I have Luigi’s Mansion 3 in my hands, and it has me hooked. Right away, the game calmed my fears about the franchise’s direction after Dark Moon (which was still a solid title in its own right) by striking an excellent balance between the first two games and pushing the series forward with creative new mechanics and enhanced multiplayer. By abandoning Dark Moon’s sharply segmented mission structure and bringing back characterized portrait ghosts, the game is more reminiscent of the first entry’s tight, cohesive adventure. But thanks to over a dozen unique hotel floors, the second title’s lengthy, variable experience is also preserved.
The looming, gloomy hotel setting ends up perfect for treating players to the best of both worlds. Luigi’s Mansion 3‘s own gameplay innovations are nothing to sneeze at either. I’m having some of the most fun I have ever had with the series. Still, I am not yet convinced that Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the best game in the series, but so far, it seems a huge step up from the already great Dark Moon. Franchise fans and newcomers alike should be very excited for Luigi’s next ghoulish adventure.
One of the most substantial improvements in Luigi’s Mansion 3 over Dark Moon is its drastic increase in personality, accomplished by the return of portrait ghosts and focusing the adventure entirely within one building. Dark Moon was very fun and had lots of content, but the detached mission design and lack of unique ghosts tarnished the game’s memorability. Series fans who have been pining for something more like the original Luigi’s Mansion should be happy here –– halfway through the game, I have prevailed through scores of great, memorable boss fights that added so much zest to their distinct hotel floors.
Still, thus far, the atmosphere is not quite up there with the first title. I hate to espouse the idea of quantity over quality when the whole series is so great, but while Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a much longer title with more developed gameplay and loads more content, it suffers comparatively since its sound design, portrait ghosts, and its “mansion” simply do not quite match the original’s equivalents. Everything beyond the atmosphere, though, has been extremely entertaining.
Creative ghost designs and boss fights challenge Luigi to use all sorts of new and old abilities at his disposal. Fresh gameplay elements such as ghost slamming evolve the traditional ghost-hunting and puzzle-solving. For example, suction-powered plungers can clear debris, yank down structurally weak walls, and even expose certain shielded ghosts. Slamming a ghost into the floor three or four times is a satisfying way to clear a room with violently stylish gusto. And Gooigi is, well, Gooigi. He functions as an entirely separate being who allows you to occupy two places at once — very handy for certain puzzles and ghosts.
Going in, I was worried that some of these new powers, especially ghost slamming, would make Luigi overpowered to a point where the game would not be fun. Fortunately, Luigi’s Mansion 3 rises to the occasion and provides an adventure suitably challenging for the tools you wield. Since you can now beat ghosts with ease, the game does not hesitate to completely fill the screen with tons of spooks at once. Slamming may be overkill when dealing with single specters, but you’ll rarely be facing one at a time.
The additional damage that comes with smacking a ghost into one of his spooky compatriots suddenly becomes a necessity when you are jumped by over six at a time. Plus, ghost health pools in general have become much tougher to drain. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is not a very challenging game, but like the rest of the series, if you let your guard down, you’ll find yourself pestered by a very annoying low health alert in no time. Instead of a Rambo-style spree of putting ghosts (back) in the grave with ease, Luigi’s Mansion 3‘s various options and abilities simply serve to level the playing field.
On top of a healthy-length single-player adventure, (By my estimate, it will take me around 12 hours to complete at my current pace.) Luigi’s Mansion 3 also has surprisingly fun multiplayer options. The campaign can be played co-op with one player taking over as Gooigi; thanks to crowds of ghosts and the neverending gauntlet of two-player puzzles, the haunted hotel lends itself well to co-op, with the exception of some compromising camera angles. On top of co-op, there is the incredibly fun ScareScraper, where a team of Luigis clear one ghost-filled floor after the next, and a couple of minigames in the ScreamPark.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is shaping up exactly how I had hoped. Dark Moon was hardly a misstep in the first place, but the third title is still a triumphant return to form for the series, poised to show millions why the franchise has such a dedicated following. Luigi’s Mansion 3 does not quite satisfy the original title’s niche as a quick, uniquely atmospheric game great for high score runs, but it holds its own as a longer, more fleshed out experience with a heck of a multiplayer suite to boot. We have on our hands a lengthy spectral adventure with creative gameplay, great puzzles, and wonderfully evolved ghostbusting that is enjoyable on your own or with your friends. Keep Luigi’s Mansion 3 on your radar, and check back here closer to release for our full review.