Like a DIY homeowner, Nintendo loves to tinker with its franchises, rarely content with the original blueprints enough to merely rely on lazy (and often profitable) property development. Their latest fixer-upper project is Luigi’s Mansion 3, which seeks to nail down a few loose boards in the previous game’s design, while also supplying new dream additions that make the latest haunted house’s space — and gameplay — feel even more expansive. Whether all the gorgeous lath and plaster is covering up something rotten in the walls remains to be seen (doubtful), but after spending around ten hours nabbing ghosts and mercilessly ransacking every room in sight, here’s what sticks out the most:
Though the original Luigi’s Mansion and its 3DS sequel, Dark Moon, are certainly no slouches on the visual side of things, Luigi’s Mansion 3 takes opulence to a whole new level (or floor). Plush lobbies and stately suites are jam-packed with rich detail and fantastic artistry like never before, showcasing the incredible attention Next Level Games has paid to each hallway and room. There simply is so much decoration and craft here that players will likely be poring over each minute object in every corner for any clues as to possible secrets. Even better, so many of these objects are specific to the floor they are on, reinforcing the theme and aiding in creating a distinct look for each level.
A creepy car port, a shudder-filled shopping area, and a ghastly garden are just some of the areas Luigi will initially wander through in his search for his missing friends. The variety, inventiveness, and polish put into each floor’s visuals will likely have players wide-eyed and eager to see what comes next.
In addition, wonderful effects enhance the atmosphere, whether through the tactile textures of puffy cushions, the slick sheen of a reflective marble floor, or dynamic lighting that plays up the both the silly and spooky side of things. Quite simply, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a sight to behold. While the hotel setting might not give off the same musty, classic haunted house vibes that the first two games went for, the lack of dust particles in the air won’t be noticed after those first heart-thumping lightning flashes illuminate an approaching poltergeist bell hop. It’s no competition — this is far and away the best the series has looked, and not just because it’s in HD.
Stay as Long as You Like
One of the major gripes with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is that players are constantly getting kicked out of levels after completing objectives, thus tearing them away from the exploration. It’s a valid point (even to big fans like myself), but thankfully Next Level Games and Nintendo have listened to the critique; the design of Luigi’s Mansion 3 does a good job of not getting in the way of Boo-hunting or the search for hidden crystals. Beating a boss is simply that, putting players back in control of Luigi exactly where the fight started, and it’s up to them whether to go straight for the next story or stick around to ferret out some loot.
Sure, there are a couple moments when Luigi is called to confer with a certain bespectacled professor. And sure, E. Gadd may incessantly bother them until they finally relent, but these interactions are very few and far between; for the vast majority of the time (in the first half, at least) the experience of wandering the hotel is seamless, uninterrupted by forced conferences, and it’s a freeing feeling. An elevator connects most of the floors, so load times aren’t out of the equation, but even during these rides Luigi is fully controllable, adding to the sense that one is still playing the game. It’s a nice touch.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 thankfully follows in the footsteps of Dark Moon when it comes to gameplay, giving the Poltergust G-00 plenty of functions that go beyond merely vacuuming everything up in a suction rush, as well as getting a more interactive setting involved. The Strobulb is back, as is the Dark Light, which should make fans feel relatively comfortable in Luigi’s work boots again, but there have been some new moves added to the plumber’s repertoire that flesh out his ability to fully explore every inch of the hotel. These moves go a long way toward making the experience feel fresh, and not just like a graphical upgrade.
The most clever and useful of these is Gooigi, a more stoic, green jello version of the nervous hero that oozes out the back of the Poltergust and lets players switch between controlling each character. Because he’s made of goo, Gooigi can squeeze through bars or fall into drain pipes, reaching areas previously inaccessible by his more solid counterpart. He also comes equipped with a Poltergust of his own, meaning that the two can sometimes work in conjunction with each other. Next Level Games has constructed some wonderful puzzles that take advantage of this gameplay, forcing players to occasionally think outside the box.
The next best addition is a suction cup that Luigi fires out of the Poltergust. This projectile trails a short rope, and can be attached to certain objects around the room — as well as some wielded by attacking ghosts. After Luigi suctions the string, he can perform a slam move where he yanks the rope to rip off electrical box covers or smash suitcases, spilling their treasure. Like with Gooigi, this move forces players to look at objects in a room that they may never have before, and the slam — which also plays a delightful role in combat — can be utilized for more than one thinks.
Last, there’s also a jump, which sends Luigi flying wildly into the air, pushing back enemies and disturbing whatever fragile items might be nearby. It’s not a game-changer, but yet another option to consider when surrounded or stumped. In combination with a comprehensive physics system, these new abilities not only give Luigi’s Mansion 3 an enormous amount of variety, but also inspire creative experimentation like never before. And impressively, nearly every weird maneuver — every idea as to whether or not “that” might work — paid off in gleefully rewarding ways. Next Level Games was smart to allow this level of freedom, as it turns the object-rich hotel into a funhouse that far surpasses the interactivity of the previous two games. When wandering this place, don’t forget to have some fun and try everything.
After playing quite a bit of Luigi’s Mansion 3, it’s fair to say that this is shaping up to be the culmination of everything good about its predecessors. Look for our full review when the game releases October 31st.