Just in time for Halloween, Phantom Halls is sure to delight fans of the horror genre. A B-movie at its core (B-game?), Phantom Halls unabashedly steeps itself in the horror genre using every trope and goofy, campy item possible. Your crew? They are your jock, nerd, goth, and cheerleader stereotypes of the 80s. Your objective? Uncover what's going on at the spooky house in town everyone only mentions while whispering, but won't ever go near.
The game's premise is what most horror shlock always is: figure out what's going on and attempt to rid the world from the monstrosity before it kills you and everyone else. Your initial party of four teens are from the Occult Studies Club. They set out to get to the bottom of the mystery of the scary mansion in town. You'll chop, beat, and shoot your way through a horde of undead zombies, skeletons, and worse as you traverse the procedurally generated mansion's dark halls.
The game's control mechanics are quite interesting. You use both the mouse and keyboard, with the mouse controlling the camera, aiming, and your party leader's actions, including item management in this unique comedy-horror side-scroller. You'll use the keyboard to perform side to side movements, interacting with objects and attacking with the rest of your group. If you desire to take enemies down swiftly, you may want to combine your attacks. You'll also be able to block incoming attacks and trigger each character's unique ability to assist in your attempt to survive the mansion. The party limit is only three characters, so keep that in mind while exploring.
Aside from the game's quirky combat approach, there are also additional role-playing elements. Incendium went to lengths to ensure these archetypal heroes are all vastly different in their abilities and strengths. The Jock, for example, is focused on blocking damage, knocking enemies back, and generally being an excellent looking macho type. Even his papercraft appearance sports a blonde pompadour and letterman jacket from Corman High! These efforts at differentiating the protagonists, as well as building the procedurally generating maps and cartoonish looking enemies, helps to create a unique experience on top of the B-movie campiness. Even the one-liners reach back to the terrible horror movies we all know and love dearly. Heck, the developers also have officially licensed content from Evil Dead 2, including Ash Williams!
One of the best aspects of the game, and the one I think most will be drawn to, is just how this game brings so much horror and campiness to the player's screen. It's still challenging to manage your inventory, your party's health, and your overall awareness of the environment amongst the ghouls and goblins you'll face, but each case will help bring you closer and closer to the truth of what's going on inside the haunted mansion. It's neat to have a character start searching a dresser while your other party member(s) hold off the undead onslaught. Just do your best to keep an eye and manage your inventory! Using guns is a fun alternative to getting up close and personal with a baseball bat or sledgehammer, but rifles and pistols do take ammunition. I found myself scrambling in the middle of a fight when ammo became scarce in an attempt to find anything that will help me attack the undead before dying.
While it can be challenging, Phantom Halls is a cheesy horror movie lover's dream game. The combination of fun gameplay, RPG elements, and an oddball story about the "Slayer Club" (wink wink) in their efforts to save their town show just how far Incedium is willing to go to show their love of B-movie Horror. There are so many callbacks to iconic franchises (Evil Dead DLC anyone?) There's some definite challenge as well, which I think many will enjoy.
Note: The Phantom Hall review is based on a digital PC copy of the game, provided by the publisher.