HAUNTED HOUSE / Atari / 2600



There are people who want Haunted House to be the very first "survival horror" game for some reason, but that doesn't work for me. The connections are real spurious. Yeah, you have matches that only light up for a while then go out, but they're not consumable or something you have to find, you have an infinite supply from the get-go. And yeah, you have a "limited inventory" in the sense that you can only carry one object at a time, and have to alternate between door keys and pieces of the urn that is the overall object of the game, but come on man. That's really reaching. It's really just a typical jonk Atari 2600 game with a bit of a neat horror coating. Might as well call Adventure survival horror while you're at it.

The eyeballs in the dark for your main character, the matches with the limited light radius and the sound work are all neat touches, but otherwise the gameplay is pretty simplistic and gets annoying/boring pretty fast. The overall goal of the game (find 3 urn pieces hidden in the dark on different floors of the mansion) is initially totally unclear unless you happen to have the manual, and while you'll quickly figure out that the indentations on each level are meant to represent stairwells that either go up or down arbitrarily, you won't realize that the ones that don't do anything are actually "locked" until you happen upon a key at random and then wander over to one with it. All there is to do is run around ducking the same three or four monster types while you pick up the keys and the urn bits.

The core gameplay itself is kinda boring but the game also grinds your gears by spawning monsters right on top of you when you switch floors, before you've had a chance to move. If it didn't do that, though, then you'd probably never get killed.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video
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