The original Luigi's Mansion was a GameCube launch title, and it successfully translated survival-horror style gameplay to a kid-friendly game. It was followed up by the 3DS sequel Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon over a decade later, but luckily fans didn't have to wait nearly as long to get the third installment in the series. Luigi's Mansion 3 has come to the Nintendo Switch, once again tasking Luigi with sucking up ghosts using a specially-made vacuum while exploring a haunted location. This time around, Luigi has to brave the horrors of a massive hotel that is full of evil spirits and other dangers.
Luigi's Mansion 3 isn't a horror game, but it certainly plays like one. Like its predecessors, Luigi's Mansion 3 takes clear inspiration from survival-horror classics like the Resident Evil franchise, which is most apparent with its puzzles and exploration elements. There's even a direct nod to Resident Evil 2 early on in the game, as Luigi has to collect keys labeled by card suits. Luigi's Mansion 3 also has some references to horror movies, with easter eggs from It, The Shining, The Ring, Poltergeist, and more. So while the game isn't scary, it has plenty for traditional horror fans to sink their teeth into. There are even some playfully creepy things players encounter as well, like a set of chairs suddenly stacked to the ceiling when Luigi leaves and returns to a particular room.
Luigi's Mansion 3 embraces classic horror tropes in a charming and oftentimes funny way. The game's story, wherein Luigi has to hunt ghosts in a haunted hotel to save his friends, is pretty straightforward, but the characters are far more animated in cut-scenes than they usually are in Super Mario series games. Luigi himself has more voice lines than one might expect, and he is far more expressive. Luigi's reaction to the ghosts and the slapstick humor, often involving his Polterpup companion, help make each scene amusing. There's also a sense of continuity between this game and its predecessors, making the story more engaging for longtime fans.
For this latest adventure, Luigi doesn't have to go it alone, as the story can be played through by two people in local co-op. However, Nintendo games that promise co-op play sometimes drop the ball, treating the second player as a second class citizen. One of the most notable examples of this in recent memory is the Pokemon Let's Go games, where the second player was clearly added as an afterthought. Luckily, that's not the case with Luigi's Mansion 3, which delivers one of the better, fully-featured local co-op experiences we've played in years.
In Luigi's Mansion 3, the second player takes on the role of Gooigi, who, as his name implies, is a goo version of Luigi. Gooigi is essential to solving many of the puzzles in the game, and there are even a number of areas that only he can access. Gooigi gets his own battles as well, and sometimes the person playing Luigi has to wait for Gooigi to do something in another room before they can proceed themselves. Gooigi also has his own unique weaknesses, like not being able to touch water, but otherwise he has all the same abilities as Luigi and then some. Gooigi can use the Poltergust to its full potential, not to mention the Dark Light Bulb and everything else. Those playing solo can switch between Luigi and Gooigi at will, but Luigi's Mansion 3 is a far more entertaining experience in co-op.
Whether with a friend or solo, Luigi's Mansion 3 players have to explore the haunted hotel, vacuuming up ghosts, cash, objects, and more using the Poltergust. The aiming controls are a little wonky at times and the optional motion control integration is weak, but otherwise it's a lot of fun wrangling ghosts, smashing them into things, and generally destroying all the rooms in the hotel in search of collectibles and the like. The environments in Luigi's Mansion 3 are much more interactive than they were in previous games, which makes exploring every nook and cranny fun and rewarding.
As players explore the hotel in Luigi's Mansion 3, they will gradually have access to more floors by defeating really fun and creative bosses and collecting elevator buttons. While the floors are all clearly defined, the levels still don't feel quite as segmented as they did in the 3DS game Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, which is a plus. But unfortunately, the game leans too heavily into backtracking in its later stages.
The first five to eight hours of Luigi's Mansion 3 are fantastic, but then the game starts coming up with contrived reasons to make players backtrack, artificially lengthening the experience. The time to beat Luigi's Mansion 3 is a little over 10 hours, but without the backtracking forced on players in the later parts of it, the playtime would easily shave off two hours. If there was compelling content to fill out those extra two hours or so it would be one thing, but what's in Luigi's Mansion 3 to extend its length is just filler.
For example, there is a ghost cat enemy who steals elevator buttons on a couple of occasions. Players have to chase this ghost cat through areas they've already explored, going through multiple floors and having to fight the cat each time they catch up to it. The cat fights consist of just standing still, waiting for the cat to attack, and then shining the flashlight in its face. This is repetitive, not very challenging, and not very fun. It's more annoying than anything else, an inconvenience that grinds Luigi's Mansion 3's pace down to a halt and hurts the game's momentum.
The original Luigi's Mansion was harshly criticized back in the day for its short length, so perhaps that's why the developers felt the need to add filler to artificially lengthen this one. Finding all the Boos and gems would probably have been enough, though, if the reward for doing so was all that worthwhile. But perhaps a better way to add more replay value to Luigi's Mansion 3 would have been to expand on the game modes outside of the main story, which are both pretty lackluster and unlikely to hold one's attention for any significant length of time.
Outside of the story, Luigi's Mansion 3 players can check out the ScreamPark and ScareScraper modes. ScreamPark consists of three mini-games that support up to eight players. They're good for some laughs, especially the coin collecting one in the pool, but they are shallow and lack any lasting value. ScareScraper is a bit more engaging as it tasks players with exploring a haunted tower with others either locally or online, with various goals like saving Toads or collecting a certain number of ghosts. Even that gets old pretty quick, though.
Luigi's Mansion 3's ScreamPark and ScareScraper modes could have used more content, but the main story still provides plenty of things for players to do. The filler at the end of it hurts the pacing, but players will have a blast with the game until they reach that point. Luigi's Mansion 3 is still an easy recommendation for Nintendo Switch owners or anyone looking for a fun local co-op game.
Luigi's Mansion 3 is out now, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.