Developer: Firaxis Games / Publisher: 2K Games / Played On:iPad, iPhone / Price: Free To Play / ESRB: Rating Pending
Between the iOS spin-off of Borderlands and the upcoming XCOM: Enemy Unknown port this summer, 2K has made some solid pushes into the mobile space. Complementing these familiar IPs is Haunted Hollow, a new Halloween-themed title that walks that fine line in offering both strategy-based depth and all-ages accessibility.
Haunted Hollow presents an all-star roster of familiar monsters including a mummy, a witch, and even a wendigo. Much like the film Monsters Inc., these guys are tasked in scaring people. The difference is that the victims are adult villagers who know how to fight back.
Working alongside the villagers, you have to outlast a rival gang of monsters, controlled by another player on the other end of the village. Playing against a person is a much more rewarding experience than the AI, as the latter lacks challenge. Furthermore, the game doesn’t have a single player narrative, which would have complemented the game’s cartoon-like art direction. The monsters and humans are well designed enough to warrant some kind of light hearted dialogue and exposition, even if it was just through word bubbles.
When playing on the side of the monsters you’re tasked to haunt each house, and when you do the villager takes refuge at the local church. Scare enough of them and the townsfolk will form a mob. Seeing the mob break out of the church is one of the more endearing visuals in what is already a consistently charming game. Yes, you want to avoid them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t admire them for taking a stand.
As with many strategy games, much of your success comes down to maximizing your base resources. That involves building more rooms in your haunted house that leads to more monsters. You won’t be able to go nuts and build 160 rooms like Sarah Winchester, but you do get a nice variety of room interiors.
Haunted Hollow is a free-to-play game, but one that offers in-app products in the most reasonable ways possible. The out-of-the-box cast of monsters (vampire, ghost, zombie, werewolf, Frankenstein) is well-rounded enough that you can hold your own against a player who has paid for a siren, goblin or any of the other optional monsters. Even though there can be imbalances if you’re taking on someone who’s paid a lot of money for special items, you can easily compete if you learn how to upgrade your monsters properly. And if you don’t prefer the default Victorian mansion, you can also purchase other house styles like a lost temple or a mad scientist lab.
With homebuilding, a rival monster summoner, and the justifiably angry villagers, Haunted Hollow offers the kind of multitasking stimulation that is worthy of the attention of real time strategy fans. Granted, the multiplayer is asynchronous, but that makes the game equally welcoming to newcomers of strategy games.
+ Easy to learn strategy gameplay
+ Endearing art style
- Easy battles against the AI
8.5 / 10