Luigi never seems to learn his lesson. It’s been 18 years since he was first lured to a haunted house and tortured by its spooky inhabitants. Now, having been duped again, he’s trapped in an even bleaker building – the Hotel of Last Resort – as he races to rescue a familiar cast of Mushroom Kingdom characters.
Although it treads very familiar ground to its predecessors, there’s a lot to love in the third instalment of the adventure series that lets Mario’s timid twin take charge. You still guide the character through uniquely themed sections of the building, relying on his flashlight and multi-functional Poltergust vacuum to rid the place of ghosts.
Luigi keeps track of his progress through the 15 main hotel floors with the help of a digital assistant, amusingly called a Virtual Boo, as well as the quirky Professor E Gadd, who’s on hand to offer tips and tutorials.
The game was never likely to stray too far from its roots as a hunt-and-chase adventure, but Nintendo has attempted to breathe new life into the format, and it’s these changes that truly elevate the game. The most innovative addition is Gooigi, a glowing gummy bear-like Luigi clone made of, well, goo. Previously appearing in the 3DS version of Luigi’s Mansion, his malleable nature allows Gooigi to squeeze through grates and pipes, helping to solve puzzles and reach previously inaccessible areas.
The presence of Gooigi enhances the experience a great deal, especially when playing in co-op mode, where you partner up with a friend and explore different parts of a room at the same time. While many puzzles are straightforward, some don’t have obvious solutions, so being able to call on a second pair of eyes for clue-spotting is a welcome addition.
The game’s painstakingly detailed levels, featuring themes ranging from ancient Egyptian to medieval to modern-day Hollywood, also have much more depth than its predecessors. Each level, including the one set in a sewer, has its own kind of serene beauty that invites you to explore every corner.
Curiosity is readily rewarded with stacks of money and treasure. Much of it just lying around, but some is hidden away and requires you to experiment with your tools in suspicious spaces. Creative players will enjoy discovering ways to access the most hard-to-reach treasure. Your stash can later be traded for a small selection of items in a shop accessed via the Virtual Boo.
As is traditional, an end-of-level boss awaits you after you have cleared each room. These battles with an eccentric array of ghouls and goblins can be slightly maddening due to the trial-and-error approach needed discover their hidden weak spot. If you’re really struggling, though, a few clues will occasionally appear on screen to help you out.
The random equipment and characters you find scattered about the hotel can prove useful too, once you figure out the best way to use them; it’s deeply satisfying – and hilarious – to use a rescued Toad as a weapon, for example. One floor also requires the near-continuous use of a giant rubber duck to navigate the obstacle-strewn surroundings, which was by far one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had playing any Switch game.
Multiplayer fans have two options to choose from (separate from the co-op mode). ScareScraper lets you play in a team of up to eight, online or locally, to complete missions such as collecting Toads or cash, or engage in further ghost busting activities. And ScreamPark offers up three Mario Party-style mini-games that work best with four or more players. It offers short bursts of frenzied fun but those looking for a longer, more immersive experience are likely to find ScareScraper the more entertaining of the two modes.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a captivating and charming game, but it’s not without its flaws. If you follow the main storyline without breaking off to collect treasure, it can start to feel repetitive – a more substantial range of side quests less reliant on the Polturgust would have been welcome. And while it’s satisfying to be able to collect so much cash, the items you receive in exchange are underwhelming. In the later stages of the game, we deserve a sizeable new gadget or tool.
However, like many of Nintendo’s best-loved franchises, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is imaginative, humorous and highly inventive. It may be nearly two decades old but the series continues to evolve in pleasing ways.