Luigi’s Mansion 3 review – sometimes daring, sometimes haunted

There’s a moment around the midway point of Luigi’s Mansion 3 where you open a door to a room that’s not really a room and you think – wow. It absolutely sells the game’s themed hotel setting, but also completely negates it. I suspect the room is, on purpose, an actual sandbox: a vast puzzle-filled desert that stretches over the game’s ancient Egyptian-themed floor – and it’s glorious. But why a mansion or a hotel when you can do this?

Ever since our first look at Luigi’s Mansion 3 — the medieval castle level revealed at E3 — it’s been clear that it will push the series even further than its traditional mansion format. I remember thinking, well, well – we’ve already had two traditional haunted house games. It felt like the right time for Nintendo and developer Next Level Games to try something different – even if its themed hotel felt less like a themed hotel version than a medieval castle and more like the real thing.

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Just as Luigi’s Mansions are quaint halfway houses for its ghostly inhabitants, this third installment feels like a mix of the series’ traditional formula with an injection of the new. And while the game may well close the GameCube to some destinations – your trusty Poltergeist vacuum ghosts and money from every crevice – it’s not until you explore some of its themed areas. Don’t start doing that the whole thing comes into itself.

The Ancient Egypt moment is followed by several others in a similar vein – and each time the elevator dings and its doors open to a new floor, you’re left guessing what will happen next. A Hollywood movie studio with a ghost director ready to cast you in his new kaiju movie? Surely the sewer level where Luigi has to do the actual plumbing while sailing the boat? why not. These settings are where the game really shines — but also when it abandons the premise of the hotel in the process.

Luigi's Mansion 3 review - sometimes daring, sometimes haunted
Luigi’s Mansion 3 review – sometimes daring, sometimes haunted

The whole thing still makes sense – what better way to connect such thematically separate areas than with hotel elevator floors, used to quickly zip between them all. ? And yet it doesn’t really play as well as I expected. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a surprisingly linear game, and it took me 15 hours to clear its story, forcing me to backtrack only three times – for suggested, and sometimes quite laborious, story reasons.

On. I expected a more Metroidvania-y experience, with doors locked behind rooms I’d have to go back to later. But after Google’s initial introduction there are no new power-ups, no new mechanics to learn. Each floor is presented as its own discrete course, then it varies somewhat.

Gogi, though – what a star he is. A blank-faced avatar for your co-partner, or just a gelatinous double for when you need another pair of hands. He’s quietly terrifying – a living Haribo man, barely sentient, unable to move unless under someone else’s control – and yet he’s often part of the game’s most trying puzzles.

Yes, there are only a few new mechanics to learn before you get to what’s available – but the game squeezes a lot out of them. Whether it’s a certain sequence of actions required to weaken the ghosts or a puzzle that requires both Luigi and Gooigi’s power to solve, there are moments when I’m surprised (a little disappointed) that Why did everything I tried still not happen? worked

I often felt that Luigi’s Mansion 3 was at its best when it wasn’t really a Luigi’s Mansion game at all – when zipping between stores in a shopping mall, or flashing through TV screens on movie sets where you could see real CGI props. (Just leave the logic at home and enjoy).

Then there are the real panic-inducing parts where Luigi is put under pressure from environmental hazards – getting stuck in walls, etc. – where you have seconds to solve a puzzle and quickly switch between him and Gigi. Micromanage as the spikes come down. This is wonderful. And while it’s not the old Luigi’s Mansion, it has the same spirit.

When all is said and done, chances are you still have a lot to do. I’ve barely even finished finding any of the game’s hidden Boo enemies – that’s where the backtracking comes into play, although the ones I’ve found, it’s just a matter of retracing your steps. until your controller vibrates (you can pay to see their locations, but after that, it deducts currency from your final score). Similarly, the game collects gems, of which there are half a dozen on each level. I only netted about three-quarters of my game time, as much as possible.

Part of me still longs for those dusty carpets from the first Luigi’s Mansion – the near pitch black corridors, wandering around in the dark. In contrast, this third entry feels more like Luigi has left the haunted house and has free reign around the neighboring theme park.

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