For introverts, prolonged social interaction can feel like we’re slowly being drained of our energy. There’s nothing more satisfying than finally being all alone again to recharge our mental batteries. That sensation is the premise of BoOooo, an Android action game by ProcessGames about a shy ghost who simply wants to rest in peace.
Our protagonist, aptly named Boo, finds his quiet night at home threatened when the mansion he haunts is converted to a hotel. The objective is to scare away all of the guests and reclaim his solitude. Boo can sneak up on people and make spooky noises, haunt various objects to make them come alive, or even summon a full-on poltergeist. By doing these things enough times, you eventually wear down the “fright” bar of the people wandering through the rooms. Get it to zero, and they’ll run screaming from the building, never to return.
It’s harder than it sounds. The catch is that scaring people, or simply being in a room with the lights on, costs energy. Ditto for blowing out a lit candle. Boo can recuperate stamina in a dark room, but there’s nothing stopping people from bursting in and turning on the light again. What’s more, their behavior is hard to predict. While you are confined to dark rooms, there’s nothing stopping hotel guests or maids from going wherever they like. It was particularly crushing to work up the energy for a good scare, only to have the target leave the room just as the suit of armor comes to life. Just the kind of awkward thing a shy ghost would do.
The number of rooms and guests gradually increases with each level, as the insufferable guests follow Boo wherever he tries to hide. Eventually they go as far as bringing a priest to try and exorcise him, which is a clever mechanic for increasing the stakes and tension of a fairly straightforward plot.
The artwork is pretty adorable. Boo is about as nonthreatening as a ghost can get, which reinforces the difficulty of his objective. The rooms are littered with nice details, such as distinct furniture or objects to haunt, and each level has its own spooky music.
Of course, the game isn’t without a few hang-ups. For one, the tutorial glitched on me, freezing at one point, and then skipping straight into game play after that. At least it was pretty intuitive once I started. For another thing, Boo’s movement is controlled with a joystick button, and while it was relatively easy to use, the sensitivity could use some tweaking. After just four levels, my index finger is kind of sore.
This brings me to my main complaint: there are only four levels. I was able to beat the game in less than 24 hours. But, a complaint like that is a sort of compliment in disguise. I like the game enough that I wish there was more. Given that this is ProcessGames’ first title, and they’re an indie company, I’m willing to cut them some slack, especially because the game was so much fun. It costs just over $1 after all; that’s about a quarter per thoughtfully designed level. And although I’ve beaten it, I can still replay the levels for a faster time (and earn more trophies).
This was a charming first game, and I’m excited to see what ProcessGames comes up with next.
Although it’s very short, BoOooo has a lot of heart and is fun to play.