Hauntii isn’t only one of the most beautiful games that I’ve played this year, but it also offers an entertaining collectathon adventure that hooked me in from start to end – even IF some of the boss fights could be a little tedious.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Hauntii puts players in the role of a ghost (who happens to be called Hauntii) that finds itself blasted down to the land of Eternity with a flash of light, awakening to know little about who they are, what they are, and how they got there. They do find comfort in an angelic figure of a girl though, who leads them to a tower that allows them to ascend into a brightly lit sky. However, Hauntii finds themselves being pulled back down to Eternity by a series of chains, causing them to separate from the girl and be left alone once more. Undeterred, Hauntii looks to re-unite with the girl, all whilst uncovering the memories of who they once were as a means to release the chains that bind them.

Whilst somewhat cryptic in its storytelling, it’s easy to find yourself engrossed in Hauntii’s tale. There are plenty of unusual yet intriguing characters to meet across your journey, whilst the lands you venture across have their own little stories to tell that add to their mysticism – whether that’s when striding across a desert full of majestic whales or a theme park packed with rollercoasters. What touched me the most when playing was the way that the game presents Hauntii’s memories, with each portrayed through cutscenes that showcase core moments of their previous life. A few caught me off-guard, and whilst they are simple in design, they add a sense of relatability to the game that stuck with me long after playing.

When it comes to the gameplay, players will spend their time moving across a variety of wonderfully designed locales, with each interconnected and bringing with them an abundance of secrets to uncover. Progression through the game is tied to unlocking special stars that are hidden within the environment, with each star then used to form constellations that unlock a memory. Some areas are inaccessible until you’ve found enough of these stars, so you’ll want to seek out as many as possible as you explore the world.

“Hauntii utilises a simplistic art style that works with minimal colour, but it’s so beautifully executed that I constantly found myself in awe of the world.”

Some of these stars are easy enough to find – they might be hidden in a tree, they might be hidden behind a tower, or they might just need to be purchased from one of the in-game shops (you’ll find different types of currencies that can be spent when playing on a variety of objects… mostly hats). However, others require a more creative approach from the player, whether that’s by speeding through a series of markers in the environment as quickly as possible, helping a ghost find their missing doggy, putting on a firework show, or destroying strange enemies in twin-stick shooting action (more on that in a bit). It’ll take a fair bit of detective work, exploration, and experimentation to uncover each star, but they’re so satisfying to seek out that I found myself completely obsessed with finding them all. The game handily marks how many are available in an area too, making it easier to track how many are left to find.

My only complaint? I wish that there were some hints given to the player to guide them in the right direction of stars that might be missing. Whilst some objects do show off some sparkles to give you a clue that a star is nearby, some of the areas you explore are so vast in design that it’s easy to miss them. And believe me, there’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to find that ONE star that you’re looking for…

As mentioned, there’s also twin-stick shooting action offered in Hauntii, with players encountering a few different enemy types on their journey. I wouldn’t necessarily say that the game is tough, but some encounters will see the screen fill with foes and bullets, so you’ll certainly be kept on your toes as you move from area to area. There can be a bit of an uneven difficulty curve early on too, especially if you don’t manage your upgrades carefully. Players can upgrade their health, dashes, and energy essence (essentially your ammunition) after completing a set number of constellations, and believe me, you’ll DEFINITELY want to prioritise energy essence to start with. I lost track of the amount of times that I’d run out of ammo and be left waiting for it to recharge, which didn’t only leave me susceptible to enemy attacks but could also be a little frustrating.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Despite this, I really liked the twin-stick shooting of the game. The simplicity of its design complemented the explorative elements of the game when seeking out stars, whilst there is enough enemy variety to ensure you’ll face plenty of different challenges along the way (I hate those flying snake things though). Players also have a really cool skill where they can shoot at some objects or enemies to possess them, allowing them to use their abilities to their advantage. Whilst this is handy when seeking out stars, it’s especially useful in combat when you can unleash the likes of bombs, fireworks, or lasers on your enemies.

It should be worth noting that whilst the twin-stick shooting action is fun, the boss fights were a lot more tedious. Don’t get me wrong, they were certainly creative and showcased some cool ideas, but the execution fell way short of the mark – especially with the vortex boss encounter in the desert area, which was one of the most frustrating boss fights I’ve played in some time (despite also being really epic in design). I’ll happily admit that it might be more of a skill issue on my end, but they could have done with a bit of fine-tuning just to make them more fun.

I can’t end this review without mentioning the visuals, which are absolutely gorgeous throughout. Hauntii utilises a simplistic art style that works with minimal colour, but it’s so beautifully executed that I constantly found myself in awe of the world. The way that it brings different patterns and visual effects into each locale is nothing short of mesmerising, with each wonderful new sight I saw making me adore the world more and more. The screenshots don’t do it justice… you have to see everything in motion to really appreciate it.

Hauntii Review

Hauntii offers a wonderful collectathon escapade that’ll keep players hooked in as they seek out the many stars hidden across the world to reunite with their newfound friend. The emotional storytelling is touching, the world design is creative and beautiful, it’s a ton of fun hunting down all of the stars scattered across the land, whilst the twin-stick shooting adds a fun little twist to exploration.

It does have some imperfections with its tedious boss fights and uneven difficulty balancing, but Hauntii still stands out as an enjoyable adventure that I certainly won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

Developer: Moonloop Games
Publisher: Firestoke
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch
Website: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2060790/Hauntii/