By Christopher Healy,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Spooky but not too scary mystery is set in the dark.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This is a game about shocks and scares; it doesn't really carry a message of any kind. But playing in co-op mode requires two people to work very closely in unison and constantly help one another out. That kind of cooperation sends a positive message.
Positive Role Models
The brother and sister duo who are the heroes of the game work together well. They're scared, but they stay strong in the face of fear because they have to.
Ease of Play
There are three levels of difficulty which are truly very different from one another. The easiest level should allow novice gamers to get by without much difficulty, while the highest level should pose a decent challenge to gaming veterans.
Violence & Scariness
More spooky than violent, the game features ghosts, feral rats, and other monsters that will chase and attack you in the dark. If they hit you, the borders of the screen briefly flash red. Monsters are destroyed by light, vanishing in a puff of smoke. One of the creepiest elements in the game is your health meter, which shows your character's face. The more health you lose, the sicklier the face looks, until it's finally a skull and your game is over. No blood can be seen in the action, but two of the "trophy" items you can find -- a candlestick and a chainsaw -- have drips of blood on them.
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One of the "achievements" you can earn in the game contains the text: "We came, we saw, we kicked ass."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Haunted House is an action/strategy game set mostly in the dark. When your character doesn't have a light on, all you see of him is his eyes. Ghosts and monsters constantly appear out of the shadows to startle you -- and then chase you. These supernatural creatures are not designed to look truly menacing, but they do get scarier-looking as the game progresses. In the world of horror video games, though, this is about as tame as you get. Still, kids who are afraid of the dark should probably stay away, lest nightmares result. Playing co-op requires two people to work very closely together and can be a good experience for kids.
Where to Play
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What’s It About?
The plot to HAUNTED HOUSE follows a brother and sister who go looking for their grandfather after he mysteriously disappears. A letter leads them to a spooky old house, but as soon as the duo enters, they find themselves locked inside. Ghosts and monsters appear everywhere from the darkness, and the heroes must constantly find and use temporary light sources (matches, candles, cell phones, torches, etc.) to both find their way and to zap the ghouls. All the while, they need to search every shelf and drawer they can find in order to locate keys that will let them progress further into the mansion, and hopefully to an exit.
Is It Any Good?
This Haunted House is an update of a way-old Atari 2600 cartridge game from the '80s. The graphics are improved a thousand-fold, but the central gameplay concept is basically the same: You run through dark rooms, avoiding ghosts and looking for light sources. This is definitely a fun game, but it does lack a bit in the variety department. Thankfully, there are some very neat boss battles that come along to break up the monotony. There's a genuine storyline here, too, which you can slowly reveal as you find and read diary pages hidden throughout the house. It's a spooky tale, but like the rest of the game, not too terrifying. In a market flooded with ultra-gory M-rated horror games, it's very nice to have one that younger players can turn to for a fun scare.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the difference between entertainment that is spooky fun and that which is truly frightening. It can be fun to be scared, but when does a game cross the line from fun into disturbing?
Co-op play in this game takes a lot of teamwork. How do you handle it when your partner is better or worse than you at the game? What lessons can you learn from this?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii, Windows, Xbox 360
- Available online?: Not available online
- Publisher: Atari
- Release date: September 28, 2010
- Genre: Adventure
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Language, Mild Blood, Mild Cartoon Violence
- Last updated: August 30, 2016
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