There are a lot of indie
horror games out there these days, and Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion is something of a love letter to the many terrifying experiences gamers have given each other. However, don't let yourself be fooled by the game's cute appearance; even the cardboard cutouts can be dangerous and some of the things that can happen later on comes right out of your nightmares.
Although this game is played in first person, it's not a first person shooter. Instead, the playful host of this game challenged you to make it through all one thousand rooms of her mansion. Seems simple enough right?
At first, the only "scary" things you encounter are adorable creatures made from cardboard that randomly pop out of the walls. But, as you continue deeper into the mansion, you'll start encountering "specimens"; dangerous monsters that have been gathered together to hunt and kill anyone dumb enough to explore this deathtrap. Each specimen has a unique twist in how they hunt you, so you're going to need to learn their tricks and adapt quickly in order to simply survive.
There are some puzzle to overcome, but on the whole, none of them are very complicated. This is actually a good thing, since these areas tend to be where you meet a specimen for the first time.
For extra difficulty, the sprint mechanic
is a little different than you might expect. You have a stamina meter that goes down as you run around. Once you're out of stamina, you can't run until you stop and rest for a moment. The monsters do NOT have this limitation.
Extremely good pacing makes things scary
You can go through a number of rooms before you encounter anything. Early on, this can make you over confident, and later it helps make you more and more anxious as your imagination plays tricks on you. It's paced well enough that a simple spring-powered cardboard cutout can make you jump out of your chair. Play this game in a quiet room after dark for the best results.
Each monster behaves differently
There are really only about a dozen monsters in the mansion. While running away is usually the best option, a few of them can mess with your ability to see what's around you and some of them can even teleport, so it's not always so easy to get away from them in time.
Randomly generated layouts
There's a good ending
and a bad ending
. Which one you get is determined by how you play after a certain room. Neither ending is exactly serious, which is probably to be expected in a game where cardboard makes up most of the monsters.
The mansion's rooms are completely randomized, though some of the monsters are designed to appear at specific points. Since you can't exactly predict the path ahead, getting away from a monster is harder. Also, checkpoints become less frequent later in the game, meaning you need to make it through more rooms before you're safe.
This isn't an easy game to play through. Some of the monsters are extremely hard to get around, and you'll probably end up getting killed repeatedly by a specific monster before you finally find your way around them. Of course, while you might succeed in getting by one monster, there's nothing stopping the game from having another monster come after you and kill you before the next checkpoint.
In some areas, I kept getting caught on the geometry. This usually resulted in a game over, as most of the monsters can pass through walls or over gaps. It's a very cheap and frustrating way to lose. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if this can be fixed or not, nor am I sure if this happens to people regularly.
Cartoonish bones can be found lying about
Occasionally you'll encounter a room that has some blood on the floor. This usually looks like ketchup, but there are a few places where it's depicted realistically. There are also minigames
that show Spooky brutally murdering people. These minigames
are optional and really only exist to highlight Spooky's real personality.
That said, most of the blood you'll be seeing is a red gash that briefly appears on the screen when a monster injures you.
Every so often you'll see a skull, pile of bones or ribcages lying on the floor. These are drawn in the same cartoony, cute style that you see at the beginning of the game, which can make people forget just how creepy things can get.
The monsters are very unsettling
The game over screens are often nightmare fuel
One of the ways the various monsters are made just a little bit more unsettling is that they aren't depicted using the game's normal cute and cuddly style. Instead, they are depicted using either realistic designs or another atypical style. In fact, it's safe to say that with the exception of the cardboard monsters, each specimen is based on either a horror cliche or popular creepypasta
When you are killed by a monster, you get a little cutscene
before being told that your soul is trapped in an endless maze. Which cutscene
you get is determined by which monster killed you. The worst of these (by far) is the one you get when caught by the monster known as the Puppet (aka Specimen 6). Fortunately, the scene cuts away just before the giant nail actually enters your eyeball.