Haunted (2011)

Haunted (2011), developed by Deck 13 Interactive, published by dtp Entertainment AG

Mary is on a quest of finding her sister. Or, not really her sister, but what happened to her and why she is seeing her ghost. Her road takes her to an evil professor Ashcroft and her dimwitted henchman Ethan, who might have something to do with the disappearance of Mary's sister. As it is, Ashcroft is doing experiments in trapping ghosts and she has used Mary's sister to aid her, as she can, just as Mary, see ghosts.

In order to escape Ashcroft, Mary needs to team up with Oscar, a pirate ghost, that has some special skills of his own, mainly being very handy around fire and electrics. After they get out, Oscar stays around to help Mary in her quest and they head out to London, from where they recruit the ghost of William Wallace and a Chinese philosopher Confucius.

After some puzzle solving, the road takes the trio to Scotland, from where they finally find Emily's ghost as well as a dead pope. Emily isn't really dead, but only trapped, so instead of just trying to place her sister in peace, Mary now needs to race the clock (not really, as there's no time in the game) to get her out from the hands of Ashcroft.

Another trip takes the expanding troupe to Romania, from where they find a wolf to tack among them and get trapped in a home of the genie's bottle. Or an aquarium, really. And it's not really a genie's bottle, but the current home of Confucius. But they need to escape it none the less. And during this ordeal, a ghost of a goldfish joins them, though she does look like a mermaid more than a fish.

The final showdown takes place in jolly old London, where Mary heads on to tackle Ashcroft when she's just about to transfer her spirit inside Emily. The whole thing has been about spirit transfer, as Ashcroft is sick and has come to a conclusion this is the way she could possibly live forever. So a little puzzling later, Mary rescues her sister, gets rid of Ashcroft and even releases some trapper ghosts at the same time. All rejoice.

As a final matter, there's an extra chapter, where Mary and Emily need to find a way to contact their parents. This happens by doing some special missions to a clearly non-Chinese Chinese store owner in London. The reward of doing these tasks is a clue about music box, that takes them to a swamp mill, from where they find the box and the game ends with a clear, read a slap in the face blunt, hint about a sequel, which will never come, most likely.

Haunted is a surprisingly solid point and click adventure game, told in comedic tones and set in the early 20th century, or late 19th century, London. It is one of those titles I had no real expectations of, as I got it as a part of a bundle with no prior knowledge about. So maybe in that sense, when you expect nothing, you can only be pleasantly surprised?

Though, it's not just that, as Haunted is genuinely pretty well-done game. The puzzles are quite enjoyable and give a modest amount of challenge while being easy to understand and not completely run through, at least most of the time. In the latter half, there are a couple of occasions, where some camera difficulties do pop up and make the navigation a bit tasking. Overall, I'd say the last part of the game doesn't feel as refined as the first half of the game does, as the environments and the puzzles feel like they are teetering off a bit in the end as far design goes.

If you are a fan of the genre, Haunted isn't a bad pick. It's not some kind of an unknown masterpiece, but overall it is pretty funny, often pretty well-designed game, that manages to carry its own weight to the end. And when we talk about adventure games as a whole, that isn't something that happens very often to be quite honest.