Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Glitchy Pixel
Developer: Glitchy Pixel
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Here’s an exhaustive list of everything I don’t like about Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror:

  • the fonts

That is all.

I wouldn’t even characterize it as something I massively dislike it, either — rather, it’s just a mild annoyance, the one sorta bad thing in an otherwise outstanding game. In fact, I think I even get why Glitchy Pixel decided to fancy up their font: it adds to the creepy ambience. The only problem is, using a font that resembles handwriting doesn’t always show up the best.

Poltergeist A Pixelated Horror 1

In any case, as you can see, I don’t think there’s a whole lot wrong with Poltergeist. It’s a unique game that is not only unlike anything else I’ve ever played before, it’s also a whole lot of fun (which, let’s be honest, isn’t always the case when it comes to quirky little indie games).

The gist of the game is that, playing as a ghost, you want to be left alone in peace. To that end, you need to frighten inhabitants of your mansion until they run out the front door, screaming.

As you can see, it’s not the most complex game, nor does it have some super-detailed plot. But it doesn’t need to be complex or complicated; all it needs to do is give you a good array of tools to scare off the humans, and it does just that. Moreover, it manages to make them incredibly intuitive, even without including much in the way of explanation or tutorial. Poltergeist is a game that expects you’ll be able to figure it out on your own — and, luckily, it’s simple enough that you should be able to do just that.

To some extent, of course, the game has a little in common with the Deception series. Like those games, you’re playing as a character that would usually be the usual bad guy. However, there are a couple of major differences. First and foremost, where those games were/are all about action and gore, each level in Poltergeist is a puzzle to be solved. Each level gives you only a finite number of tools to use, and while the frustration level ramps up pretty quickly (I honestly got stuck on the fourth level for more retries than I care to admit), the final solutions always seem entirely fair, even obvious, once you’ve seen them.

Poltergeist A Pixelated Horror 2

Secondly, as its full title implies, Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror eschews more modern-looking graphics and 3D action in favour of a top-down, isometric view with little sprite characters. It’s a retro aesthetic, but even though that’s something that’s been done to death in recent years, in the hands of Glitchy Pixel it just seems charming and lovely.

Of course, they probably don’t want words like “charming” or “lovely” thrown around when describing a game that is, ultimately, supposed to be horror-ish, albeit in the absolute loosest sense of that term. But I don’t care: I’ve fallen for Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror hard, and I’m not afraid to say that it’s charmed the pants off me. Give it a chance, and I have no doubt it will do the same for you.

Grade: A