Spooky Ghosts Dot Com

We’re still doing Halloween stuff over here. I could have covered another horror game, but as I’ve said before, I’m baby. However, sometimes Halloween stuff has a cutesy aesthetic, with goofy looking ghosts, black cats, glowing smiling jack o’ lanterns, etc. So, I thought to look at something that embodies that look.

Spooky Ghosts Dot Com is a Metroidvania by zertuk, where you play as a ghost hunter named Ruby stuck working a Halloween night. Explore a haunted estate, fight ghosts, pet cats – you know, the works.

While the game has an open map, progression is mainly linear. You don’t have to backtrack to get past obstacles you never could before that much. There are health upgrades in the form of candy filled pumpkins and an optional quest of petting every cat on the map, but most of them are placed behind standard platforming puzzles that don’t require new powers. To me, it makes for a light version of a Metroidvania experience.

How do I feel about playing Spooky Ghosts Dot Com? Well, I think the game is one of those games where there isn’t a big glaring flaw, but a bunch of smaller flaws that stack together to make the game feel aggravating to play.

For instance, those health upgrades. They don’t feel helpful on the normal “ideal” mode, because they only increase health by 1 in a game where most attacks do 3 damage. Your attack range is really short despite already being fairly weak, but the short range doesn’t feel necessary because you rarely have to worry about boss movement to make attacking up close feel risky yet necessary. Save points are placed arbitrarily, with only a few bosses having a save point set up in front of their rooms, which makes the ones that don’t have save points feel frustrating. Bosses have a lot of health, but combined with the fact that most of them are easy to figure out, the boss fights wind up feeling tedious to me. The unlockable air dash resets based on time instead of when you land on the ground, which makes it feel unreliable; granted, this is because it’s tied into the fact it ignores damage, which is actually used to good effect in a later fight, but it doesn’t feel good when just using it for movement.

But that’s not to say that Spooky Ghosts Dot Com is bad. I like the map design and I liked the platforming when it isn’t dependent on the dash. The enemies are also kinda fun, like those weird mages that summon fire geysers out from under you, skeletons that you have to bait into jumping to get by them, angry chef ghosts that try to charge you down, etc. There’s a nice variety of enemies that goes along with the theming of each area and I simply love to see these funky little fellas.

The game’s strongest aspect is easily its art style. It’s simple yet vibrant, with just enough detail to make things look nice but not be distracting. If I had to make a shallow comparison, it really reminds me of Kero Blaster, another action platformer that had a similar simple yet strong art direction. And the chiptune soundtrack? Pretty alright. I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to it, but I enjoyed it.

Spooky Ghosts Dot Com is pretty okay, but it’s one of those things that needs tweaking to really shine. But hey, maybe I’m just picky about how I’d want my action platformers to be and this is a work of art? Either way, I still think it’s an alright game that deserves more attention. If you got that Racial Justice Bundle from a while ago that I keep bringing up, you should already have it – but if you don’t, it’s got a Halloween sale going on if you want it.

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