Goosebumps HorrorTown

App review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Goosebumps HorrorTown App Poster Image
Quirky but repetitive creepshow sim has heavy consumer push.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Play is a simple matter of following quest lines by placing items and starting actions. You have to manage things like inventory, available space, and finding components for certain items/quests, but it's pretty self-explanatory.

Violence

Goosebumps franchise walks a balance between kid-friendliness and horror, offering spooky thrills but not outright terror. Gameplay follows suit, with monsters and scary tales but no blood or gore. The most graphic thing is a ghost kid walking around with his unattached head.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Constantly pushes players to watch ads to earn small amounts of in-game currency or complete certain actions early. While it's possible to play without spending any real money, it's a long grind to earn any significant amount of premium currency, which is used for many actions and items, including special buildings and characters that can't be acquired any other way.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Goosebumps HorrorTown is a city builder/simulation game for iOS and Android devices that's based on the popular Goosebumps kids' horror franchise. Players build their own unique town, which is inhabited by both humans and supernatural creatures, and complete quests to expand their town and open up new adventures. Although the game has its roots in horror, it's not too scary for young players, and there's no blood or gore (the worst thing in the game is a ghost kid with a detached head). Gameplay is simple enough for younger players, but the constant push to watch ads or to spend money on in-game currency in order to complete actions early or buy exclusive content means that this app isn't a great fit for little kids. Plus, certain items and buildings can't be acquired unless players spend real money to buy them.

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What's it about?

Based on R.L. Stine's popular children's horror stories, GOOSEBUMPS HORRORTOWN gives players the chance to build their own idyllic suburban community, complete with late-night drive-ins, neighborhood grocery stores, haunted graveyards, and ancient Egyptian burial grounds. This is the world of Goosebumps, after all, a place where ghosts and monsters lurk around every corner. The school headmistress might be teaching kids in the morning and snacking on them at night, and those decorative garden gnomes might have a secret life of their own. Players send characters out on chains of quests, uncovering the supernatural secrets of their quaint little slice of suburbia, and then send out their collections of creepy creatures to give the townsfolk a good old-fashioned fright.

Is it any good?

Sometimes it's fun to be scared, and for more than 25 years, the Goosebumps books have been giving kids reasons to sleep with the lights on. Now those same kids can cause a few scares of their own with Goosebumps HorrorTown. At its core, this is a pretty basic city-building sim. You've got a small bit of land to put down buildings and decorations, which give you resources and townsfolk, which you then send on small quests to earn enough XP to level up and expand. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. What breaks the cycle up here is the horror element. Over the course of building your town, you'll get access to special buildings and characters that you can send out to terrorize the streets. Build up the fear in town enough, and you earn milestone rewards. It's essentially just another resource to farm, but it also helps break up the monotony.

Speaking of monotony, that's easily the game's biggest weakness. While it's interesting to watch characters' quest lines play out at first, it's not long before you realize that they're all the same. You're either building something and waiting for it to finish, or you tell someone to do something and wait for it to be done. In fact, most of the game is spent waiting for something to finish. There's an option to speed things along by either using sparse in-game currency or watching ads, but neither is ideal. As a result, you're either spending actual money just to move things along, or you're spending more time watching sponsored videos than playing the game. Eventually, things break down to where you'll log in just long enough to set things in motion before finding something else to do with the rest of your day. Despite this, there's an odd sort of appeal to crafting your own little suburban utopia, then listening to the screams of the happy townsfolk as they run for their lives from garden gnomes, zombies, and, of course, the masters of all fear: clowns.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about consumerism in games. Do licensed games like Goosebumps HorrorTown encourage kids to buy the Goosebumps books, or vice versa? What sort of influence does watching in-game ads have on kids and their spending habits?

  • What's the appeal of scary books and films? How can they affect younger audiences? Why is it sometimes fun to be scared?

  • What kind of simulations do you like to play? Are you a fan of historical simulations or city builders? Can playing these games help you understand how cities and societies are built and maintained?

App details

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For kids who love scares

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