Luigi’s Mansion 3’s release is quickly approaching, and just in time for Halloween. The sequel to the Nintendo series known for its Ghostbusters-like gameplay takes Luigi back to a haunted locale, armed with nothing but a flashlight and a poltergeist-sucking vacuum cleaner. I had some hands on time with this spooky title at PAX West 2019, and after trying out its latest additions in a demo, Luigi’s Mansion 3 may be the next game in a series that proves it gets better with every entry.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 takes you to a spooky hotel. In the demo, I explored a floor of the hotel overgrown with grass, vines, and tons of other greenery. Not only was this haunted by regular ghost enemies but there was a boss-type ghost that resembled a crazy gardener the seemed to be guarding the entire floor I was on. This spirit would randomly show up and use a watering can to summon giant plants, all the while growing a prickly vine that crawled across pretty much everything.
Similar to past entries, Luigi uses a vacuum cleaner, this time called the Poltergust G-00, to suck up items and capture ghosts. He also has a flashlight he can use to stun them before capturing and hitting them.
Luigi can use his vacuum to “clean” interactive objects in the environment, revealing coins, hearts that heal him, and other hidden objects. This ability invites you to explore each area fully, scavenging every corner in hopes of finding something new.
Another move in Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the Suction Shot. This lets you grab different objects in the environment and pull them by moving the analog stick in the opposite direction. In one instance, I used Suction Shot to pull a vine over to me and swing across a hole that kept me from progressing to the next area.
It’s a move that requires a plunger, which is actually pretty funny to see in action and takes a bit of careful positioning to get right. Heavy objects can be used to hit blocked doors or even toilets when you pair Suction Shot with the Slam ability, revealing hidden items in the environment. The latter ability can also be used against ghosts.
All of this helps to modernize the puzzles in Luigi’s Mansion 3, which range from “try to find the hidden objects in the room” to “try to dodge a giant pineapple falling down the staircase.” The pacing of Luigi’s Mansion 3 is certainly enjoyable. Even in the short level available in the demo, the balance between combat, exploration, and puzzles feels great.
At one point, I had to strap a chainsaw to the Poltergust G-00 to cut through the tall and unruly grass planted by the ghost boss I mentioned earlier. It was a fun mechanic that only lasted for a couple of minutes, but made for an exciting addition to the gameplay that complemented its already promising foundation. If the rest of the game uses tiny elements like this to enhance gameplay, even if it’s just for a short amount of time, then it will make for a game that delights all the way through.
Partners in crime
During the Luigi’s Mansion 3 reveal, a new character called Gooigi was shown. As the name implies, it’s a doppelgänger of Luigi made of goo. Some puzzles require you to use this character to pass through vents and gated areas, but the most appealing aspect is that Gooigi can be played by a second player during local co-op.
A second player can tag along as Gooigi and take down ghosts alongside you, but this is more of a support role than one you would call true co-op. Picking up hearts and other items only assist Luigi in his own ghost adventure, and there’s no real penalty for dying when playing as Gooigi.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 also has a multiplayer mode where each player takes control of their own Luigi, but it’s a separate mode not tied to the main story. Instead, it features gameplay based on timed challenges and working together with other players.
All of these new mechanics come together in a stylistic approach to a haunted hotel that, despite its dark atmosphere, offers an abundance of colorful personality. This continues with the Ghosts enemies that come in a variety of shapes and color, each with their own style of combat.
One ghost I encountered had its eyes covered with leaves and would roam around the room randomly slamming its head against the floor in hopes of hitting Luigi. I needed to suck the leaves off its face and blind it with my flashlight in order to capture it. It was an amusing encounter that added to the already quirky atmosphere of Luigi’s Mansion 3.
The setting in Luigi’s Mansion 3 is way more vibrant than the past two entries, and that’s for the best. Exploring all the different rooms with all the carefully added details and clever ghost encounters has a greater impact than it did in previous games.
All of these newly added features thrive in the demo of Luigi’s Mansion 3. It may be the best in the series yet, but I’m interested to see whether the complete game will maintain this level of detail and sense of style throughout the entire experience.
We’ll have to wait until Halloween to find out just what secrets these dark rooms are hiding, and whether or not Luigi’s glorified vacuum cleaner and gelatinous clone are enough to keep you pushing through it all.