I AIN’T AFRAID OF NO GHOST… MY REVIEW OF LUIGI’S MANSION 3
October 31, 2019
Single and Multi Player
Immersive Sims are a favorite genre of mine. The aspect of environmental exploration tops the list of my favorite game qualities. I enjoy the freedom to explore and come up with creative ways of interacting with the environment. This quality has become rarer in recent memory. So many games now a days are terrified of the user failing, or missing something, or getting frustrated and turning the game off, that they offer linear scripted experiences that are almost impossible to fail or deviate from. Why offer exploration if there is a chance someone will miss it? Even the “Open world” genre has found a way to mire itself in this mentality. Endless worlds are laid out before us with very little of interest or value to discover. Exploration and creativity offer the same currency in a room or environment that looks exactly the same as those on the other side of the world. Just the exploration itself could be rewarding enough as long as we’re shown something interesting, but few games seem to want to give us even that.
The Luigi’s Mansion games have always given me a sense of environmental exploration and interactivity rarely seen outside of games containing the words Deus Ex, -Shock, or Half Life. They go back to a time when an environment was meant to be inviting, when the details created an immersion that was half of the reward. A good game of this type should make me want to exist in its space. Luigi’s Mansion 3 has come out of the 6 years since it’s predecessor with its core values still very much in tact. An impressive feat for a game whose audience is on the more casual end of the spectrum. Rather than coming down to make sure it doesn’t do anything to compromise the lowest common denominator, it offers a ladder up to make the experience of immersion and interactivity approachable.
Luigi’s Manion 3 offers a generous gameplay length of about 15-20 hours. My personal playtime clocked in at over 19 hours after achieving all the collectables. The game achieves this with a level structure far superiors to LM2’s. Rather than loading into missions that use many of the same rooms, each of the 17 floors is its own hand crafted experienced to be completed from start to finish. There is “Some” backtracking in the story but not enough for me to be frustrated. If you’re trying to rush the game for a deadline it may be frustrating, but I was happy to go back to some of my favorite floors after my original 50-minute completion left me wanting more. The removal of a time score at the end of a floor was also welcome as I felt that it was counter-intuitive to a game whose strength was fastidious exploration of every nook and cranny.
Combat is as it ever was, a few new tools give a bit of excitement but the game was not built around combat. It was fine before, and it continues to be fine in LM3. The boss battles are where the depth and intensity lie but they’re over fairly quick, as exhilarating as they are. I can say there was only one “Dud” in the suite of boss battles, I’m always against games that give you a gimmicky really frustrating and hard to control mechanic for one section only. As amusing a tale as it is, controlling an inflatable beach toy during an intense boss fight was an exercise in frustration. While the game as a whole could be labelled as “Easy” some of the boss fights ratchet the game into “Medium” territory. Though most veteran gamers will unlikely see a game over sign, the very casual crowd that’s enjoying stress free exploration might hit a wall at some bosses.
Where the meat of the game lies is in the 17 wonderfully diverse floors. I felt like each one was a fantastic display of creativity that made me gape in awe at its design. There are two floors that could be considered tutorial floors and don’t offer the full meat of the other 15 floors. Another 4 floors offer very little apart from a hallway or two and a large room. These floors were disappointing as the themes for some of them were incredibly creative and I would have loved to have seen them fleshed out to the level of the other floors. The rest of the floors offer a level or grandeur, detail and creativity that is applaudable. They mix in fantastical and mundane in a way that keeps the pace refreshing. Floors that might not seem that interesting thematically still rate highly in my mind with the expert craftmanship they’re created with.
It’s the details of each floor that holds the magic of the game. Nearly every object you can see can be interacted with in some way. Most of the time the rewards are just money, which apart from the end game rank are near useless. But it’s not the reward currency that matters, it’s the reward of discovering and solving a puzzle. I can’t remember what was in the submarine I found, but I remember the feeling of laughing and saying outload “That’s so cool!’.
Attention to detail is rewarded in this game. An incongruous pig’s anus is a something that stands out and demands exploration. Whenever you see something and think “Ha, isn’t that odd…..” that should be a precursor to putting your detective hat on. Anything that stands out, does so for a reason and it’s your responsibility to discover that reason. That’s why I kept playing LM3 hour after hour, I wanted to see what the next environment was and I wanted to see the clever ways the developers created that environment. It goes beyond what most games offer, it’s not just a piece of art to look at and think “Isn’t that nice”; it creates a real world that I feel like I exist in and have true agency in. It all ties in together with a level of grounded context that I appreciate so much in many of Nintendo’s offering. Every floor I enter I know I’m about to enter a world that has imaginative puzzles that I can deduce simply by using real world understanding. All of it is done with a color, charm and artistic flourish that is distinctly Nintendo.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is probably my second favorite game of the year (behind Ace Combat 7). It fills me with a sense of discovery few games can match, all the while allowing me the agency to explore my own deduction and creativity skills. In 2019 these types of games should be applauded. I’m already starting the game over again to relive my favorite floors and I’m enjoying watching Let’s Plays of the game to see how others interact with the environments and if anything was uncovered that I missed. The saddest thing about the game is that it can only be experienced blind once, but that’s the nature of things like this. The wonders of 300 hours of exploring Skyrim can never be recreated but they were special while they lasted, the same goes with the Luigi’s Mansion games. They offer an experience so special and memorable that it won’t ever be truly recreated. The only thing we can do is support these games to allow the creation of more of them, that way we will have more of these experiences to enjoy in our lives.