There were a lot of things I really liked about Paper Cut Mansion from the moment I started playing it, with the papercraft world, unique puzzling mechanics, and quirky characters certainly helping it catch my interest. And hey, I’m a sucker for something spooky, so that certainly ticked the right boxes for me from the get-go.
However, the more I played, the more it started to feel repetitive and like it didn’t take full advantage of its more unique ideas. It isn’t a bad game by any means, but it doesn’t feel like it has that lasting oomph to make it worth uncovering each of its twenty-seven (that isn’t a typo) endings.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Paper Cut Mansion puts players in the role of Toby, a police detective who has been sent to investigate a mysterious mansion. What does he find there? Some truly bizarre creatures and characters, a variety of dimensions to explore, and plenty of evidence that’ll reveal the truth behind the creepy occurrences around him.
Whilst the story never feels overly engrossing, it does bring with it plenty of spooky twists as well as some unique NPCs to meet that really feel like they fit in this odd little world. I was always intrigued to see who I’d encounter next, whilst the interactions they shared with me added a fair bit of personality to the derelict mansion. It’s a shame they weren’t voiced, but they fleshed out the world and made the investigation a bit more interesting.
Gameplay-wise, players can expect to explore the procedurally-generated rooms of the mansion, all whilst progressing through floors and gathering the evidence required to complete their investigation. This means helping out NPCs, exploring every nook and cranny of every room, and solving plenty of puzzles, with an array of little enigmas to be found across the game world that’ll hinder your progress. Whilst there’s nothing too complex to find and the solution could at times rely on trial and error or a bit of dumb luck, they were typically fun to solve. The ultimate goal of each floor is to find a special talking door, which will give you a mission to complete in order to move up to the next floor. Simple enough, right?
“It’s not that Paper Cut Mansion feels bad to play because some of its ideas are genuinely really cool; it just doesn’t always deliver on them all, with the repetitive nature often making each run through the game feel incredibly similar.”
What helps make Paper Cut Mansion feel unique is the fact that its world is spread across three different dimensions, with each bringing with it its own challenges to complete and rewards to earn that’ll help players progress through the game. The NeoCortex dimension is all about puzzle-solving, with plenty of objects to examine throughout that’ll bring with them varying items. It’s the safest place to be, so it’s a good place to go when you need a moment’s respite (even if it does have a few little jump scares and ghosts that’ll creep you out). Then you have the Limbic System, which is freezing cold and sees your health dwindling away unless you’re close to a source of heat. With evidence and items required for quests found here though, you’ll have to make the best of it (and stay as warm as possible). Finally, there’s the Reptilian Complex, which is where the game’s combat takes place. You’ll find all sorts of nasty baddies down here to take out, though a mixture of weaponry and gear ensure you’re well equipped for the job.
You’ll have to switch between each dimension regularly if you want to progress through the game, not only to find the specific items that each floor holds, but also to explore further through the mansion. Each dimension is still made up of the same layout after all, so you’ll often have to switch between them just to open new pathways. More importantly, the mission that the talking door gives you to progress might be found across any one of the dimensions (as well as those that NPCs give you), so you can expect to spend plenty of time within each one in order to simple progress.
Of course, there are also plenty of opportunities to die – I wouldn’t call Paper Cut Mansion a hard game, but being ill-prepared for combat or spending too much time in the Limbic System’s cold can prove fatal. Given the game’s roguelite setup, death is permanent, sending players to the first floor of the mansion to start again. Thankfully, your progress through NPC quests and the items you gathered carry over between runs, so it’s a little bit easier to progress through the next time around.
Check out some screenshots down below:
It’s clear then that Paper Cut Mansion has a lot going on, with the puzzle-solving and creepy sense of exploration ensuring there’s plenty to get stuck into. However, it doesn’t take long before some cracks start to show, especially during extended runs that see you spending longer with the game. I started to see some puzzles repeat on a regular basis, the maze-like levels often had a lack of distinction to make them easier to navigate, whilst the combat could feel a little dull with the enemy AI proving easy to exploit. I even came across a few technical issues with the game crashing out on me completely on two separate occasions, whilst the camera could feel a little cumbersome in some rooms too. Some of these problems wouldn’t be so bad if the game had shorter runs, but the drawn-out nature of the game meant you could easily spend two hours or so exploring the mansion only to have your progress zapped away with a mis-timed death. I prefer my roguelites to be a bit snappier, but Paper Cut Mansion is anything but that.
It’s not that Paper Cut Mansion feels bad to play because some of its ideas are genuinely really cool; it just doesn’t always deliver on them all, with the repetitive nature often making each run through the game feel incredibly similar. It does have plenty of strengths, especially in its presentation (and I haven’t even mentioned the brilliant music-driven cutscenes), but they could feel outweighed by some of the game’s duller and more drawn-out moments.
Paper Cut Mansion Review
Paper Cut Mansion is an interesting game that has some really cool ideas, but the repetitive gameplay mechanics do feel tiresome after a while. It’s not that the game is bad at all, but rather that you’ll start to see it recycle ideas a little too often – especially since runs through the mansion can take a fair while to complete. It’s one of those games that starts really brightly, but loses its allure when you start to see the same things happening again and again.
Still, there’s no denying it brings something unique to the roguelite genre and I loved its aesthetic and kooky spooky vibes. I just needed it to offer a bit more pizzazz and variety within its gameplay in order to really sink its teeth into me.
Developer: Space Lizard Studio
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One