Paper Cut Manion is a horror rogue-like mystery game. Playing as Toby, a police detective, you need to explore a mansion a floor at a time, with each run providing you with more evidence as you seek to solve the mystery behind it.
Initially, you might think this is ‘just another’ rogue-like. What sets it apart immediately is its art style which will transport you back to Paper Mario, as the world is cut out of bits of cardboard but set in the scene of a worrying universe, it does a fantastic job of creating a chilling child-like atmosphere – a world you may have made as a twisted school project, if only you had the talent.
The game begins in a locked room, as you control your paper person from a top-down perspective. The clue to the room you’re told is in the furniture. Without spoiling it, there’s a code that requires you to look at symbols, and figure out the appropriate combination. Once through the door, spooky hallways await as you trek through and uncover a variety of ‘dungeons’ to crawl through. People to talk to, people trying to kill you and different dimensions to travel through all unravel a story that’s interesting and a little different.
The rogue-like nature will require you to do through different runs to obtain clues and boost your powers until finally, you can beat the game. Frustration is always on the cusp of your adventure, as when you’re finally feeling like you’re getting somewhere, a ghost comes out of nowhere hunting you down until a restart beckons. Most, you can fight – and honestly, the combat system is a bit weak. Circling enemies until they’re dead is the general tactic, but it’s really a means to an end here as the atmosphere, story and environment are the big draws to Paper Cut Mansion.
Thankfully, as you choose dimensions you can elect to try to avoid most combat. Certain dimensions will have more things in there that are trying to kill you, so if you’re not a fan (I wasn’t) then you can keep this fairly minimal.
Runtimes are quite key in roguelikes – you need to feel like you’re getting somewhere, but not feel like you’re wasting time on huge runs only to have to start over. Paper Cut Mansion is for my tastes, slightly too long (at a few hours a time). Yet visually it never gets boring, with the paper world looking so incredible, and the haunting, slow soundtrack bleeding over whilst you’re playing.
Paper Cut Mansion tries to do something a little bit different to the roguelike genre. It doesn’t entirely succeed but sets out the world in a fantastic way which is enjoyable and lays the groundwork for an excellent follow-up down the line.
Reviewed on PC