First Looks// EGX First Looks: Haunt the House, Hookball, Induction

Posted 30 Oct 2014 13:04 by
Chris has been at it again, haunting the floor of any games show careless enough to leave an air vent accessible from the outside. Recently he was at EGX, putting his hands on any- and everything he could. Here, he reports back.

Haunt the House by SFB Games

Not every game has to last 400 hours duration and have seven DLC add-on expansions that then go on to provide another 400 hours of experience that only students, novelists and freelance journalists can possibly have any hope of ploughing through. Some only last 20 minutes and that's OK. Especially when those 20 minutes consist of scaring cartoon characters out of their wits by simply possessing a clock.

Haunt the House is a fun arcade game that has the player controlling a ghost whose job it is to scare the living residents out of all of the buildings in a town, and to have some of those people become ghosts themselves. Once they do they become installed into the central clock tower building, condemned to haunt there for eternity. Sounds a bit harsh I know, but if they'd had the decency to scarper like everyone else they would not have met such a fate! But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

The town that Haunt the House is set in is the game's stage. The buildings act as a type of level, with the clock tower being hub from which the other buildings can be reached. Each building is filled to the brim with living people and objects the player can interact with. It is the latter element that is the main generator of entertainment from Haunt the House as the player's only means to scare people is to make objects do inexplicable things.

Initially the actions are very subtle; such as to spin a plate that is hanging on a well or to rotate the hands of a wall clock in a random manner. As the building's residents are scared off the overall terror level grows to the point where the player's abilities to manipulate things become even more potent.

From merely spinning a plate the player can now split it into two and have it snap at the living, which they find even more terrifying and the level of fright grows even more. Eventually things reach an absolute crescendo as the player is able to do all manner of scary things that even the ghosts in Ghostbusters would balk at.

Haunt the House is a very quick game as the player is only required to scare this one collection of buildings clear of its occupants at which point the game ends and an overall score is given. There is some point chasing to be had, which can be optimised based on the efficiency of terror being dealt by the player.

The visuals are basic cartoon-like 2D sprites that are wonderfully animated, especially when the residents flee for their lives as they scream their way out of a nearby window in absolute terror. There are also set piece animations for those too stubborn to run, who are actually killed via an indirect action of the player. These are akin to the Mouse
Trap contraption from the board game in which a sequence of events leads to the demise of the stubborn resident.

While short, Haunt the House is a really well put-together game that is so much fun to play. It's out now on Windows PC and Mac.

Hookball by Nachobeard

Within the Left Field section of EGX 2014 there was a sign that asked how long players could last when playing Hookball. An iPad 2 or higher game, Hookball is defiant over how intensely difficult it is and demands the player considers every move carefully for they only have one life and along with that a timer that is constantly ticking down. It's not often that games wear their level of difficulty with honour. Nachobeard, the Spanish developer of Hookball, set out to make an arcade game with 'weird' controls; and Hookball certainly is that.

Taking place over a lake of lava, the player is a black-clad ninja who hooks onto enemies that float about the screen. He can latch on to them as well as punch and throw them to other enemies, causing them to explode into a shower of coins. These coins can be picked up be moving through them while hooked onto another enemy. All of this is done by simple touch controls, with little in the way of swiping nor the dreaded virtual joystick that is the bane of many an iOS and Android game.
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