You can have your Smash Bros and your Splatoons, your Wii U ports and your raft of tepidly reviewed JRPGs. I turn on my Nintendo systems for one of two things: weird games (a really weird one is coming out on Friday) and well-designed, gameplay-first adventures I can get lost in on my own. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is that last thing.
I’m about three hours into the new game from Nintendo and the ever-excellent Luigi’s Mansion veterans at Next Level Games. I’m having a great time. Sure, this game can be played in co-op, with a second player controlling Gooigi, but I’m hoarding the fun for myself. I’ve been wanting a game like this. With respect to a lot of the bigger Nintendo games of late, they’ve catered more to the multiplayer crowd or to tastes that run a little different than mine. I grew up on Nintendo’s solo adventures and craved the deeper, more exploratory ones like Metroid and Zelda. Luigi’s Mansion games keep good company with those.
For this third game of the series, I’m once again in control of Luigi and using a vacuum to suck up ghosts, though I’m exploring a hotel this time, unlocking and poking through floor after floor. Old moves like stunning ghosts with flashlights and revealing hidden objects with a dark light return. Combat gets a twist with the ability to slam ghosts as you are trying to vacuum them. Just a few hours in, new moves involving shooting plungers and spawning (then teaming up with) Gooigi are already being used well in puzzles and combat.
Check out the video atop the post for more about how the game works. (Voice-over by Kotaku producer Paul Tamayo.)
The flow of the game has been pleasant so far. I steer Luigi through the floor of the hotel, trying to vacuum couch cushions, curtains and everything else in sight. (For the record, all this vacuuming feels better than anything else I’ve done in games this year.) I then press X to interact with anything I can find in a room—sinks and pool tables and trash bins, etc—hoping to find hidden ghosts. I zap ghosts with the flashlight, vacuum them down and then poke around some more.
An example of how this plays out: I’ll be in a bathroom and notice that a mirror is reflecting an otherwise invisible sewer grate on the floor, use my flashlight’s darklight beam to reveal it, then activate Gooigi and use him to slide down through the grate and explore the drainage system below the bathroom. This is the constant experience of the game. You’re constantly discovering hidden nooks and crannies and the treasures and ghosts tucked into them. You don’t need to find everything, but if you like to explore and investigate, the game will give you ample opportunity. If you find everything there is to do in one of the hotel’s many rooms, the lights will brighten. You’ve basically gotten the all-clear that you’ve thoroughly and completely scoured the room. It’s very satisfying.
Could it all go bad? Sure. This is one of those previews a game company allows two weeks before review. The game’s done, but I’m not far enough in it to know if it all falls apart. I don’t think it will. I don’t want it to. But we’ll be able to tell you for sure how well it holds up in about two weeks.