Luigi’s Mansion is one of those series that seemingly came out of left field. When it was announced that Luigi would be getting his own star role for the GameCube launch, people were dubious. What came was nothing like any Mario game before it, and it has stuck with fans ever since, albeit through scattered releases and easter eggs in other Mario franchises. So when a full-console third installment was announced last September, people lost their minds. Luigi’s Mansion 3 has that Nintendo polish we know and love: The mansion is gorgeous, the character animations are stylized, and the music is unbelievably good. While it may not scare you like Resident Evil or The Last of Us, there is still some low-level eeriness. So if you’re too old for trick-or-treating and too chickenshit for other horror games, this is the perfect pick for your Halloween gaming.
Right when you start Luigi’s Mansion 3, before the mansion is even spooky yet, the Mario brothers, toads, and Peach say real, actual words—and more of them than I was prepared for. Warning: This may be scary to some. It haunts that middle ground between cute and Philips CD-i nightmare. Luigi continues to speak independent words, my favorite being “doggy,” which provides an important piece of cannon for the series. Luigi is now more articulate, and arguably intelligent, than Mario. Sure, Mario can run and jump and save the princess with no fear, but Luigi’s too smart for that. He sees what there is to fear in their nightmarish mushroom world, and he knows those monsters can take him out.
On one of the game’s tutorial paths, I got my fair share of spooks. Luigi’s Mansion loves its spiders and rats, which are already much scarier than the ghouls, but Nintendo went too far with this one. While looking through a hole in a wall, I heard shuffling and crawling getting louder and louder. I kept waiting for whatever secret was about to be revealed to me, and then it happened: A disgusting golden spider crawled right across my screen. I screamed, Luigi screamed, and then I thoroughly patted down my couch cushions to be sure nothing could hurt me.
While the spider almost made me quit the game, it did showcase another one of Luigi’s Mansion 3’s strengths—the phenomenal sound design, which is some of the best sound I’ve heard in a game, from spiders crawling to furniture shaking. Beyond just the audio atmosphere, the music is remarkable. (A personal favorite of mine is the jazzy rendition of the titular theme song.) Each of the floors has drastically different themes, which makes each thrilling to explore. And with each comes music that’s totally correct. There’s a maestro stage with classical music, and a mall stage with a goofy security guard named Kruller and that rad ’80s buddy cop music.
And then there are the jump scares around the mansion. Maybe you pass a painting and it falls and shatters, or you open a drawer and a wicked face flies out with sparks spewing everywhere. It’s all very cute, but it may also get you to flinch. It’s this type of intense world-building and care that Nintendo keeps injecting into its games to make them addictive—a surprise (literally) around every corner.
The mansion harbors a ton of unique bosses, from that mall cop Kruller (yep, probably a donut pun) to the Mad Maestro Amadeus Wolfgeist, and every boss battle also works as its own independent puzzle that can sometimes take some serious thinking to figure out. Due to Luigi’s deep arsenal of tools, there are often several ways to accomplish any given task. You can flash multiple ghosts to suck them all up at the same time or pick one victim and use that ghost to bash the others. Sometimes, you may want to use the black lite, tag team with Gooigi, or use the suction shot. Regardless of how you choose to tackle them, Luigi’s Mansion definitely opens itself up to different play styles. The game also features several multiplayer modes and co-op.
Nintendo is getting exhausting, with its constant releases of top-tier games, and with such a game-heavy end of the year, you’ll definitely have some hard choices to make on what to play next. Luigi’s Mansion 3 for Switch is a must. It’s pure charm. But, you know, spooky too. Obviously, it comes out on October 31.