How does the idea of a haunted online first-person shooter sound? You know, one where all of the servers are seemingly vacant with the exception a haunting presence that always seems to be lurking behind you… it’s a neat idea, right? Well, it’s a concept that Connection Haunted, the first-person psychological horror title from one-man developer MrCiastku, introduces to players that are brave enough to play.
However, whilst the idea itself is a great one, its execution here is more frustrating than terrifying.
If I hadn’t read up on the game beforehand, I’d have no real idea what was going on in Connection Haunted before I started playing. There isn’t some big introduction that explains how the game works or anything, but rather a server page that drops you right into the game. It’s simple, but effective – it also helps create the whole ‘meta-game’ vibe that Connection Haunted is going for, so it’s something I could appreciate.
When you’re actually in the game, you’ll quickly find that no one else is playing. Instead, you’ll be in some creepy underground tunnels and left tasked with one objective: to capture the flag. Whilst it might seem a little boring at first (especially with no one else to play with), things soon take a sinister turn when spooky things start happening and other players start to interact with you via the in-game chat.
It’s certainly a unique approach to take and it does feel authentic in making you feel like you’re playing some kind of creepy pasta-style cursed game, so Connection Haunted does deserve some praise for the way that it presents itself. It has multiple endings on offer based upon the actions you take in-game too, so there’s incentive there to re-play it if you want to really find out what the hell is going on. It’s not a very long experience with it coming in at around forty minutes to beat (and even less on subsequent runs), so the added replayability is actually a big plus…
Or it would be if Connection Haunted was actually fun to play. See, the tasks you’re given in the game aren’t all that enjoyable, with the player simply spending most of their time exploring a series of uncreative maps that don’t really offer a whole lot to do. Sure, you might come across the occasional monster (that you’ll have to kill with a shot from your gun if you don’t want to die instantly), hidden doll to destroy, or flag to collect (you’re still playing an online shooter after all), but none of these objectives actually feel all that fun to complete – they just offer different ways to unlock endings in the game.
At least the environment captures the vibe of a 90s shooter perfectly, with the low poly objects and heavily textured locales certainly befitting of the era. Whilst the areas you explore are very generic in design, they do have atmosphere and certainly tie in well with the horror themes of the game. However, they’re all very dark so it can be really difficult to see at times, with limited glow sticks used to brighten up your path. Again, that ties in with the horror theme, but it can make exploration feel a little hindered at times – especially when playing on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode where objects can be a little bit more difficult to make out. I had this problem with Alien Isolation and it’s occurred again here… maybe dark horror games are better played on a TV?
In Connection Haunted’s defence, it is a low-priced title so I shouldn’t have gone in with my expectations TOO high and it does offer some neat ideas. It was all put together by one person too, so it deserves a little bit of a credit there… it’s just a shame that playing the game isn’t all that fun.
Connection Haunted has a very unique and neat psychological-horror concept, but the boring gameplay mechanics just leave the game feeling a bit tedious and dull to play. It’s not broken and the narrative is intriguing, but you can probably expect to find your interest in this horror title waning pretty quickly.
Publisher: No Gravity Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC