Quite recently, the horror genre has had somewhat of a revival in the gaming community. Gamers with fond, or not so fond, memories of soiling themselves while playing the likes of Silent Hill and the old Resident Evil games have strangely found themselves wanting to be soiled yet again, several decades down the line. The rise of Youtuber facecam playthroughs of horror games only serve to further add fuel to the fire of nostalgia. Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion-formerly known as Spooky’s House of Jump Scares-is one of these such games that has taken Youtube by storm. An unfortunate fact is that with all the attention these games get, just how good they are can be blown completely out of proportion. Not to insult the fans of those games, I just think you can like games without praising them like the next coming of Jesus. So today, I will be reviewing Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion! Is it a terrifying test of your sanity? Or is it just another overrated game, its terror greatly exaggerated by the community? Let’s find out!
First off, what’s the premise? You play the role of an “avid history enthusiast” who visits an old mansion with unknown origins… and that’s pretty much it! Although the story is simple, it gives the creators a chance to play around with a variety of ideas. The story acts as just a simple seed, allowing ideas to grow from it as branches and allow people to make their own interpretations. Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion’s story is near non-existent but that doesn’t really detract from the overall experience. Instead it gives you the impression that anything can happen, keeping you on edge in expectation of whatever might be around the next corner.
There isn’t much gameplay to speak of either. Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion is an axe chop away from being considered a walking simulator. You run. You run through corridors, you run through rooms. You run away from monsters and occasionally you walk. You run, run and run and that’s pretty much what makes up 95% of the game. Eventually, you’ll get an axe that you can use to attack with left click but most of the monsters in the game can be slowed down, at the most, by a swift strike to the face. The game ends with a decent boss fight but that’s not really where the spirit of the game lies. I would argue that this stripping of mechanics actually makes the horror all that more frightening. Having less options means you feel more vulnerable, less prepared and like you can’t really defend yourself. Running from something is one of humanity’s most primal instincts so in a weird way, all this running is actually a good thing. And you’ll be doing a lot of it in the game’s randomly generated rooms.
Your ultimate goal in the game is to drag yourself a total of 1,000 floors into the mansion to hopefully escape the hell house. Despite there being a variety of different rooms, there are still nowhere near enough to ensure you don’t encounter the same room a dozen times throughout your grim adventure. The running can still get incredibly repetitive considering some of the time, you won’t even be chased by something meaning the dull and drab room designs can get a bit tiring to look at. Not to say there aren’t any good room designs, there are many but they are unfortunately few and far between. I liked the quaint, little arcade room that seemed completely out of place in the usually austere environment and contained a few… disturbing games. I also liked the database room which gives you information and background on the many monsters, or ‘specimens’ as they are called in game, including their ‘kill count’. The best rooms however, are easily the specimen-themed ones that sometimes contain notes that give you a better idea of how they came to be. Some of my favourites are the temple-like ruins, metallic Silent Hill ritual room and a creepily silent Mcdonalds of some kind. These all appear at specific floors before introducing you to their ghastly inhabitant though unfortunately they never appear again after.
Easily the best part of Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion is the malevolent monsters themselves. It’s clear a lot of time was spent designing them to make them look as eerie and chilling as possible. Some of them are the creations of the developers dark mind while others are delightfully spine-chilling homages to various other series. Specimen 5, a faceless mannequin like creature wielding a startlingly sharp and gargantuan sword is obviously inspired by the relentless behemoth Pyramid Head from Silent Hill. Specimen 6 is a puppet with the disturbing, get-under-your-skin face of the happy mask salesman from the Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Specimen 12 is based on the masked killers such as Jason or Michael Myers that were popular when horror films were in there infancy. Visually, the specimens are varied, as spooky as the title suggests and each seem to belong to their own sub-genre of horror. Mechanically however…
The main problem with the monsters in Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion is not that they’re not scary, nor that they don’t look particularly threatening. It’s that mechanically, the majority of the specimens are incredibly similar to each other. Let me give you an example. Specimen 2 chases you and occasionally slows you down with goo on the floor. Specimen 3 chases you but crawls instead of walks. Specimen 4… chases you. And guess what, Specimen 8 chases you! There are a few shining examples that step away from the typical chase you until they’re suddenly gone approach however. Specimen 5, although slow, confuses you with hallucinations and fog. Specimen 10 does the complete opposite, brutally charging you down and quickly ending your life if you get too far away from it. And Specimen 7… that thing is just a direct attack on your sanity. Unfortunately, these are few and far between and the aforementioned Specimen 7 is only able to be encountered once.
Overall, Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion is a surprisingly unique and often sinister indie horror game. There’s a save point every 50 levels so you fortunately don’t have to go through the entire game in one run otherwise it would be a major bad point considering my playthrough took me a total of four hours to complete. It may not seem like much but it’s a fair length when you consider the fact that the base game is completely free! At the very least, Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion is worth a look. At best, it’s a clever, bloodcurdling little game that provides a few hours of scares. I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you’re looking for a resurrection of those frayed nerves you forgot you had when you spent a night watching those classic horror films and playing Resident Evil.
- Variety of monsters
- Diverse range of spooky music
- Decent length for a free game
- Open story
- Genuinely terrifying at some points
- Not much variation in monster mechanics
- Rooms are quite repetitive
Play the game for free here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/356670/