Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is relentless. Ever moment of every stage feels fine-tuned to destroy you. Every enemy placement, every stage setpiece, and every surprising trap is designed to kill you, and quickly. This will likely surprise no one who’s interested in the game, as it is every bit as brutal as its predecessors. A few mechanics and tools have been added to make your life easier (or harder) if you desire it, making for an experience where players of various skill levels can savor the game’s devious, devilish design.
Drawing inspiration from past entries in the series, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection presents you with an array of stages that will seem instantly familiar to series fans. From the Graveyard from Ghosts N’ Goblins to the Execution Grounds from Ghouls N’ Ghosts, these will all bring back a little sense of nostalgia. Whether that’s good or bad depends on how much you enjoyed dying hundreds of times in these stages years ago.
The visuals in these locales are a welcome treat. Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection has a storybook art style that breathes some loving details into these places, adding many striking sights no matter where you look. The same can be said for the game’s enemies and bosses. The Shielder boss is especially impressive, as is Astaroth when he makes his grim appearance. It’s hard to find the time to appreciate their looks as they maul you, but it’s impressive to see how their original designs from years ago have informed some fantastic-looking bosses today. But while their looks are impressive, there’s something about the movement in the game that feels stiff and strange. They all look like paper dolls, with their limbs shifting with no movement from the rest of their body. It is a bit off-putting and unpleasant, making for a game that is somehow both lovely and ugly to look at.
Not that you’ll have much time to take in the sights throughout Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. In keeping with the challenge of the original games, this one is just as cruel. Enemies spawn absurdly close, on top of the regular onslaught of foes you’re always dealing with. Most of these unpleasant creatures have special movement styles and attacks to dodge, and the developers created many setpiece moments and enemy groups that work well together. Many games feel like they’re set up to challenge the player, but this one feels like the developers asked themselves how they could kill them the most often.
There are a few difficulty modes in the game to cater to peoples’ varying skill levels. These can allow you to take a few more hits and reduce the size of enemy groups. They also offer the Magic Metronome, which lets you slow the game down (on the lower difficulties). The lowest difficulty, Page, gives you respawns on the spot, allowing you to brute force your way through most of the game if you want to see what’s in store for you. It does make you restart some challenging platforming segments, though, so don’t expect a pure cakewalk. You also can’t access a good chunk of the end game, but if you’re playing on this difficulty mode, you might not want to.
You also get reduced access to the game’s magic, which Arthur can unlock by collecting Umbral Bees hidden throughout each stage. You can spend them on buying spells that let you fling lightning, turn everyone to stone, or give yourself a clone to attack with you. You can use them as often as you like (after a short cooldown period), as you just have to hold the attack button to charge them. That said, finding a few seconds to hold down the attack button isn’t easy, which I honestly found made the spells a bit useless. Some of the passive abilities you can unlock, like doing more damage for a single shot at low health or being able to carry multiple weapons, are a better use of your bees. In a rare showing of kindness, any bee you collect stays collected permanently, even if you die or quit the stage. This makes redoing stages to find them a lot easier to swallow and I did not expect that.
The game also features a co-op mode where the second player can assist with a handful of different ghosts. These three phantoms can summon platforms, shield Arthur, and attack enemies, making them massively useful. They die temporarily after taking a certain amount of damage, but otherwise they make your life a whole lot easier. They can be the biggest source of help if you’re having lots of trouble getting through the game.
For those who want the challenge, the higher difficulty modes will definitely cut it. With fewer checkpoints, tougher bosses, and bigger enemy groups, you will earn every step. Thankfully, you still have infinite lives, but that doesn’t make navigating stages any easier. You still need to consider enemy placements while preparing for surprise spawns, mixing memorization and pure skill in ways that will keep you cursing at the screen.
You can even make Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection even harder if you like. (Why?!) The Magic Metronome, which used to make life easier, can be used to speed things up if you seek death. The game also unlocks an array of shadow stages when you “beat” it, which are remixed versions of the old stages with harder enemies and tasks. The basic versions of the stages were more than hard enough for me, but if you want to push yourself to your absolute limit, you have the tools to do so.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a crushingly-difficult game, so if you’re looking to be brutalized, it is excellent at it. It features a handful of tools to help less-masochistic players through as well, making for a great package whether you just want to see the sights or emerge victorious from a game that feels like spite given form.
Ghosts n’ Goblins Resurrection is available now on the Nintendo Switch.