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Hauntii reviews ghosts seek understanding in the afterlife in this imaginative debut | Games

Hauntii reviews ghosts seek understanding in the afterlife in this imaginative debut | Games


Hauntii is a twin-stick shooter in the same way that Super Mario Bros. Wonder is a jumping game. This imaginative and breathtakingly beautiful debut from Moonloop Games about a ghost searching for understanding in the afterlife, transforming one of the most nerve-wracking of genres into a sprawling, challenging adventure full of puzzles, surprises, and ideas.

You play as a ghost who has recently washed up on the black shores of the afterlife of Purgatory with no memory of your past life. As you follow a winding path of white light, two goals emerge for you to pursue: learn more about who you were before you died, and pursue a mysterious angelic figure who continues to elude you like a princess who missed a castle.

While Haunti involves fast movement (for example, only well-lit areas are safe to move through, and you have to dash through shadows), it's more of a puzzle game than a reaction game. The best part is the ghostly green bullets your spirit can fire to possess enemies and objects. Possessing trees (yes, there are trees in the afterlife) can make them shake and cast grains of light that splash on the ground to create new paths between dark areas.

There are trees in the afterlife. And a ladybug haunt. Photo: Moonloop Games

Use these possession abilities in addition to shooting and movement to search for collectible stars hidden within the game's open end zone. Possess a ladybug (there are ladybugs in the afterlife too) to climb trees and pluck stars from their canopies, or control a ghostly dog ​​to reunite with its owner and receive a star as a reward. Collected stars can be inserted into constellations to upgrade abilities, unlock new areas and peel back layers of ghostly amnesia.

If this all sounds a bit strange, you're not even halfway through. Haunt's depiction of the afterlife is outlandish to say the least. The second act takes place in a vast circus of the dead, where players ride a giant, looping rollercoaster. The game has a tragic atmosphere, but it's also full of goofy characters and quirky humour, from the uplifting musical refrain that plays as you collect stars to the melancholic side of a life lost.

Artistically, it's sublime: the monochrome pointillist style looks simple, but the fun animations bring it to life, and the simple aesthetic yields some seriously striking landscapes, like the aforementioned carnival, but also the rippling cityscapes that spread out below you as you cross the spoke-like bridges that jut out from the game's central hub. Later, as you explore the ruin-dotted desert, ink-flecked sand moves around your ghosts as they move.

Ink Spot's sand moves Hauntoy. Photo: Moonloop Games

The game is beautifully crafted, but some pesky issues hold it back from being a masterpiece. The isometric perspective, combined with the lack of ability to zoom into the game world, makes navigating the large zones a pain at times, and if you die in combat, you revive with only a portion of your health restored, forcing you to hunt around for health restores every time. And while the possession mechanics are always fun and inventively placed, the puzzles themselves are a bit too piecemeal to allow the game to create anything truly original from them.

Still, Moonloop Games has pulled off a smart attempt to elevate this humble twin-stick shooter, and in a month chock-full of great indie releases, Hauntii is another great addition to the illustrious pile.




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