Spooky’s House of Jump Scares

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Spooky's House of Jump Scares title screen

ConsolePC
DeveloperLag Studios
PublisherLag Studios
GenreSurvival horror
Release Year2015
Free DownloadClick here to download from Steam.
Purchase Karamari Hospital DLCClick here to buy from Steam.
Purchase SoundtrackClick here to buy from Steam.

Yes, I know the developer changed it to Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion. But this one cheap hack of a developer called Spooky House Studio can go suck a dick for trying to copyright a generic phrase. What’s next? Should I go create a Brown Cow Studio and threaten to sue someone for creating a game called Brown Cow?

I’m still going to call it Spooky’s House of Jump Scares. It sounds better.

When it first came out, Spooky’s House of Jump Scares quickly grew in popularity. Certainly not at the level of Five Nights at Freddy’s (how most unfortunate), but it still managed to catch on with famous Youtubers like Pewdiepie, Markiplier, the Game Grumps, and Cinemassacre. Though it’s a rather simple game, Spooky’s House of Jump Scares has a fairly dedicated fanbase.

Why?

Spooky's House of Jump Scares Spooky with bowie knife
Oh, she is so kawaii desu! <<<<<<3333###3#33#33halpmeithinkimturningweaboo3333

Well, yeah. That’s not the only reason. It’s because the game can get legitimately scary and even interesting, even when you take the jump scares out of the formula. For a free horror game, that is not a bad deal.

 

Why Am I Even Here?

The story is that you’re some random history enthusiast who had heard of tales of a haunted mansion, so you decided to check it out. Immediately, you were greeted by the little ghost girl known as Spooky.

Spooky's House of Jump Scares
Aw! I just want to pinch her itty-bitty ghosty cheeks… <3333

She said your goal is to explore 1,000 rooms in the haunted mansion. And that’s basically it. A walking simulator. That’s all you do for the rest of the game. Sounds boring, right?

Well, to be fair, this game has some pretty neat quirks to it. So I wouldn’t dismiss it for its simplicity.

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The entire game is through a first-person perspective, similar to Amnesia: The Dark Descent and many other free indie horror games. While you initially have no means to defend yourself, you will acquire an axe later on that allows you to clear obstacles and fend off enemies.

On the upper left corner, you have a health meter and a stamina meter. If you take any damage, the health meter will regenerate slowly over time. The stamina meter is for running and using your weapon. It depletes very quickly, but also regenerates just as quickly.

The graphics are strangely cartoonish, which seems to clash with the horror theme. Sort of like what happens when you attempt to turn Minecraft into a horror game. However, I feel that it does work to this game’s advantage. The look and feel of the house seems to reflect Spooky’s personality. Not only in its simplicity, but even in its grimness. Many of the rooms you enter have low lighting. If you decide to stop and smell the flowers every now and then, you will even find some rather fucked up paintings.

And as stated in the title, you get a lot of jump scares like these!

Spooky's House of Jump Scares specimen 1 pumpkin
BOINK!

These Specimen 1 cardboard cutouts are harmless and are only around to hopefully make you shit your pants after making a sudden loud noise. Ohhh, but that’s not all. You know what’s even cuter?

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These monsters!

…Well… fffffuck.

Actually, these monsters are the most fascinating part of the game. We’re not just playing through any ol’ horror game for cheap thrills. Spooky’s House of Jump Scares is basically a primordial soup of homages to horror video games and other media. Even the transition to opening doors into new areas is a reference to Resident Evil. You have one Specimen based on monsters from the Silent Hill franchise. Another Specimen based on Resident Evil. Another based on the Kaernk from Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Even some references to non-horror games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Earthbound. Most of the Specimens have their own theme songs, methods of attack, and even unique death screens.

Spooky's House of Jump Scares specimen 6 death screen
I’m seeing no evil… I’m seeing no evil…

The key to beating this game is to know when to use the running ability or the axe, as well as coming up with strategies on how to avoid the monsters. While most are fairly easy to avoid—as all they do is briskly move towards you—, some have special abilities that will hinder you. Quite a few Specimens can phase through walls. Specimen 5 can make the walls look like rivers of blood to throw off your vision. Specimen 10 will distort your vision and enter a secondary form if you’re too far or too close to it. For a large chunk of his domain, Specimen 12 can only be avoided by entering specific hiding spots and will kill you in one blow if he gets too close to you.

Though you can use similar strategies for most of these monsters, there’s enough variety here to make this game better than a typical free horror game. It actually makes the act of going through 1,000 repetitive rooms a lot more tolerable. There are two different endings depending on how much you used the axe for your playthrough. There are even damn mini-games!

Spooky's House of Jump Scares Mall of the Spook

Definitely a free game that went above and beyond.

Despite the horror overtones, the game is strangely optimistic in its presentation. Though it could be Spooky herself playing tricks on you, the house seems to encourage you to keep moving forward despite all the trials and tribulations you’re up against.

Spooky's House of Jump Scares hang in there cat poster

Hell, you even got some supportive, intellectual conversations from this pink cat.

Spooky's House of Jump Scares the cat
TICK! TOCK! TICK! TOCK!

The sound design is also pretty damn good. Though you have some fairly typical ambiance for a horror game—with plenty of background noises to catch you off guard—the actual theme songs for the Specimens are memorable and catchy. My particular favorites are “Your Consenting Mind” and “Getting There.”

And now, we’re moving on to the Karamari Hospital DLC. Unlike the main game, this DLC actually costs some moolah.

 

Karamari Hospital DLC

Spooky's House of Jump Scares Karamari Hospital

Karamari Hospital is a little different from the main game, as it changes up the rules a bit and tries for something original.

The premise is more or less an alternative ending, from what I understand. Instead of entering room 1,000, you stop dead at 995 in order to take the elevator. But suddenly, the elevator malfunctions and drops into the deepest possible bowels of the house. And this takes you to the aforementioned Karamari Hospital.

For me to say that so casually, I’ve already accepted the insanity presented by this game.

Your only objective in Karamari Hospital… is to escape Karamari Hospital. Yeah, that’s basically it. Instead of trying to explore as many rooms in the house as possible, Karamari Hospital puts a larger emphasis on solving puzzles. You may also get a little backstory on Spooky herself. This DLC is kind of like the area where you first encounter Specimen 12, where you have to go through a house in order to progress. While Karamari Hospital lasts longer than that particular section, it’s hard to say if it is really a $5 experience. It’s really short. But seeing as how we got a much longer game for free, I can’t complain. Got to give the developer some profit for the extra hard work.

And also, this DLC is scarier than the original game. So, at least it has that going for it.

And kudos to the new monster designs.

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Hell, let’s not forget this priceless gem.

Spooky's House of Jump Scares Karamari Hospital Monster 6 Bekka
Get it? That’s Rebecca Black!

And that about sums up Karamari Hospital.  Everything else, I would just find out by giving it a play.

Honestly, I find it difficult to find a right way to criticize free games. Mainly because it’s unfair to uphold them to the same standards as mainstream video games and even indie developers that put a price tag on their games. But despite its minimalist approach, I came to like Spooky’s House of Jump Scares more than I expected. It’s one of those horror games with some atmosphere that you can quickly jump into and you can invest a few hours of your time into.

Take that as you will, but I feel like this one is worth a shot.

Spooky's House of Jumpscares

Free
Spooky's House of Jumpscares
7.125

GAMEPLAY

7/10

    STORY

    6/10

      GRAPHICS

      7/10

        SOUNDTRACK

        9/10

          Pros

          • Despite the game's obvious jump scare gimmick, it actually does have quite a bit of atmosphere in its simplicity and its surreal environments.
          • The game has an interesting mix of horror, dark humor, and mystery to make its own unique flavor.
          • The monsters are generally interesting and memorable, seeing as how they're basically spoofs of other monsters from other horror games.
          • The game has a pretty well done soundtrack and helps make each monster distinctive from one another.
          • The Karamari Hospital DLC is worth the money if you want a scarier experience and some new insight into Spooky's background.

          Cons

          • The game has minimal gameplay as you're simply moving forward to cover 1,000 rooms. While there is a combat mechanic, it's very basic.
          • Most of the monsters are very easy to avoid and don't pose a threat as their only tactic is slowly chasing you. However, some like Specimen 5, Specimen 6, Specimen 10, and Specimen 12 will throw new twists at you.
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