Since my switch to iOS gaming, Chillingo has been a first rate publisher of addicting apps. When Fright Heights swung my way, I assumed another dependable and great experience was in the offing. But one never truly knows with free to play titles, and a well executed adventure may be ruined by freemium excess. But Halloween is just around the corner, and maybe this title had a few tricks and treats up its sleeve.
Fright Heights starts off with a dynamic that always appeals to my senses. There is no real hero in this puzzle game, as your mission is to summon up an army of ghosts to scare hotel guests into leaving their respective rooms. Each floor is cleared when an inhabitant has a score of 3 in their respective box, and that number is collected by carefully positioning your ghosts around your intended victim. To finish each level, all of the floors must be cleared of humans.
Talismans, which are the icons located on the right side of your device, turn ghosts into extra powerful spirits and can also turn tenants into ghosts before you place them into their respective rooms. These power ups can be bought through boo bucks you earn playing the game or via in-app purchases.
Although the actual game play is simple, the puzzles can be frustratingly difficult. Since the pieces that you place in the hotel are entirely randomized, a great deal of planning is involved. Even if you've positioned ghosts and guests in a near perfect formation, the level can still be lost if the right piece doesn't appear within your last few moves. To have all your best intentions and effort hinge on a randomized object is simply cruel, and this creative decision will either infuriate or enervate gamers.
My problem with Fright Heights doesn't lie in its difficulty. It took me over an hour to complete level two and even though failing countless times I still was more than willing to head back into the fray. It's a fun title the first several times you pick it up, but the game does have a quick diminishing point. A bit more unpredictability and variety would have been welcome, and after countless plays I eventually grew tired of playing with dead people.
Another slight annoyance is the constant reminder that you may have run out of talisman juice, which is Fright Heights' way of asking if you're willing to fork over money to buy boo-bucks. Certain pop-ups offering in game premium deals may also interrupt one's play, and if you're willing to pay two bucks for a "scream-o-meter" premium, then maybe these advertisements won't get your goat. For more frugal participants, these freemium reminders are really not the way to go.
There is also nothing appealing or eye catching about the visuals, as the images have a very been there done that kind of feel. Being stuck in gaming molasses could be fun if there were a few pretty illustrations or renderings to uncover, but don't expect to much beauty, or originality, in this one horse hotel.
The best free to play titles enable gamers a wide enough path to explore and the ability to bask in a seemingly endless experience. Eventually all that app love will translate to a few premium purchases down the road. Fright Heights feels like a money grab from the get go, thanks to its game of chance mechanic and the frequent reminders of upgrade options. I would have shelled out a few coins if this app really gave chills up and down my spine. But currently I feel nothing but indifference, and that's really nothing to be scared about.