Halloween Scream

Halloween Scream is a text-based adventure where you play as a young man who inherits a haunted house.  Yea, these things always end well.  I’ve done text-based games before on here and they usually leave me wanting to lop off my wrists and replace my hands with sabres to stab myself with.  But, every game I play starts off with a clean slate, so I plugged my nose and dove in.  Then I forgot that being a text-based adventure, this would be a bit shallow and I brained myself on the cement bottom.  Smooth, Cathy.

So many options, I don’t know what to do with myself.

There’s no play control to talk about, or graphics, or sound, or level design, or anything remotely resembling a game.  That leaves me to just talk about the writing, which I have a major problem with.  It’s the tone.  It’s all over the place.  The game sets a dark and somber mood, but then will randomly spit out lines or gags that break the atmosphere with more ease than NASA.  For example, you’ll be examining the servant’s quarters and come across a magazine titled “Repressed Servants Monthly.”  Huh, well that’s both not funny and grossly against the tone I thought they were going for here.   There are lots of moments like that, but the overall story never goes the humor route.  Then again, it doesn’t go the scary route, or the Halloween route either.  I kind of figured a game named “Halloween Scream” would either be scary, be themed around Halloween activities, or both.  Here you get a story involving vampires and it takes place on Halloween, but otherwise, nothing.  What’s the scary thing?  “They brought an awful, long forgotten genre back from the dead!!  AHHHHHHHHH!”

Writing isn’t the only problem.  The game has another consistency problem, this time involving back-tracking.  Being an adventure game, you’ll occasionally pick up trinkets that you’ll need to use along the way.  Sometimes, the game lets you pick up stuff that you have no idea what you’ll be using it for.  Other times, the game will have a “wait, didn’t you see something like this earlier?  Maybe you should go back and get it” moment.  It’s saddest attempt at padding I’ve seen since I stuffed my bra with water balloons at age 12.

My maps were way better. Sure, they were practically illegible, but.. never mind.

Halloween Scream has its moments, like a couple of maze-sections that required me to draw my own maps.  I wish the game had stuck to these, because the writing and exploration are dull, and the false-ending only aggravated me because at that point I was ready for the game to be over with.  Shockingly, I didn’t outright hate Halloween Scream, but I didn’t like it either.  What would be really cool is if someone could do a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark type of game along the lines of this.  Something genuinely spooky, with morbid artwork and a haunting soundtrack.  Otherwise, this genre remains dead.  I’m not sure if that technically makes this a zombie game or not.

Halloween Scream was developed by Bandana Games

80 Microsoft Points forgot to fill the balloons with water in the making of this review.  I told you it was sad.

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

4 Responses to Halloween Scream

  1. Argamae says:

    Hm, so there’s a vampire story behind it? Huh, not like the cover would give that away or anything… gnarf! Disappointing, really. I am usually a sucker for this kind of game – or at least always have been. But like you I found all the offerings on XBLIG enormously lacking. Seems I need to go back to those “fighting fantasy” game books from Jackson/Livingstone of my youth. They are always good for some nostalgia.

  2. BandanaGames says:

    Sorry you didn’t like it (but glad you didn’t hate it). I actually agree with a lot of the things you say in the review (too much backtracking, padding, etc). Interesting what you said about the tone. I put more humour in as people were saying it was too dry and seemed to like the hamminess of the jokes but I can see that it confuses the atmosphere. I guess I should have decided on a theme and stuck with it. The second act was added as people also said that they felt the game was too short. Anyways, many thanks for the review as all feedback is good feedback and I will certainly keep this in mind for the next game. We live and learn… 😉

    • An XBLIG Guy says:

      Actually, I like the humour in this game. It’s true, it doesn’t have all the fancy multimedia tricks that other games employ. I see the XBLIG as a sandbox to experiment and learn. This game tries to be different, and that counts for me.

  3. BandanaGames says:

    Sorry you didn’t like the game (but glad you didn’t hate it). I agree with some of the things you say in the review (a bit too much backtracking, padding, etc). Interesting what you said about the tone. I put more humour in as people were saying it was too dry and seemed to like the hamminess of the jokes but I can see that it confuses the atmosphere. I guess I should have decided on a theme and stuck with it. The second act was added as people also said that they felt the game was too short.

    Anyways, many thanks for the review as all feedback is good feedback and I will certainly keep this these issues in mind for the next game. We live and learn… 😉

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