Haunted Hollow Hands-On Preview

At GDC, we had a chance to meet with 2K Games, but unfortunately, it wasn’t to play the recently announced port of X-Com. Instead, 2K was demoing an upcoming turn-based strategy game that features cartoon monsters taking over a defenseless village.

Haunted Hollow is being developed by Firaxis, the team that made Civilization Revolution and X-Com on consoles, so we expected well-balanced gameplay and lots of depth. Even though it’s a free download, Haunted Hollow seems to be a serious, strategic game with a lot of charm. We were immediately reminded of another excellent iOS game with similar features, Outwitters.

Everyone who downloads Haunted Hollow for free will receive a starter pack with a Victorian-style haunted mansion, and a few basic monsters, including ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and vampires. Additional monsters and haunted house types can be purchased in packs, but like in Outwitters, the paid monsters aren’t more powerful, they’re just different. That way, nobody has an inherent advantage just because they paid for additional characters.

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Haunted Hollow can be played locally via pass and play, online via Game Center, or offline against the AI. The two players have to compete to take over the entire village, located directly between their two haunted castles, so you’ll have to balance scaring citizens with fighting against enemy monsters.

Before you can summon new monsters, you’ll first have to build up your haunted house. Placing a new room next to a similar room will allow you to build higher-level monsters. For example, placing one belfry will let you create a basic vampire, but stack another belfry on top, and you can summon a level two vampire who can turn into a bat and move faster.

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Then, you can spend your action points to move monsters, attack, or scare townsfolk. The “scary” monsters will add houses to your point total, while the “fighty” monsters can mix it up with enemies. Meanwhile, taking over the town will enrage the townsfolk, who will congregate in the church until they burst out as a torch-carrying mob. Then they’ll move slowly towards any monster and destroy them with one hit.

The free content in Haunted Hollow should be enough to last most players a long time, but there’s even more depth to be found in the paid content. A full game can last about half an hour in pass and play mode, and by sending moves online, a game could stretch into more than a week. If you’ve got access to the Canadian App Store, Haunted Hollow is available now in a beta version. For everyone else, check out the final version when it launches worldwide this Spring.

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