Halloween has come and gone, but yet we still crave spooky experiences! Whether it’s classic jump scares or cliched skeletons in the closet, we all love some lighthearted scary moments. Ghost Sweeper aims to keep Halloween alive while scratching the eerie itch with its colourful and cartoon ghostly aesthetics.
Developed by 7 Raven Studios and published by Totalconsole this is an adventure-puzzle title. Its basic premise is familiar, and its bite-size levels won’t wow you, but the gradual increase in difficulty will push you to the last stage. Its classic audio and colourful cartoon world add a fun flair to what is otherwise a standard platforming experience.
Ghost Sweeper is cliched.
Ghost Sweeper asks you to control two heroes, John and Indy, who must stop an evil lord from taking over the realm (cliched, I know). It comprises eight worlds, each with eight stages, two hidden areas, and plenty of collectables. You control one hero per level who must find all the treasures, collect the key, and escape before the time runs out. You may think, “this sounds pretty easy!” Yet, the ever-ticking clock adds pressure and forces you to make mistakes.
It matters not which of the protagonists you choose, as the core gameplay never changes. You must kill each monster by shooting them with your gun or hoovering them up. Furthermore, you are required to remove and place blocks, destroy clouds, and teleport using portals. The further you progress, the more aggressive your foes are, and the larger the stages become. Subsequently, it becomes apparent that planning and failure go hand in hand, as you blindly try to explore each stage with no hint of a solution.
I loved this secretive approach and applaud the developers for adding some challenge and mystery to their gameplay. It was great fun trying to avoid zombies, ghosts, or projectiles as you desperately searched for the key to the exit or gems and coins. Though some gamers will not like the repetition and “grindy” nature of this approach, I enjoyed trying to create a full-proof plan and felt that this stood out from its otherwise familiar mechanics.
80s gameplay, but lacking the finesse.
Veteran gamers or fans of retro titles will pick up the early platforming vibes within Ghost Sweeper. The simple stage design, basic elements, and rinse and repeat levels reminded me of Commodore 64 and Atari gaming. Titles such as Mighty Bomb Jack and Solomon’s Key were designed with finesse and difficulty in mind, but Ghost Sweeper falls flat.
This may all seem very doom and gloom, but I assure you it isn’t. Working your way through each of the stages is challenging, especially when trying to receive the maximum score. Three stars are awarded for exiting, finishing within the time limit, and finding the collectables. Furthermore, a fourth star is offered if you return to each level! Here you must complete a set goal, such as rushing to the exit, killing every enemy, or more. This is where Ghost Sweeper excels and trying to score 100% on each world is no mean feat.
Ghost Sweeper is retro-inspired.
Retro-inspired platform titles are all the rage, and I like the trip down memory lane. Subsequently, Ghost Sweeper does well to enhance this by capturing the essence of arcade platform gaming within its colourful and simple stage design. However, the character models sadly lack detail, but they are nice to look at and there are a good variety of foes to encounter. Moreover, each of the ten worlds you visit has a unique style, and this helps to prevent boredom from setting in.
The variety and cliched approach continue within the haunting audio. Classic Halloween songs can be heard throughout Ghost Sweeper, and I loved this obvious style. Fortunately, though, these tunes are broken up and complemented by some original eerie music. This prevented the audio from becoming too “hammy” and I think the developers got the balance just right. Sadly, the sound effects didn’t fare so well as they were repetitive and annoying.
Every time I look at a platforming title, I focus on the controls. The story can be excellent, the gameplay unique and inventive, but if the controls are terrible, it’s a waste. Annoyingly, Ghost Sweeper relies on clunky controls that quickly become tedious. In a game that relies on speed, reactions, and accuracy, its clumsy setup lets it down. You will fail repeatedly because of this issue, and this causes unnecessary frustration that undermines the gameplay.
Like many of its peers, this has plenty of potential to keep you playing. Thanks to its many secrets, collectable objects, and hidden paths, you will be kept busy for hours. Completionists will have a nightmare trying to finish this and practise and patience are a must if you want to see it through. Its tough achievement list will test your resolve and your platforming skills to the max.
Ghost Sweeper doesn’t strike a chord.
In a market that is full of gems, Ghost Sweeper doesn’t offer enough to stand out. I loved its retro-inspired approach, but it lacks the finesse of its dated counterparts. The failure to add depth to its core concept undermines the finished product, and none of its elements stands out enough to make it more than an okay title. I enjoyed it, but I don’t recommend you to buy it. Defeat the Dark Lord and remove the undead from this once peaceful realm.