SPOOKWARE , developed by BEESWAX GAMES and published by DreadXP has been described by many as WarioWare meets horror-lite and for the most part, I could attest to this description had I actually ever played WarioWare. Much like many other indie titles such as DUSK and Gloomwood I had never played the original concepts that inspired them. In DUSK’s case that was Blood and Quake and in Gloomwood’s it was Thief. So, for the most part, SPOOKWARE was my first experience with WarioWare style titles, and I’m delighted to say it didn’t disappoint.
Described as a microgame-a-thon meets action RPG, SPOOKWARE follows the story of three “skelebros” known as Lefti, Midi, and Righti as they travel the world experiencing varying settings and challenges which are presented to the player as microgames. With SPOOKWARE being an episodic title, the first game is split up into three chapters, each of which has its own setting and tropes associated with its inspiration. As you journey with the skelebros you’ll attend high school and attempt to recruit a full graduation band, try to solve a murder mystery on a cruise and even open up your own restaurant in Bonehattan.
Each of the varying episodes provides some brilliant dialogue and playful humour not just amongst the main cast but also with the plethora of side characters you meet along the way. The developers, namely Adam Pype and Tibau VDB have created an amazing world that you can tell has had a lot of time and thought put into it and the distinct personalities of the three skelebros only help to add to the overall narrative and general fun I had with the game.
SPOOKWARE’s gameplay is very simple and that’s certainly not a bad thing. General movement around the world is controlled with the WASD keys and every minigame uses the arrow keys and/or the mouse. It certainly makes a lot of sense as to why the development team are aiming to port this title to mobile at some point in the future as the simplistic controls paired with the fun gameplay and the captivating story would make for one of the most polished games available on the mobile market.
SPOOKWARE has done a fantastic job at blending both the style of microgames and RPGs together. Neither inspiration feels like they dominate over the other or overstay their welcome as on many occasions when I found myself ready to ditch the walking and talking of SPOOKWARE for a quick fast-paced microgame experience I found myself being presented with one almost instantly.
Each chapter of SPOOKWARE’s first episode also does an amazing job at keeping the microgame formula fresh with each chapter’s microgames being unique to them. I honestly don’t have a particular favourite either as each microgame has the perfect amount of excitement and challenge that ensured I was engaged and pumped to keep going as I progressed through each chapter, particularly at boss stages.
One small issue I had when playing however would have to be in the final chapter. When playing the microgames for one of the stages the screen you’re watching shakes, in my opinion, far too excessively and was almost nauseating to try and focus on.
Graphics & Visuals
The combination of 2D characters on a 3D plane is something for me that can either enhance a game or completely backfire on it and I’m delighted in SPOOKWARE’s case to say it was truly something to admire. When speaking to the developers about the game’s art style I was absolutely amazed at the fact they had used so many stock photos to create SPOOKWARE’s world. I was even more surprised at the way in which they were able to use and manipulate the stock images to create such a beautiful world that had me on so many occasions just stopping to admire the sheer polish and beauty the title had to offer.
With the first episode’s chapters being set in varying locations you get a great range of visual identities from the school setting of chapter one to the cruise setting of chapter two and finally the restaurant setting of chapter three. The development team have done a fantastic job at creating such variety in locations but having them all remain grounded and making them feel like part of the same world.
Audio & Music
The music of SPOOKWARE was something that was being applauded long before its release with bite-size elements of the game’s soundtrack being featured heavily in promotional material online. Viktor Kraus, who has worked with Adam on previous projects before such as No Players Online has created such a fitting and groovy soundtrack that elevates the game even further. I would find myself on multiple occasions just sitting listening to the soundtrack play out, particularly on the chapter select screen. The way the score is incorporated does so much to add to the relaxed atmosphere of the RPG style elements of SPOOKWARE whilst also providing the heart-pumping adrenaline needed for the increased pace of microgames come the boss stages.
Sound design is also something that has not been neglected when it comes to SPOOKWARE as again it creates an amazing atmosphere that makes the world of SPOOKWARE feel lived in.
SPOOKWARE is a title I went into with already high expectations and somehow, they were still exceeded. The beauty and charm of this project is nothing short of awe-inspiring and the entire team at BEESWAX GAMES and DreadXP should be extremely proud of the project they’ve created. If SPOOKWARE is any indication of what to expect from future larger titles being published by DreadXP then I think we’re all in for a treat.
SPOOKWARE is currently available on Steam for a starting price of €10.79 but is currently on sale until September 2nd, 2021 for €8.09.
We were provided with a game code for SPOOKWARE for review purposes, but this does not affect the authenticity of the praise or criticism the game received.
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Reviewed on: PC
Developer: BEESWAX GAMES