a super scare and terrify them out of your house.
The levels quickly descend into a minefield of planning and reading future moves. It’s a bit like chess in that regard and later levels really make you think. The beauty of this game is the clockwork nature of it, the residents move in predictable ways and your eerie powers are consistent with the game world. This is a huge benefit and allows you to trust the game and read the consequences of your moves. Ideally suited for the Vita’s pick up and play style, each level can be completed in minutes.
If you like your puzzles with scares and a liberal dash of fun then Poltergeist is the game for you. With a cute retro feel which fits well on the Vita this offers great pick up and play gaming. One to get your teeth into MWA HA HA HA!