While Goosebumps has positive reviews on Steam, is this particular horror point and click game worth the price of admission?
About: Yes, that’s right, there is a Goosebumps game. It’s a point and click horror based loosely on the idea from the recent movie release of Goosebumps, where the monsters from the books escape from R.L. Stine’s popular Goosebumps books. You play as a character that you name, who leaves school and returns home only to discover that everything around you is now bizarre. Strange creatures lurk in the forest blocking your normal pathway home and your house has transformed itself completely. Can you get to the bottom of what’s going on and put a stop to it before it’s too late for you?
Player beware, you’re in for a scare! And possible spoilers!
The Plot/Characters: The game is said to be a prequel to the movie of the same name released in 2015 starring Jack Black. The plot centers around your character returning home from school nearly dying on the way to a plant-based monster and having to fight them with weed killer. Pretty great so far. Things get even stranger when you discover that the creepy, dark, disturbing house in your neighborhood that suddenly appeared has replaced your own. Your Mom seems unhelpful when you call her and your brother is not picking up at first, leaving you on your own for most of the time… Unless you count all the Goosebumps villains attempting to kill you and even the benign ghosts.
It turns out that all of the released creatures are from R.L. Stine’s books. After exploring, you come to find out that it was all perpetrated by their leader, Slappy, who is attempting to lure someone to the Town Center Galleria. Together with your totally rad bro, Chad, who finally decides to actually show up, you race there to put an end to this.
Depending on your choices, the main character is a boy or a girl. They are fairly slow to release anything is majorly wrong and react much like any protagonist in a choose-your-own adventure style written by R.L. Stine. Of course, you have to use your wits and vast array of items in order to move past or defeat any villains that appear so the main character is at least slightly intelligent. Chad, your bro, is a classic surfer dude persona and pretty flat as a character but humorous. At least your character adds their own banter and clever remarks to the situation to make the player laugh. The character Slappy is probably the most developed character in this entire game… He’s got a tragic backstory since he feels rejected by his Father (R.L. Stine). He uses this as fuel to set up a trap for R.L. all to finally get the attention he feels he deserves. And R.L. Stine’s character seems to be similar to the one in the movie. Overall, you’ll find lots of Easter Eggs and references to the Goosebumps books while the story and characters unfold in a rather similar manner to an R.L. Stine book!
Will you be able to survive?
Gameplay: Like most point and click adventure style games, Goosebumps is set up for you to move around using the arrow keys, interact with objects and people by using “look” or “talk” (the dialogue is all in text format) and collect items using “take” to add to your inventory. Most items are then used to solve situations to advance the game, such as using a photo lab to develop a picture, hang the photo and unlock a secret compartment.
Often times, however, you will release that you have many different items that you will never once use. In fact, I spent a ton of time attempting to run the washer and dryer in The Dead House as I was given laundry soup, dryer sheets and dirty clothes only none of it worked. Also, that blue rose in the picture below? Still no clue what that’s for… By the end of the game I had 8 pages. 8 pages of inventory. Most of it unused!? You’ll feel like the ultimate shoplifter running around taking nearly EVERYTHING from the mall. Apparently there are lots of achievements in the game all of which probably involve these items but heck if I knew how to get those. Most of the puzzle solving is cryptic as well. If you’ve read the books you might have some clues but if you are just a casual fan, you’re probably going to need a walkthrough. A lot. At first I thought it was just me, but after watching Harshly Critical struggle to figure out a lot of different areas, including a time when you have to WEIGH CANDY in order to open a door to the last area (all of which is differently priced and the game gives you no clue you need it to open the door)… I was pretty convinced it was just the game’s fault.
Creatures within the game will jump out and surprise you in this game, leaving to many heart attack inducing situations. This is great. The scares in the game are actually pretty decent. Often times you’re lured into a false sense of security and then BAM your face is eaten by a giant green blob monster earning you a “Game Over” screen. Don’t worry though, as you can retry, placing you back almost where you were before. I screamed the first time I was attacked by something often times but then by the fifth, sixth or seventh attempt at getting past it and meeting the same end I typically became complacent and the jumpscare became ineffective. That’s not to say that there aren’t intense scenes. For instance, running from the security guard or the gnomes was definitely nail biting.
Graphics: The graphics are pretty much awesome in this game. You can tell a lot of effort went into making them look very similar to the illustrated covers of any of the Goosebumps books. The colors are vivid, the style very much the same and the different rooms all have distinctly individual backgrounds. A lot of details have been placed into the game as well.
The Score/Atmosphere: Typically there are only a few background songs playing throughout the game. They set a great spooky atmosphere but aren’t especially though provoking. The thing that this game certainly has down is the background noises. Grandfather clocks tick, footsteps are heard, ghostly moaning comes from locked doors. Sometimes there is even an absence of noise which also feels threatening.
Overall: While the scares, atmosphere and nostalgia certainly make this game interesting it struggles to reach its full potential due to the overwhelming number of cryptic puzzles and need for many re-dos. What could have been a fantastic game was instead washed out by the need to follow walkthroughs or struggle to progress an area leading to a lot of frustration. Perhaps the game would be easier solved by R.L. Stine himself. There are a lot of scares and you will probably almost fall out of your chair at several points and have chills sent down your spine navigating scary hallways and running from gnomes. However, once you’ve died from Slappy eating your face off about five times its easy for the scares to become mundane. You’ll probably get 4-5 hours of gameplay out of it though if that’s what you really care about but wait for the game to go on sale first.
Have you played Goosebumps: The Game yet? If so, what did you think?