What is Goosebumps: The Game?
Goosebumps: The Game is a point and click prequel to the recent film starring Jack Black, and sees you investigating the strange goings on in your neighbourhood. It all begins with your walk home from school, where you run into a blood-thirsty tree monster in the woods. Arriving at the place where your house once stood, you find it's been replaced by a creepy mansion, inhabited by three ghostly children and a prune juice-obsessed aunt you've never seen before. In order to get to the bottom of the mystery and go back to your normal life, you'll need to explore every nook and cranny, pick up everything that's not nailed down, and use it to solve the game's many, many puzzles.
How do you play Goosebumps: The Game?
Played from a first person perspective, through the eyes of a young teen, you can move from scene to scene, and interact with items by sliding your stylus across the Touch Screen, to move a cursor on the top screen. You'll need to interact with the various characters, items and areas to progress, often having to solve a "use this item with this object" puzzle before you can continue. Similar to the likes of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango and Simon the Sorcerer, the puzzles can be a little obtuse, and require a certain type of logic to solve - but at the same time, you can also get past a lot of them by simply trying everything in your inventory with everything else in the hope something happens. For example, one sequence sees you facing off against a death-laser shooting robot, which you can only stop by spraying slippery dish soap at it's feet to make it fall over; likewise, picking some very specific options in a conversation with your Aunt Dahlia is the only way to get into a long drawn out monologue to send her to sleep and escape your prune-related fate. It's worth noting too that deaths and game overs can come at almost any time - drinking the prune juice, failing to disable the robot in time or leaping into a cavernous black hole will all prematurely end your game. In fact, it's quite often necessary to die a few times before you work out what to do for each puzzle, which is why saving frequently, and manually, as Goosebumps has no autosave, is pretty much a necessity.
How easy is Goosebumps: The Game to pick up and play?
While the game's logic may be a bit difficult for some kids to grasp, particularly if they've not played a game like it before, if they know they need to explore each and every scene as much as they can, picking up anything and everything in sight, they'll be on the right track. Beyond the puzzles, it's the reading that makes this best suited to older kids. Goosebumps: The Game is not voiced at all, and is very text heavy, with descriptions, conversations and narration at every turn. Cutscenes, while fairly infrequent, also have text which scrolls through automatically at a fairly speedy pace, meaning that you'll definitely need to be a confident reader to tackle this one.
- "Your skin crawls just standing here, on the porch. You hope the neighbors haven't noticed that your house turned into a macabre mystery mansion overnight."
- "Oh you know, it's late. Everyone's asleep. S'gotta be things that slink out from the shadows."
- "Your vision blurs as the plant creature's vines tighten around your neck. You struggle, but it's too late; you're already withering."
Generally speaking, Goosebumps: The Game is pretty tame in terms of mature content - there's no bad language, gore or sex whatsoever. Violence is pretty much none existent too, instead sticking to 'implied' deaths, where the screen fades out while text descriptions tell of vines tightening around your character's neck or smoke rising from a creature's wounds.
Probably the biggest issue with this one is it's slightly creepy and dark tone, which may scare younger or less brave kids. About on a par with the TV show or film, there's a few jump scares, and a few ghouls, ghosts and monsters with 'lunge' towards the screen, as well as the mildly disturbing ventriloquist's dummy Slappy.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS