Luigi is back at it again with his ghostbusting vacuum cleaner. Despite its title, Luigi’s Mansion 3 sees the less popular plumber fighting ghosts and solving puzzles as he ascends a hotel to find and free his trapped brother and friends. He must explore each uniquely-themed area to unlock the elevator button, taking him to the next floor up until he reaches the very top.
Luigi’s Mansion 3, developed by the same studio that created Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, continues the legacy of the series while building upon it. The development team expands on the franchise’s tried-and-tested gameplay while adding new, interesting mechanics and showcasing clever puzzles and boss designs. Each new level is its own adventure, and the variety between each means there isn’t a single dull moment to be had.
The game utilizes the Strobulb and Dark Light mechanics from Dark Moon while introducing new tools like the plunger (which seems like a no-brainer for a plumber), and, my personal favorite, Gooigi. Gooigi and I go way back: he was first introduced in the Luigi’s Mansion remake for 3DS (which I happened to review) as a multiplayer companion. Our green, gooey friend can now be summoned at any time to help solve puzzles and get into hard-to-reach places. Players can only control one at any given time while the other falls unconscious, which brings up some terrifying questions regarding existence in the Mario universe. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to discuss what this might mean for Luigi’s soul, but what it does mean is that Luigi will be left behind and vulnerable to attacks when controlling his gooey counterpart. However, the game has a co-op mode where one player controls Luigi and the other Gooigi, suggesting they do in fact have separate consciousnesses.
Descartes’ philosophy aside, these new abilities create opportunities for some really clever puzzles and boss fight mechanics. What I love the most is that I never felt I was given all these abilities just to have them — I found uses for each all the time. Though certain areas focused more on some abilities than others, I still used every tool in my wheelhouse throughout the entire game, and in some really cool ways. The game would always try to make it clear to me when it required a certain ability. Any time an object had a circle on it, I knew I could use the plunger to pull it around, throw it, or break it. Whenever I saw a sewer grate or otherwise gated off area, I knew Gooigi could squeeze through and explore. Recognizing these cues — regardless of what area I was currently exploring — brought a cohesiveness to the game despite it being broken up into separate floors.
While it’s generally clear when a specific tool is required in order to proceed, it is by no means easy to figure out what to do at any given time. I often found myself unsure of the best course of action to continue a level, or what exactly I should be doing to take down a boss. Luckily, the game drops an occasional hint when it decides you’re taking a while to figure things out. Alternatively, you can call Professor Elvin Gadd (yes that’s his real name and I hate it) for a hint if you’re completely stuck. The lighthearted nature and cartoony style are certainly not an indicator of the difficulty. I made it through the game, but not without some trial and error.
Speaking of trial and error, I did find myself dying several times in quick succession, especially during boss fights. One of my only complaints is the horribly loud beeping sound that plays when you’re low on health. As your HP gets closer to zero, it gets louder and more distracting, even drowning out other sounds. This can make audio cues a little harder to detect, and it certainly doesn’t help when I’m trying to learn a new boss’s attacks and weaknesses. I can still hear the horrible beeping in my head, and it made sussing out boss weaknesses and strategies a little more painful. However, there is an item that you can buy from E. Gadd that will put you right back into the action at full health after you die, which is (quite literally) a lifesaver. That doesn’t make the loud sounds of my own death any less awful, though.
Despite that one gripe, I adore Luigi’s Mansion 3. There is so much variety in the level structure, themes, bosses, and puzzles, that I never knew what to expect next. One moment I’d be fighting a mall cop with Gooigi, and the next I’m in an Ancient Egyptian tomb solving deadly puzzles. Some levels are shorter with a focus on a more robust boss fight, while others had me scrambling through a maze of rooms. Exploring each floor was always fun, and sucking up all the bits and bobs with the vacuum felt so satisfying. Picking up huge amounts of money, throwing around trash cans and suitcases, and slurping up spiders made normal exploration so much more fun. And every once in a while I would find something hiding underneath all those items. Each floor has six gems hidden behind multi-step puzzles or tucked away in unexpected places. Though they didn’t really do anything, finding those gems is an immensely satisfying process. Though each floor would work its way up to a big interesting boss fight, the game made everything in between those fights so much more gratifying and fun.
There are, of course, normal ghosts to fight as well. Over the course of your adventure, you’ll encounter several different types that behave a little differently, and even the regular ghost fights get more interesting over time. Since you have to stun them with your flashlight before you’re able to suck them up, they start putting on glasses, carrying shields, or wielding other protective gear. You’ll have to find new ways to take care of them, so combat never becomes too repetitive. The new ability to slam ghosts on the ground over and over once you’ve started grabbing them with the Poltergust G-00 is the best addition to the combat system. You can slam one ghost into others, creating a chain of ghostbusting — needless to say, it’s incredibly satisfying. The game just does such a good job of creating new ways to enjoy even the most basic gameplay systems.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 finds so many ways to expand upon the franchise’s classic formula to create something even more challenging and exciting, with Luigi’s new abilities paving the way for some amazing level designs, fun puzzles, and robust boss fights. It breaks up its pacing well, and makes even the simplest of combat and exploration satisfying and fun. I couldn’t have asked for a better entry into the series to build upon the original, and I hope to see yet another sequel with equally innovative gameplay.
This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Nintendo.
Luigi's Mansion 3 has some incredibly clever (and difficult) puzzles, featuring interesting new abilities and expanding on the series' classic gameplay. It's everything I wanted and more in a continuation of the franchise.