Home Tech Hauntii review: A ghost seeks understanding in the afterlife in this imaginative debut

Hauntii review: A ghost seeks understanding in the afterlife in this imaginative debut

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Hauntii review: A ghost seeks understanding in the afterlife in this imaginative debut

hAunii is a twin-stick shooter in the same way Super Mario Bros: Wonder is a jumping game. This imaginative and incredibly beautiful debut from Moonloop Games about a ghost seeking understanding in the afterlife transforms the most haunting genre into an expansive, accessible adventure full of puzzles, surprises, and ideas.

You play a recently deceased spirit who arrives on the black shores of an afterlife purgatory, with no memory of his identity in his previous life. As you make your way along winding paths of white light, two goals emerge for you to pursue: discover more about who you were before you died, and pursue a mysterious angelic figure that continually eludes your reach, like a certain princess who is absent from a certain castle. .

While Hauntii’s gameplay involves some quick movement (you can only move safely through lit areas, for example, forcing you to run through shadows), it’s more of a puzzle than a reaction game. Its hook is that the ghostly green projectiles your spirit can fire can also possess enemies and objects. Owning a tree (yes, the afterlife has trees) will allow you to shake it, causing it to shed specks of light that dot the ground, creating new paths between dark areas.

The beyond has trees. And ladybugs… Hauntii. Photography: Moonloop Games

You use these possession powers, along with your shooting and movement, to search for collectible stars hidden within the open areas of the game. You can possess a ladybug (the afterlife has ladybugs too) to climb a tree and pluck a star from its top, or take control of a ghostly dog ​​to reunite it with its owner and receive a star as a reward. Each star you collect can be connected to constellations that will allow you to upgrade your abilities, unlock new areas, and remove layers of your spectral amnesia.

If all this sounds a little… strange, you haven’t heard the half of it. Hauntii’s description of life after death is, to say the least, peculiar. The second act takes place in a sprawling circus of the dead, where you own huge twisting roller coasters. And while the game has a tragic undertone, from the musical chorus that plays when you collect a star to the melancholic glimpses of the life you lost, it’s also full of silly characters and off-beat humor.

It is also artistically sublime. The monochromatic, pointillist art style may look simple, but it comes to life through charming animation. It also builds a tremendously impressive landscape from its simple aesthetic. The aforementioned carnival is one of them, but it also features vast cityscapes that undulate beneath you as you cross the spoke-shaped bridges that protrude from the game’s central axis. Later, you explore a ruin-filled desert where ink-stained sand moves around your wraith as it moves.

The inkblot sand shifts… Hauntii. Photography: Moonloop Games

It’s a beautifully crafted work, kept from greatness by a few pesky gremlins. The isometric perspective, combined with the lack of a zoom feature in the game world, can make navigating larger areas frustrating. Additionally, if you die in combat, you respawn with only a portion of your health restored, forcing you to sniff out health-restoring items each time. And while the possession mechanics are always fun and inventively implemented, the puzzles themselves are too fragmented for the game to create anything truly clever out of them.

Nonetheless, Moonloop Games succeeds in its ingenious attempt to elevate the humble twin-stick shooter. In a month already full of indie gems, Hauntii is another gem to add to the shiny pile.

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