I am a horror fan. I love intense horror video games and films. I love walking through haunted jouses, and I managed one as a talent director for years. I’m always trying to get people into the horror genre, but often they are too scared and decline my generous offers. Goosebumps Dead of Night offers the right amount of spooky-dooky to draw new people into the genre (and veteran spooks).
Rewinding a bit here, Goosebumps is a collection of horror stories for kids that are written by R.L. Stine. Really, they are “horror-lite” stories. The first book was released in 1992, Welcome to Dead House. I read so many of these books as a kid. Stine often played with tropes of the horror genre using horror classics such as mummies, vampires, or the famous talking ventriloquist doll, Slappy. At the end of each chapter, something spooky would happen, but 90% of the time it would turn to be one of the kids pranking them by banging on the door with a broomstick. I loved getting these books as a kid to add to my little library. Good luck to the real collector, because there are currently 252 books in production.
Goosebumps Dead of Night follows suit of these books with inspirations from the latest film, Goosebumps 2: The Haunted Halloween. The gameplay borrows from other games in the horror genre, but it has been lightened up for kids. The zombie that paces the house is slow and goofy looking, the werewolf looks like he is down to cuddle, and there is an entire section dedicated to smashing walking lawn gnomes. I will say that Murder the Clown is the thing made of nightmares and if I were a child playing this game, I would not sleep for weeks.
What’s incredibly interesting in this game is how it borrows mechanics from modern horror gameplay. The entire first section of the game has the player walking around Stine’s House, which is full of monsters, very similar to Resident Evil 7 and P.T. There’s also a hiding mechanic that is on par with games like Amnesia. Whenever a monster is close to the player, he starts to shake in fear in a similar manner to Among the Sleep.
Every monster in Stine’s house functions differently in relation to the player. When the zombie is nearby, the player has to hide with plenty of time to spare. If the werewolf shows up, the player has to sprint to a hiding spot so they don’t get eaten. More interesting and far more terrifying, is Murder the Clown. If the player stays in the dark for too long, Murder the Clown will show up with his laugh of nightmares, and there is a limited amount of time to hide – and it has to be a small space. I told you, Murder the Clown is the thing made of nightmares and he is not playing around. Leave the light switches ON.
The main antagonist of the game is Slappy, who has somehow risen to power as the Goosesbumps mascot. It’s interesting because Night of the Living Dummy didn’t take place until the 7th book in the series, and it was the 10th episode of the famous ‘90s TV show. I guess Slappy just stuck with kids. Regardless, he has unleashed all of the monsters from Stine’s books while trapping the famous author into one, like we are back on the island of Myst.
Fun fact: Jack Black plays R.L. Stine in the films and reprises his role in Goosebumps Dead of Night. I was not expecting that!
The second part of the game takes the player into a giant garden house which is apparently attached to Stine’s home. It has been completely run over by plant monsters and insects. If I had waited long enough, I’m sure that Poison Ivy would have been sauntered onto the stage.
This entire section reminded me of the old Resident Evil games, in which the player has to carefully navigate different rooms while mixing together chemical components to stop a growing infection within themselves. This stage is unlike the house where a series of different monsters were running amuck. Instead the theme is strictly from Stay Out of the Basement… even though they are not in the basement. Similar to Resident Evil is a child who has mutated into a plant monster, taken over the lab, and is helping the player escape while a scientist monologues in the background.
The final section of the game goes completely off the rails. Apparently behind Stine’s giant secret garden is the mansion and factory for Nikola Tesla. It’s also where the game stops being a horror game. After a very long and tedious task of sneaking around some toys with flashlights while the play has to redirect lasers, they are given what looks like the gun from Portal and are told to go charge items.
This leads into a Doom styled first person shooter maze full of evil mutant gummy bears, complete with the soundtrack dropping some sick beats in the background. I didn’t really understand how things got to that point in the game. Aside from it being based on The Haunted Halloween, this whole section and all of it’s game play really felt out of the left field.
After climbing a bunch of shaky rafters during an earthquake while Nikola Tesla straight up screams in the background, the player finally has his final stand off with Slappy who summons all of his Halloween friends to walk slowly as player tries to shoot orbs out of the sky. Eventually it ends with a one hit battle where Slappy throws a ball of light at the player, like Gannondorf in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, who bounces it back and renders the obnoxious ventriloquist doll useless, and he falls back into his book.
And that’s it. That’s the entirety of Goosebumps Dead of Night.
It’s actually very short. If you are looking for something quick and easy to complete, then Goosebumps Dead of Night is great game for you to play. Also keep in mind that it’s designed for children, so it is low difficulty. But if you want to introduce someone to the modern horror genre of video games, this is a good way to go! Plus it’s got some nice ‘90s nostalgia for any of us over the age of 30.