It’s the time of the year again where the horror and spooks come to life. This is no different from games. It’s been a whole year since I had the honor of reviewing the indie-horror game Phantom Halls by Incendium, and today it was officially released. I’m going to be looking back and seeing how this game has improved, what could be improved, and overall how much I enjoyed it.
Returning to Phantom Halls
So upon starting a new game, I got to admit I love the intro and the tutorial. It’s in-depth and easy to understand everything. It sets up the atmosphere and the backstory of what is going on. So you start with the Goth, Jock, Cheerleader, and the Nerd at a haunted mansion for their group assignment. They come to find out that there are monsters in the mansion, and they believe no one will believe their tale. But worried about the consequences of these monsters running rampant on the town, they find it is their responsibility to fight the evil at night.
So a simple premise that is easy to understand, already I feel drawn into the world of Phantom Halls.
Gameplay and Mechanics
I am glad to say that the gameplay and mechanics were undoubtedly smoother and easier to manage. With the tutorial giving me a rundown, I found myself finding it easy to manage despite its seemingly complex gameplay. You take the place of one to three characters, each with their own unique abilities and weapons/tools that you equip. As you progress through the mansion you can find more possible characters for your party or weapons to defend yourself with.
So, improvements from the early access are obviously the variety. It is much larger now, so choosing which weapons you want for the situation is a factor now. Before you could use any weapon, but now each weapon does differ in situations. Any example is frying pans working more effectively against insects.
There are more mechanics involved with the weapons like guns with crooked sights, meaning the shots aren’t aimed right, or clumsy, which after using the weapon your character has a frame where they stumble. This adds on to the idea that you can’t carelessly go in like a shoot them up, or a hack N slash. Every weapon, character, and choice you make has to be thought out to fit your situation, and it’s nearly impossible to play the game without thinking.
I like that sound is now a thing as well, similar to Fortnite having sound benefits the game. You can hear every monster before you see them, and each are very distinct. So planning what to do, which weapons to have was easier. Not going to lie, the dolls were still scary, especially since they seemed to come in packs of four rather than two now, so knowing what was to come helped my heart a bit.
But I think the biggest change most crucial change, is that you can sprint. Before I did feel quite helpless at times as you moved so slowly. But knowing you can outrun monsters helps tremendously.
The downsides I’m glad to admit are obviously not as evident or that big. The first being I still don’t like the blockades. They’re easier to use now and aren’t as clunky and work as effective barriers, but I still don’t like that you can’t use melee weapons with them. I think having difficulty ratings with the missions would be nice to, as I actually spent half an hour with the ‘Jock sleepover’ mission, only to give up and try another one, and easily pass it. Knowing the difficulty would make navigating the missions easier for new players.
Firstly, I have to give credit to the team for the vast amounts of characters. Having unique abilities plus their passives gives a huge variety of team compositions. My favorite will still have the Goth for her invisible ability, and the Cheerleaders healing ability (which I’m sad to see get nerfed), and I do recommend using these characters more than the Jock or the Nerd for beginners. Unlocking characters has been made easier, and leveling them does feel a bit insignificant at times, but nonetheless, it does actually have a huge impact on the difficulty of the game.
After returning to the game, my only critique is that the characters don’t have more than one play style. They’re very strict in what they can do, Jock is the beefy front line, Goth is the best with guns, Cheerleaders supports the team. The Nerd is the best character due to the fact that you can play multiple play styles with him. He can support the team with the party bonus when he holds a torchlight, or he can frontline and use his ability to destroy hordes of monsters. He’s more flexible than the other starting characters. Maybe instead of being able to unlock all skills in a skill tree, having different pathways or builds could be more interesting and allows players to be more involved in the team they want to play.
Art and Music
Oh boy, a huge thumbs up for the art. The greenhouse is creepy, and now with the mansion needing torchlights as a necessity, makes this game more atmospheric. The music is still creepy and intense, and with the added sounds of monsters, it is amplified. So I honestly have no complaints about the art or the music, it fits the game theme and idea very well still.
Phantom Halls has come a long way in a year, and I’m honestly glad to have the chance to play it again. It is definitely a good game. The art and music are phenomenal for its style, it’s characters are diverse, and the overall gameplay and mechanics makes this game work. It’s a light-hearted horror game, that is perfect for those that want to try horror but are too scared to try. My previous conclusion still stands, that it is not a perfect game, but it is a beautiful one.
- THE GOOD
- Simple plot
- Great characters
- Fun gameplay
- Amazing atmosphere
- Complex and tactical
- THE BAD
- Sometimes clunky
- Has more potential
Phantom Halls is a beautiful designed game that is perfect for people that want to play horror, but are scared of it. It’s a great introduction into the genre with it’s atmospheric childlike design, challenging gameplay, and vast variety of characters. It’s a game that is enjoyable for anyone.