There comes a time each year when packing in the ghosts and goblins actually seems seasonal. Some of the braver folks venture to the theater or their local movie collection and subject themselves to the most horrific, heart-pounding media they can. Luckily, Chillingo and REDspace are aiming to put you in the roll of scare commander just in time for Halloween. How is Fright Heights? Is it scary good or should it be locked in the monster closet forever? Let’s find out.
In a world where people are daft beyond belief (or easily subject to playground dares), everyone wants to stay in the hotels you’re in charge of. Beyond simply being creepy, many of these towers of terror are are in shambles, with rooms completely missing from some floors and more. Your job is to instruct your cadre of ghastly haunts and furious frighteners where to embed themselves and then, when there are enough guests on their floor, they need to frighten them all away!
At its heart, Fright Heights is a fairly straightforward puzzle game. You’ll have to work your way up fifty different towers which are basically just vertical grids. Along the way, the layout of each tower will change. Various levels of decay will have affected the buildings in different ways, giving you unique terrain to have to work through. You’ll only be dealing with five floors at a time and as you clear them from the bottom up.
Each floor has a required number of fright points that must be achieved to clear the floor. As you play, you’ll be pulling from a queue that contains both hotel guests and various fiends. Each scarer has a grid around them that shows how many fright points they contribute and where. For instance, a phantasmal chef may contribute one fright point to the room directly above and below him and two fright points to the rooms on either side of him. When guests are then placed in those rooms, they’re affected by the fright points. When you get enough required for the bottom floor, all of those guests will be scared away, the bottom floor will drop off the screen, and the next floor will come into view.
There is a deeper level of strategy involved in the game on top of simply setting and clearing the hotels. Nothing moves until the bottom visible floor is cleared. If you work at it, though, you can go ahead and scare the crap out of the other 4 floors. Then, when you complete the bottom floor, it will generate a combo, granting you bonus points as well as rapidly filling a “talisman bar” that can be redeemed for special ghouls that help out in tight situations.
There is a lot of gameplay available here. With 50 levels, you’ll be busy for a while if you get hooked on the game. On top of that, each level abides by the 3-star system, so perfectionists can go back for better scores if they want.
While the game is solid overall, there are one or two things about it that can really get under your skin. First, the talismans, while helpful in tight situations, can quickly run out. To replace them, you have to spend “Boo-Bucks.” It’s not overtly egregious, but a single talisman use will cost you 50,000 boo-bucks, which can take you 10+ levels to earn. Apart from the standard freemium complaints, though, is the Facebook integration. If you aren’t interested in giving your Facebook permission for this game, it will beat you to death with it. When you fire the game up and after every level they will remind you to plug up with Facebook. They even tell you it’s easy to turn off later. It’s impossible to turn off the notifications if they’re not tied together, though. It’s infuriating and completely unnecessary for the game.
Visuals & Audio
The visual style for Fright Heights is cute and cartoony. Even with what could be considered more macabre source material, REDspace have done a great job keeping the game kid friendly and inviting. It feels like it would be right at home alongside gradeschool Halloween coloring books.
The music in the game feels reminiscent of something out of Disney’s Hocus Pocus or Honey I Shrunk the Kids. The orchestral track is upbeat but maintains that air of the otherworldly. It’s fun and thematic. The sound effects do a fair job as well – screams and other such effects help keep the Halloween feel alive without being too shrill or offputting.
Overall, Fright Heights is a solid puzzle game with plenty to keep you busy. The cute visual style and solid audio do a good job of drawing you into the lighthearted horror world. An egregious, annoying press for social media will continually keep you frustrated if you don’t want to submit to their whims. With a free price tag, though, you could keep your kids entertained without worry. Just make sure they don’t want to buy any Boo-Bucks.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.