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Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror Review

Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror Review

“Have you ever wanted to be a ghost?” the trailer for Glitchy Pixel’s new isometric indie asks. There are plenty of games around these days in which players are at the mercy of mischievous poltergeists, yet few in which you can actually play one. Into that gap in the market boldly strides Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror Story.

The player takes on the role of recently deceased Henry B. Knight, a wealthy landlord of a creepy mansion in the middle of nowhere. Following the death of his wife, Mr. Knight became increasingly antisocial before passing away still angry and bitter. Now that his mansion has been bought up and people are moving into it, the angry ghost of Knight sets out to scare them away.

Each level in Poltergeist contains a number of rooms connected by large doorways, populated by your unaware victims. They come in three distinctive types: normal humans, the easiest to scare, dogs, which are more alert to your tricks, and special characters, which can block ghostly abilities. Above each victim is a gauge indicating how many ‘scares’ they can endure (between one and three) before fleeing from the level in abject terror. Frightening all of the floor’s inhabitants and sending them scurrying for the exit completes the level.

 PREVIEW Poltergeist 2

The player has a number of tricks up their sleeve in order to complete each task (with more abilities unlocked as they progress), from levitation and flinging objects through the air to possession and apparitions. The challenge lies in utilising the limited amount of times you can use these abilities to clear the stage. The game features no hint system past the first two skills so it can take some trial and error to discover what each actually does.

Levels are varied and often challenging, though I did find myself shooting through handfuls of stages in the later areas of the game while still being stuck on some from the first half an hour. Often a small slip will mean having to start the level again, and most of the time there is only one way to complete it, resulting in a frustrating series of trial and error experiments.

As you progress the game passes through multiple time periods: from the Victorian 1900s to the neon 1980s and boring modern age of offices. The game is split into 60 stages altogether, including boss battles, but it’s unlikely you will find yourself completing all of them unless you’re a puzzle fanatic.

poltergeist a pixelated horror

Poltergeist doesn’t go all out to wow you in the graphics department and it shows. The 2D sprite models are charmingly animated but reminded me somewhat of the avatars people use on Habbo Hotel. Furniture that can be interacted with is rendered in 3D, which (though an interesting effect as they float through the air) can be slightly jarring to watch amongst the inherently 2D isometric setting.

The games interface is basic but gets the job done. It could use some more polish and a resizing though, as on higher resolutions it began to look very clumpy and discoloured. By contrast the game’s music is excellent, with a number of spooky atmospheric tunes that help to set the scene of your haunting. The screaming of your victims as you scare them (particularly on the fourth or fifth try) can become a little grating but is undoubtedly essential.

Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror, while admittedly not having the hallmarks of a classic, is a functional and enjoyable puzzler with an interesting twist. It’s not meant to be played in long stretches, so those who like to dip in and complete a few levels here and there will enjoy its slow pacing. Those looking for more action to their ghost simulators, however, might be better off waiting for something else.


6.00/10 6

Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror (Reviewed on Windows)

Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.

Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror is a functional and at times enjoyable puzzler with an interesting twist if you can look past its flaws. Those looking for more action to their ghost simulators, though, might be better off waiting for something else.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alex Hamilton

Alex Hamilton

Staff Writer

Financial journalist by trade, GameGrin writer by choice. Writing skills the result of one million monkeys with one million typewriters.

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