Developer: 7 Raven Studios
Genre: Action & Adventure, Puzzle & Trivia
Platform: Xbox One
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 04/04/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Ghost Sweeper is a cute little title from 7 Raven Studios packed with a variety of puzzle-style levels to challenge both your quick-thinking and strategy planning skills. I’m a fan of games with any kind of puzzle element but I hesitated before deciding to give Ghost Sweeper a go because I thought it might get a bit repetitive, how wrong I was!
Each level is made up of a combination of static, moving, and fire-breathing enemies, ice blocks, permanent blocks, and collectible items. Your goal in each level is to find the key to unlock the door to get to the next level. Along the way, you collect various types of treasure and bottles of magic potion to replenish your ghost vacuum or fireball abilities. Your character’s other capabilities include being able to jump and place and remove ice blocks.
Achievements are spread out nicely throughout the game for finishing zones, unlocking secret areas, and completing various other milestones. You track your progress through the game on a map where you can see your whole journey and the levels in your current area.
Ghost Vacuum or Fireball?
You can choose between two characters to play with and switch between them during your play-through. The first character has a metal bucket for a hat and when you press the ‘fire’ button, he vacuums up ghosts that you can then shoot out by pressing the ‘fire’ button again; if you time it right you can kill another ghost/enemy when you do – but be careful, they have to come back out quite quickly and will kill you if you don’t release them.
The second character has a cowboy hat and when you press the ‘fire’ button he shoots out fireballs which can kill a variety of enemies, not just ghosts. Initially I played with the bucket head character, but I switched to the cowboy about halfway through to take advantage of being able to kill a wider range of enemies with the fireball.
You use up magical potion when you use the ‘fire’ button. This means you do have to plan when to use your ghost vacuum/fireballs and when to dispatch your enemies by other means. The fireball doesn’t go through walls but when you release the ghost it can. Use this to your advantage when clearing a passage ahead – as long as you can fire the ghosts back out in time!
Stars, Gems, Coins and Treasure
When you complete a level you receive stars, up to a maximum of four per level. You get one for simply completing the level. Another for collecting all the gems, coins and treasure and another for completing the level within the time limit (and collecting all the treasure). The fourth star is available once you’ve completed the first three – this one is an extra challenge and varies per level. You might have to kill all the enemies, complete the level using only a certain number of blocks or not kill any of the enemies at all, for example.
Once you collect enough stars you can play some of the extra levels. You need different amounts of stars to unlock each of the levels. Once you complete the first ‘secret’ area, you unlock the second.
There is a second purpose to collecting coins, gems and treasure; you can spend these in the shop for power-ups such as extra magical potion or a shield to help you battle your way through levels. I found these power-ups very useful in the later levels of the game when things start to get quite a bit more challenging.
Cute but Don’t be Fooled!
I loved the bright colours and cartoon-style design of the characters, enemies and levels. I found even the most dastardly baddies in Ghost Sweeper to be quite cute and loveable. Visually it is a very appealing game. The artwork in the backgrounds and fixed blocks is detailed but in keeping with the cartoony style of the moving characters so that it adds depth to the scene.
In each level, although your goal is the same, you encounter a different set-up of enemies, different backgrounds and different obstacles to overcome to get to the exit. This means that every level feels fresh and has its own variety of challenge.
I really enjoyed the soundtrack too, since there is a lot of variety between levels and areas. Each of the tunes also has a very fitting spooky edge to remind you, in case you had forgotten, that you are indeed in a land full of ghosts and ghouls.
Despite the cuteness of your enemies, your character, and the overall cartoony appearance, it is by no means a simple game. Ghost Sweeper eases you in with some straightforward levels to get you used to your tools. Pretty soon, however, it starts to throw you some curveballs and by the end, it’s quite a cerebral experience.
There are periods where you can plod along through the levels adapting your strategies but every so often (and with increasing frequency as you progress through the game) you meet a fiendishly difficult level. Be prepared to die lots and spend some time looking at what comes ahead to help you plan how best to use your resources.
Worth the Dough?
Ghost Sweeper delivers quite a lot for an inexpensive game, especially when you consider what you get in terms of the variety and degree of challenge in the levels; in this respect I think it’s worth every penny of the price tag. So, if cute and cartoony is your style, you’re a fan of all things spooky and have a penchant for solving puzzles, Ghost Sweeper might just be your next gaming match.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can buy Ghost Sweeper for the Xbox One in the Microsoft Store.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.