Spooky Mall proves to be an average reproduction of a popular game with an eerie twist
January might be an unusual month to release a Halloween-themed time management game, but Alawar did just that with Spooky Mall. Young Alice has to repay her student’s loan, so she does not even hesitate to take a job offer which requires her to work at midnight at a very interesting mall. The concept of the game certainly sounds good, but I can already tell you that a lot of players might be in for a disappointment.
Spooky Mall features 100 levels in five different shops inside a huge mall, such as bakery, fish market or butchery. There is only one mode, but each level can be finished with a variety of ratings depending on how much money you earn and whether any impatient customer leaves the store. Unfortunately there are no achievements, so there is definitely a shortage of variety and motivation to keep playing. The appearance of each shop changes after every level, so at least there is a decorative reward.
Spooky Mall is extremely similar to Supermarket Mania 2. The interface, graphics, and game mechanics differ only on a very superficial level, and players of that game will have no problem at all recognizing the similarities. Each rack in any shop has to be filled and refilled, customers have questions that need to be answered, and they want to pay at the end of their shopping tour – well, at least most of them. More complex products, such as sandwiches, require Alice to collect related products from the correct racks and then prepare them at the counter.
The game also features some pretty interesting characters. Most of the customers do not differ in behavior, but in each level, VIP customers shake things up a little. Napoleon diverts other customers from shopping, the superhero will fill all racks when he is happy, and the pirate will reward you with $100 bonus money, just to name just a few of them. If you really have an eye on these VIP customers, some levels definitely get easier.
Unfortunately differences between the five stores are very minor and mostly perfunctory and a huge number of levels is not enough to create an entertaining and challenging game. Upgrades stay exactly the same – larger racks, bigger carts and employees who support Alice. One new bonus customer awaits you at each new store, and the products certainly change, however you’l have already seen practically everything the Spooky Mall has to offer in the first 15-20 levels.
Furthermore, Spooky Mall contains some noticeable bugs. We encountered one or two crashes, some parts are not translated from Russian into English, and clicks are not registered properly on a regular basis. Even worse are customers who suddenly get stuck without a reason, resulting in an automatic downgrading of your performance for that level. Although these bugs do not occur so often that the game gets unplayable, they are still annoying at times.
As an avid time management game fan, each of the rare releases in this genre during the last couple of months resulted in a sudden surge of excited anticipation. But as so many times before, Spooky Mall fails to fulfill that curious expectation. The presentation is top-notch, the game mechanics are well-known and provide a fast-paced gaming experience, and there are a few charming ideas in there. However there are way too many issues – not only the bugs, but particularly the uninspired reproduction of a popular title and repetitive gameplay, that might frustrate even long time fans of the genre.
In the end, Spooky Mall is pretty much a Halloween version of Supermarket Mania, and I am very ambivalent whether to recommend it or not. On the one hand it has some things going for it, and fans of its role model will definitely enjoy it for the most part. On the other hand, its similarity is too striking, its game mechanics can feel very repetitive, and the regular bugs definitely decrease the game’s fun factor. I’ll give it three stars and a reluctant recommendation, but definitely try before you buy.