I got a feeling somebody's watching me! HAUNTED HOUSE REVIEW

Lyn Graves, the precocious niece of legendary treasure hunter Zachary Graves faces the open gate of her uncle’s mansion with her closest fri...

Lyn Graves, the precocious niece of legendary treasure hunter Zachary Graves faces the open gate of her uncle’s mansion with her closest friends. Something has gone horribly wrong. Her uncle is missing, and the mansion overrun with ghouls and monsters. Upon entry those ghostly fiends quickly grab and spirit away Lyn's friends. In order to free her uncle and her friends, and capture all the supernatural foes, Lyn must overcome traps, foes and find all the clues to locating the shattered pieces of a magical urn and put them back together before it is too late.


Haunted House breathes new life into the classic 1982 Atari 2600 title, taking the basic gameplay and simple blocky graphics and infusing it with brand new graphics and adding roguelite gameplay while preserving the core stealth-adventure essence of the original. Players assume the role of Lyn, a courageous teenager thrust into a world of phantasmal terror. Her mission: to traverse the haunted mansion's ever-changing layout, a labyrinthine puzzle teeming with shifting walls and spectral adversaries. Lyn's goal is twofold: to liberate her trapped friends and find her missing uncle, all while piecing together the fragments of a magical urn that hold the key to banishing the malevolent forces that have taken over the mansion. If you get knocked out during your search, you can try again and again.  Each playthrough unveils procedurally generated room layouts, unpredictable enemy placements, and chilling ghostly encounters. The mansion evolves with each step, ensuring every expedition is a unique and unpredictable challenge.


The core gameplay mechanic in Haunted House is stealth navigation. Armed with your wits, a flashlight and whatever you can find in the house, you must embark on exploration of the mansion. Every step you take however generates noise. if you run the noise will be a lot worse and will make enemies aware of your presence causing them to see you out. To prevent detection, you must take your time and at times also sneak, covering up your light and tiptoeing by unsuspecting evil doers.

If you do get discovered and you are in a pinch, you can run and roll your way out of dodge but be careful doing so will cost stamina and you do not want to be caught out of breath with nowhere to go. 

Due to its roguelike nature, it means that the game will allow you multiple, if not unlimited stabs clearing out its levels, over the course of your successful and failed attempts you will be able to buy better stats such as health and stamina to increase your survival next time. This gameplay mechanic also includes new layouts for the "dungeons" on each run. Every time there are new doors, new rooms, new challenges, enemies and rewards. 

Bats, Sewer rats, Vibora snake,Tarantula Goliath,Squiggle the thieving fox,cottontail a scary cute bunny, Spectrum , Frank.. you know, THAT monster.
This is just a handful of the 18 enemies that you’ll encounter in the ever-changing mansion that  you will have to deal with.

Avoidance is often better than engaging in combat, but if you cannot get around it you will be able to use the many onetime use tools you find across the mansion. Such as a boxing glove in a box that knocks out a monster for a period of time, allowing you to get away or attack safely and dissolve the ghost in an array of bright light from your lantern. Or soft bunny slippers that make you quiet even when running but be careful the timer will run out on your before you know it, and with a poof they disappear. You better not get caught when they do. 

The game also allows some stealth attacks on distracted or sleeping enemies, which is a good way of clearing out some space. Other enemies come jumping out of paintings or puddles and can only be dodged or you have to shake them off and run away.  And then there are the many traps along the way as well as items you can accidentally knock over if you are not careful alerting all enemies nearby.

The gameplay loop comes down to clearing each floor with random generated rooms (like dungeons) and for each room you will get a unique mission that entails to either: Eliminate all enemies, travel through the ghost realm find the spirit ruby, find and a magic idol and put it on a pedestal, survive for a certain amount of time, or turn on all spirit lanterns. Succeeding means the room will be cleared by a bright light and you unlock a blue treasure chest with some nice rewards including money and gems to buy yourself upgrades throughout the game. On one hand the limited goals can start to feel a little repetitive, but on the other hand the unique random generated content for each room keeps the challenge fresh and some victories feel better than others because of it. Especially at later levels it is very satisfying to "solve" a room successfully.

Each floor is also haunted by a unique boss that must be defeated in order to move on. You’ll encounter each one several times initially in a large room to gather the right items needed to defeat them, and then in an ultimate face off. Eliminate tham and you will be able to proceed deeper into the mansion. Each one of these battles will test your reflexes and resolve to defeat with each boss fight introducing unique challenges not found in the other rooms.

One of the first bosses is Cuca an old witch who lived in a remote cabin in a forest in Brazil. There were stories of people who approached her cabin and were never seen again. Some said that Cuca had turned them into animals. Explore and face the maze on each level to find the other bosses and find out their unique stories and challenges.

And then there your friends, how could leave them to their own devices? As you progress through the mansion you will find ways to unlock doors to special areas with at the end of it a cage with your companion trapped inside. But of course, they will be defended by some form of malevolent spirit just waiting to spoil the fun. As you locate and retrieve each companion, they become available as playable characters. This means you’ll have new playstyles as your roster grows, changing your odds with each run. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each character and how they affect your progression is the determining factor in whether you’ll escape or not.

Obviously, this game is a massive upgrade over the original, gone are the squares and rectangle colors and instead you are playing in a real mansion with a fun cartoonish art style that feel like a fun comic book or Saturday morning cartoon. The atmosphere does give some Luigi's mansion and Disney's haunted mansion vibes, but without being a straight rip-off of either, it manages very well to be its own thing. The cute exterior is complemented by a fun and spooky soundtrack that at times can feel a little repetitive but overall, it sets a nice spooky vibe.  There is no voice acting in the game, which is not a big problem, but I would have loved to have seen it added for that extra production value, especially as it would fit really nice with that cartoon feel the game has.

There are a bunch of fun upgrades to your skills but also the mansion itself such as new stairs, paintings wallpaper etc. that you can unlock giving you all the more reasons to keep playing and improving.

The game manages to expertly navigate the line between cute, cozy and the spooky challenges. With its primarily stealth-based gameplay and light combat sequences there is also enough room left to pay attention to its roots with a bunch of fun Atari Easter Eggs.  The game is full of collectibles and lore based on the original Haunted House and other classic favorites from Atari’s golden age and it is a blast finding them all throughout the game. 

Parental recommendation:

The ESRB Rates this game a 10+ game, but these geeks feel this game can work for some younger kids as well, but it depends on the kid. The challenge level is not extreme but can ramp up in difficulty in some levels, especially if the randomness is not in your favor. But the punishment for "losing" is minimal.
With combat de-emphasized, players must focus on stealth movement and solving challenges, except for the few rooms where eliminating the enemies is a requirement or during boss fights. But overall, the focus is on brain of brawn and there is no gratuitous violence.  Players defend against attacking ghosts by using a lantern to drain their spirit meters; the lantern can also be used to vaporize unsuspecting ghosts. No blood or gore. As far as language goes things are very mild the worst word to appear in the game is "hell."

Final Thoughts:

"Haunted House" has found a way to revitalize a classic Atari game from a time where the capabilities and features of games were extremely limited and give it a modern spin at a modest budget. While not perfect it brings a solid experience for the player, offering an engaging blend of stealth, strategy, and exploration with a dash of family friendly spooky. The game's roguelike nature ensures high replayability, with each playthrough presenting new challenges and surprises. Even if sometimes things can become a little repetitive, it is the diverse enemy types, room layouts and boss battles that add depth to the gameplay and enough variation to keep things from going stale. The incorporation of Lyn's friends as playable characters adds more strategy and allows the player different ways of approaching the game, and the same goes for the upgrades to characters and more. The charming art style, coupled with the spooky ambiance, creates an immersive experience. While voice acting could have added extra polish, the game compensates with its rich Atari-inspired collectibles and lore. "Haunted House" manages to strike a balance between nostalgic homage and modern gaming and features making it a delightful and engaging little adventure for players of all ages.

Game Haunted House
Developer Orbit Studio
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One, Xbox S|X, Nintendo Switch, Atari VCS Release Date:  12 October 2023 (Price: $19.99)
Review PlatformPlayStation 5
ESRB: E10+ (
Fantasy Violence, Mild Language)

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks  


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