Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Switch) Review
Third time’s the charm with Luigi’s Mansion 3, a ghoulish adventure that innovates on the first two games in just about every conceivable way.
To quickly recap for the uninitiated, Luigi’s third spooky outing takes place at the Last Resort, a skyscraper hotel in the middle of nowhere the Mushroom Kingdom regulars consider a definitely safe and normal place to holiday. What could possibly go wrong? King Boo and the scheming hotel owner, Hellen Gravely, that’s what. All except Luigi get trapped in picture frames, leading the green-capped Mario brother to no doubt experience a severe case of deja vu en route to teaming up with Professor E Gadd once more.
After equipping the Poltergust G-00, you’re tasked with restoring the hotel’s elevator by recovering its missing floor buttons. This involves solving many environmental puzzles, defeating ghosts, and sucking up money along the way. Lots and lots of money.
When previewing Luigi’s Mansion 3, I noted that beyond a moderately sluggish opening, its story is an absolute blast to play. In addition to carrying over Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon’s clever Dark Light concept, the new plunger and ground slam abilities add to the series’ renowned ghost-busting shenanigans in satisfyingly tangible ways. The only disappointment from an ability standpoint is a late-game power that’s quickly introduced and rarely used – not that it added much in the first place, nor was it given any chance to.
However, Luigi’s Mansion 3’s surprise star is the gelatinous Gooigi – Luigi’s spectral ally of mystifying origins. Once your gooey companion is recruited early on, Luigi’s Mansion 3 opens up many fun ways to approach the varied puzzles and combat situations. When playing solo, you can swap freely between the human and whatever-the-heck-Gooigi-is versions of Luigi. Not only is this a great way to encourage gameplay variety, but it’s also necessary in order to progress through the Last Resort. Often, you’ll need Gooigi to squelch through grates Luigi can’t fit through or use both characters’ combined might to plunger-slam heavy enemies. Luigi’s Mansion 3 continually iterates in smart ways throughout its 18-hour adventure, requiring a decent amount of experimenting with how the duo’s abilities interact. For example, one room may block Luigi’s path with traps that Gooigi can harmlessly pass through, and then it’s up to you to discover how the Poltergust G-00 will enable both the progress.
Most surprisingly, the option to play with a friend in drop-in, drop-out local co-op is delightful. In fact, I played the overwhelming majority of the story in co-op, with my household competing over who got to play as Gooigi. Here, the first player assumes the role of Luigi, while the second takes full control of Gooigi. Conveniently, if the second player gets stuck at any point, they can easily despawn back into Luigi’s Poltergust G-00’s tank and respawn in seconds. Although Gooigi only has 25 health-points, this isn’t some token assist mode in the vein of pointing a remote at the screen to collect Star Bits for player one. You’ll absolutely need to coordinate with each other regularly in order to succeed. Some ghost battles are made slightly easier with a companion, but there are still plenty of challenging encounters that can’t be expedited with the brute force of two players. In fact, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is one of the best Nintendo co-op experiences I’ve played.
Pleasingly, Luigi’s Mansion 3’s pacing is a vast improvement on Dark Moon’s stuttering mission structure. While you’ll still encounter periodic moments of backtracking, much of this is mitigated by the fact that new abilities or paths will offer different things to discover. In terms of overall tone and sense of discovery, Luigi’s Mansion 3 feels like a blend of its predecessors. While it never reaches the same levels of iconic creepiness as the original Luigi’s Mansion – such as a mecha-Bowser undiscernable from the real thing whose head swivels backwards – this entry weaves more of the interconnected exploration elements the first is known for, as opposed to Dark Moon’s fragmented approach. Each of the Last Resort’s floors is distinctly themed and relatively self-contained, but the freedom to quickly travel between each unlocked floor is preferable to swapping between multiple mansions.
Speaking of the Last Resort’s themes, Luigi’s Mansion 3 definitely feels partially inspired by the wonderfully whimsical Super Mario Odyssey’s eclectic mix of environments. Throughout the Last Resort, Luigi explores many intricately designed floors styled on specific themes. Some floors feature winding labyrinths of rooms, such as the boiler room, while others contain fewer rooms, but larger spaces to marvel at, like the pirate cove. Many of these areas look spectacular, are densely packed with secrets to uncover, and feature an astonishing amount of unique puzzles to solve.
Further to the strong level design, Luigi’s Mansion 3’s soundtrack, while not as immediately catchy as the original’s main theme, capably accompanies each environment. There are plenty of the original’s motifs sprinkled throughout in cool ways, but arguably the jazz elements are the most exquisite audio element presented. Each time you explore the hotel lobby or return an elevator button, the upright bass and trumpets make it feel like you’re playing a Luigi noir detective story, which is totally unexpected and excellent.
Aside from the fantastic story mode, Luigi’s Mansion 3 packs in a couple of dedicated multiplayer modes through ScreamPark and the returning ScareScraper from Dark Moon. Beginning with ScareScraper, up to eight players across online and local play between Switches collaborate to clear floors of ghosts against the clock. It’s a nice addition having never played the 3DS variety, but I would recommend at least four players, lest you feel overwhelmed by the number of ghosts versus the time limit.
Unfortunately, the three ScreamPark mini-games present several issues. One pertains to requiring everyone to know the control suite of the series before playing, so the games lack the approachability and fun simplicity of a Mario Party mini-game. Following this, the high knowledge barrier to entry isn’t worth it for three moderately shallow mini-games. Coin Floating, in particular, is a frustrating endeavour due to how getting knocked out removes all your coins and how heavily it favours the last 10 seconds, ultimately making the time beforehand utterly redundant. Perhaps ScreamPark is an incrementally better experience the closer you get to eight players, but it’s rare I would ever get the chance to test that theory. It’s a bummer, considering the three mini-games are slickly presented, but they won’t be featuring on the party games night rotation anytime soon. Of course, the dedicated multiplayer is very much periphery to the core Luigi’s Mansion 3 experience, so I’m not losing sleep over what ScreamPark could have been.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the best in the series, gooey hands down. Its fully co-op compatible story mode constantly delights and innovates, taking full advantage of Luigi and Gooigi’s vacuuming antics, both old and new. Although the dedicated multiplayer modes ultimately aren’t going to sustain repeat visits, they are a sideshow to the story’s main haunt.
+ The story mode is packed with variety
+ Luigi and Gooigi seamless co-op is brilliant fun
+ The Last Resort’s varied floor themes are cleverly designed and look spectacular
- ScreamPark mini-games feel redundant