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Review | Hauntii

A game created with extreme love thanks to its impressive visuals and a simple story that is affected by its playable loop

More than any other year, the indie scene has proven to have the ability and opportunity to include highly ambitious themes and mechanics within games that may be small in scale, but that still manage to cultivate these ideas in an original and entertaining way. In the case of Hauntii, a new game developed by Moonloop Games and published by Firestoke, the topic to be discussed is the afterlife, the famous life after death, and the result is an action-adventure game that despite its rough edges manages to offer a quite unique experience. 

In Hauntii the player will take the role of a spirit who has recently died and who seeks to ascend to heaven and continue the process that comes with dying, but unfortunately, this process is rejected. To achieve his goal, the player must discover who he was in life in an adventure that will take him through different areas of the afterlife while solving puzzles of different natures. Hauntii is a game that seems like it offers a ton of options, but at the same time it also restricts everything to just a few methods.

First of all, Hauntii is an action-adventure game where the player must solve puzzles, but also enter into combat with small enemies and even huge bosses, so in those aspects it is very similar to other games of the genre, the which also base their game loop on those factors. The minimalist nature of Hauntii, however, makes battle options quite limited.

Hauntii is inspired by great Nintendo titles

As its name says, Hauntii is a game where the main mechanic is to bewitch objects and use the qualities of that object to your advantage. It is a mechanic similar to the one that games like Kirby use, giving Kirby new abilities depending on the object he consumes, but its application at the level of ambition and execution is closer to that of possession by cap that Mario executes in Mario Odyssey . Our character will then go around the world possessing a large number of objects and creatures to use to his advantage.

Review | Hauntii

Do you need more firepower? Possess a creature that has strong shots. Do you need to jump a long vertical distance? Own a creature that has that ability. It is worth just observing the game carefully for a few minutes to fully understand what you need to do to solve a puzzle or defeat a boss, which mostly require the solution of a puzzle to be able to defeat them. At first, this mechanic is fascinating and many players will spend the first few hours trying to understand what can be possessed and what cannot. Fortunately, the process is fun in these early phases.

However, even though the game constantly introduces new creatures and scenarios, towards the end of the game, which lasts around six hours, the mechanics begin to feel repetitive, since no matter what, the solution is simply found in possess the correct creature or object to interact with.

In many cases, the solution does not offer alternatives, but is simply placed in front of the player waiting for him to do what he has to do. This is the nature of many games, but at least in my opinion, those that can create the illusion of choice or create a freedom of process to reach the same result are more satisfying.

Relatively simple gameplay

There is also a fairly simple layer at the combat level where the player assumes the controls of a twin-shooter to defeat low-level enemies that the game introduces as simple obstacles to make a boss more difficult or to keep the interactivity high during the game. gameplay. Necessary, since a large part of the game takes place while we walk and explore the different areas, so walking is the main action of the game. Many of the areas are quite extensive and the player will have the freedom to explore them at will while discovering and solving all the secondary activities that exist in them.

Within these secondary activities are not only puzzles and combat, but also talking with NPCs who can give us missions that we must execute along with the other activities to gain access to stars, which, as in Mario, are the main collectible of the game, and also the most important, because with these stars, the player will be able to build constellations that little by little will decipher the forgotten past of our protagonist spirit.

Review | Hauntii

An interesting artistic proposal, but somewhat repetitive

The story ends up being executed by completely minimalist means, with an almost complete absence of dialogue and simple cutscenes done in the game's minimalist visual style. The characters look like they were designed by a small child, but the settings are incredibly elaborate and quite visually impressive.

Unfortunately, and like the rest of the game, the visual palette starts to look repetitive towards the last few hours of the game, which is a shame because even though the settings vary, the color palette and visual style don't change much and everything seems equal. Towards the end, very few areas end up standing out as memorable.

The soundtrack is also one of the strong sections of the game; a mix between pop rock with guitars that remind me of the best times of bands like Death Cab for Cutie, and melodies that make the adventure mostly cozy and tender, perfectly reflecting the type of story the game is trying to tell .

Without leaving aside, of course, pieces with much more energy during boss encounters or other important sequences within the game. Fortunately, unlike the gameplay and visual palette, the music does not suffer from this stagnation in the last phases of the game.

Review | Hauntii

Conclusion

Hauntii is undoubtedly a game created with extreme love, the visuals are impressive and the art style quite unique, while the story is emotional and told in a simple and direct way. The game's short length will make Hauntii one of those indie experiences worth playing even once.

Unfortunately, the gameplay loop remains static for almost the entire game and the same happens with the visual palette, so even though the graphics are impressive there is not enough distinction to maintain visual and gameplay dynamism during the six hours of game. Despite this, Hauntii is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious and charming indies of 2024.


This review was made on PC and the Hauntii code was provided by Firestoke. The game is now available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PC consoles.

SUMMARY

Hauntii uses a unique and minimalist visual design to tell its adventure in the afterlife and although the adventure does not remain dynamic enough in all its aspects to not become repetitive, Hauntii manages to end up being an inspiring and welcoming experience.

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Hauntii uses a unique and minimalist visual design to tell its adventure in the afterlife and although the adventure does not remain dynamic enough in all its aspects to not become repetitive, Hauntii manages to end up being an inspiring and welcoming experience. Review | Hauntii