Hauntii Review | Nintendo Switch

Hauntii, features an action-adventure game with a story that leaves a mark.

By SnowWhite, Posted 24 May 2024

Hauntii is a story-driven twin-stick shooter developed by Moonloop Games and published by Firestoke. Ghost stories have been told in countless video games, and the popularity of these games never had to look back ever since this genre produced games like Silent Hill or Fatal Frame. While most horror games are fun to play, some are overly scary, and some are fun due to their gameplay mechanics, Hauntii is one of those games that touches both areas.

Moonloop Games' debut title, Hauntii, features an action-adventure game with a story that leaves a mark. This isn't a game that merely adheres to the traditional horror games while offering fun; it exceeds expectations for decent grades in everything. Despite its flaws, it accomplishes its goals of impressing and moving the players.

Hauntii, Review, Nintendo Switch, Gameplay, Screenshots, Horror, Indie, Game

Imagine yourself as a Spirit that has been transported to an unfamiliar realm and is now faced with the daunting task of completing constellations to reach higher echelons of the celestial hierarchy. The story revolves around a small ghost named Hauntii who has reached Eternity for the first time and has no recollection of his past. It meanders around the afterlife without purpose until it meets an Eternian, who extends an offer to journey to the heavens.

But it drops back into the realm of darkness, bound by its cursed chains and forced to remain in the shadows forever. Soon after, he realizes that to proceed with his ascent, he would initially be required to retrieve his memories, which have assumed the form of stars and are dispersed across the Beyond. So, to figure out his life's purpose, he sets off on a quest to find these shiny things. Besides that, the spirit is attempting to decipher the secrets of the Eternians and reunite with its companion.

Bits and pieces of the tale are dropped in here and there through characters you meet along the way, and there are also short sequences that you unlock as you go through the game. While learning about your past in Hauntii can be an emotionally taxing experience, the story takes a more serious tone at points, and the writers even manage to pull off some comedic moments. Hauntii seems confused about the way it wants to take its story at times due to its contrasting tones. The universe you're stuck in and the story behind your inclusion is intriguing enough to keep you hooked.

Hauntii, Review, Nintendo Switch, Gameplay, Screenshots, Horror, Indie, Game

There are elements of twin-stick shooters and relaxing exploration, so it's like a mashup of genres. On top of that, every once in a while, the game will throw in a puzzle just for fun. The gameplay of Hauntii is comprised of two primary mechanics. The first of them is that you can use one stick to control your character while using the other stick to shoot so-called "essence" shots. Additionally, there is your character's "Haunting" ability, which functions as a possession mechanism.

This second skill can be used to possess a broad variety of things and enemies, including trees, hills that can think for themselves, flying skulls shaped like bats, and many more. Possession is a limited ability that requires collection currency to activate an object's function, but the game's plentiful treasures make worrying about running out of these invaluable assets rapidly disappear.

Within the realm of Hauntii, you'll venture over expansive regions that are divided into many divisions. Slow gameplay is the norm, with Hauntii's movement pace isn't its most likable feature. Thankfully, there is an upgradeable dash ability in the game, but you may still expect a sluggish experience. In each region, your objective is to complete a series of short quests or chores and amass a sufficient number of stars to complete the expansive map of the game. Some examples of these missions include removing every enemy from a certain region and even riding a roller coaster in reverse.

Among the many areas you'll visit, you'll find a surprising number of extra tasks that offer a decent blend of difficulty. Certain inanimate items, creatures, and characters can also be haunted, which adds a little bit of excitement to the gameplay. As part of a haunting, you capture the target after blasting plasma shots into them. For instance, you could enter the body of a spectral dog and bring it back to its rightful owner, or you may inhabit a huge tree and shake it for treasure. Unfamiliar with most gaming mechanics, I found the Haunting mechanic to be enjoyable.

Hauntii, Review, Nintendo Switch, Gameplay, Screenshots, Horror, Indie, Game

Hauntii falls short of expectations as a twin-stick shooter. While the shooting mechanics are solid in theory, the game as a whole moves at a snail's pace. The fact that you'll have to recharge for a little after firing a specific number of rounds, or what the game calls Essence, slows down the action. At times, the developers' innovative thinking nearly puts you in a boss-fight-like situation, and there are a few instances of pure genius when this happens.

Killing enemies and destroying stuff, however, never really feel like a priority while playing the game. Drawing too much damage from a hostile fire or walking off of a road that is lit will cause your character to die, which is very ironic for a spirit. Staying in the shadows for too long may drain your soul, robbing you of some of the in-game currency they've earned so far. This currency can be utilized to purchase hats, which are charming small wearable accessories, or to solve tasks.

There are a lot of ways to die in Hauntii, but it's never very challenging. Exploration, taking your time, and finding secret regions are the primary focuses of this activity, which, in general, is a reasonably stress-free pursuit. Also, there are a lot of save points spread apart, so you won't lose your progress too often. Also, the constellation map unlocks more upgrades the more quests you accomplish. You can increase your health, dash, and essence through what is essentially a skill tree.

The game's map system is good at showing you how many important items you've acquired in a given location, and the game does a respectable job of describing the primary objectives. There was less need to go back and forth or aimlessly roam around thanks to this convenient function. Even with the numerous portals that try to speed up the flow of the game, Hauntii may still seem like a tedious slog at times due to the game's slow speed. Getting across certain areas can frequently feel like it's taking a lifetime.

Hauntii, Review, Nintendo Switch, Gameplay, Screenshots, Horror, Indie, Game

Hauntii stands out visually, with a style that is unmatched by other indie games. The game features an eye-catching two-tone color scheme, animation, and line art that is uniquely hand-crafted. The environment is filled with detailed ballpoint pen sketches and doodles as if the game had leaped from a sketchbook and landed on the screen. The hand-drawn graphics in Hauntii are what set it apart from other games; they're colorful and lively. Looking into Hauntii at times can make you feel like you're staring into a large desert or a scorching hot sun through a blurry, wavering filter that covers the whole screen.

Each universe has its unique vibe, made possible by the use of a limited color palette and the use of line drawing approaches, which make comparing challenging.  This style has its advantages, however, a bit more color could make it more appealing. At times during gameplay, the camera will pan out to highlight some of the game's breathtaking set pieces, but your character will be obscured from view. But the stunning two-tone color palette, intricate line art, smooth animation, and a hand-drawn art style come together to provide a vibrant and fascinating universe. The serene forests and woodlands of one realm give way to a vast metropolis with terrifying towers of another, and so on.

However, the sound design is just amazing. I was taken aback at moments by the breathtaking orchestration. Even though the game does not include voice acting, you will receive some fairly excellent comical sound effects to go alongside an emotional tune. The game's composition is gentler, which creates a pleasant atmosphere for exploring. The way the sound would warp and alter as you strayed more from a trail and into the night was a nice touch.

Little details like those made Hauntii come to life. In contrast to other games in its genre, Hauntii is more reflective, and Michael Kirby Ward's magnificent music is the best example of this. A strong candidate for the title of best video game soundtrack of the year, this music is undeniably the game's distinct highlight. Constantly bringing a magical and melancholy air to any situation, yet often remaining serene. It maintains its focus on the wonder that motivates the journey throughout, shifting from a small scale to a large, epic one as called for.

Hauntii, Review, Nintendo Switch, Gameplay, Screenshots, Horror, Indie, Game

Those who aren't into unusual indie games probably won't enjoy Hauntii. Although it falls short in executing each genre it aims to combine, it does provide a relaxing experience that might be enjoyable for short periods. It is a gratifying experience to participate in activities such as collecting stars and making constellations, and you won't regret entering Hauntii's realm or solving riddles to earn more stars. Even if the game's opening hours are very slow, it still offers a wide variety of currencies, an endless number of tasks, and a free-form exploration experience. Aside from the twin-stick shooting mechanic, Hauntii's heartwarming storyline, the unique and stunning world design, and finding all the stars spread over the country is a blast.

Asura Kagawa (@AsuraKagawa)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information



Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): Firestoke
Developer(s): Moonloop Games LLC
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Exploration, Puzzle, Twin Stick Shooter
Release Date: 2024-05-23

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