This is an R.L Crime
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. The Goosebumps property holds a very special place in my heart. I, like many other people in their mid to late 20s, devoured ghoulish tales written by R.L Stine in the early 90s. I loved stories such as Welcome to Horrorland, The Haunted Mask, Monster Blood and many, many more. I also watched the TV show religiously after school (and I still catch a few episodes now and then – thanks Netflix!) and seeing some of my favourite stories come to life on screen was, at the time, an incredible experience. Before Harry Potter came along, Goosebumps was my life, and kick-started an obsession with horror books and movies that has lasted to this very day.
Now, I knew going into Goosebumps: The Game that it wouldn’t exactly be a masterpiece. Originally released as a prequel to the 2015 Jack Black movie, I wasn’t quite prepared for just how bad this game really is. It’s heartbreaking, really. Developed by WayForward Technologies, it’s quite clear to me that Columbia Pictures approached the studio and basically said, “here, make this, and make it quick”. There’s no passion put into this game, no respect for the property. WayForward aren’t a bad developer, either – anyone who’s played The Mummy Demastered can tell you that. But Goosebumps: The Game is a perfect example of a game rushed out the door purely for the cynical purpose of squeezing just a bit more money out of fans.
Taking place within a typical suburban neighbourhood, you choose to take control of either a boy or a girl which you can name yourself. The gameplay is very much a standard take on the point and click adventure – you progress from screen to screen and move a painfully slow cursor to click on anything and everything that looks even remotely useful. Admittedly, there are a few ‘quality of life’ shortcuts available – rather than pressing A to bring up a mini menu prompting you to either look at an item or interact with it, you can simply press ZL to look at an item, or ZR to interact with it. Similarly, you can use the Joy-Con’s directional buttons to move to other areas with relative ease.
The problem is, it’s just so bad from start to finish. Much of the experience revolves around reading text as you interact with the world, and it’s so unbelievably poor, it makes me cringe just thinking about it. R.L Stine will never win any awards for exquisite prose, but I don’t think even he would be able to cope with what’s written here. To make matters worse, the puzzles presented are shockingly executed – you’ll be using items in ways that make little sense, picking up other items that genuinely serve no purpose, and you’ll need to progress through dialogue options in just the right way in order to survive. One wrong move and you’ll die – but don’t worry, when you click on ‘retry’ you’ll be plonked right back onto the same screen, having lost absolutely no progress. No incentive, no consequence… no point.
I could go on and on about how much this game disrespects the Goosebumps property, but all you need to know is that you really shouldn’t buy this game. Go read a book instead, you’ll enjoy it more.