Bones of Halloween starts with the basic survival premise: you’re fighting for your life against enemies. An infinite number of skeletons want you dead, and you need to stave them off as long as possible. You must defeat skeletons to earn money, which can be used to buy guns that boost your chances of survival. After defeating enough skeletons, you can draw some fortune cards. These can help or hinder your chances at survival.
Gameplay is the only draw for this game, as there is nothing else. New gameplay modes and fortune cards keep the game interesting, but it quickly becomes repetitive. If you are looking for something to stave off boredom for a few hours, Bones of Halloween might do the job. But don’t expect anything grand or amazing, because it’s just repetitive gameplay.
Story – Shooting Skeletons Who Want You Dead
The premise of Bones of Halloween is that you are fighting off skeletons in a dark forest. There’s no reason for it, no in-game narration, or an explanation. You are in a dark forest for some reason, skeletons want you gone, and you don’t want that to happen. You are trying to survive but there isn’t a way out. The only thing you can do is continue to fight skeletons until you are inevitably overwhelmed.
There isn’t any motivation or narrative that is set up. This is just a simple FPS shooter where you try to survive because it’s a challenge for yourself. Given that this is in the horror genre, there could have been some attempt at a narrative or story. Instead, you have no context for why you are in this situation, or why the skeletons are trying to kill you. You just know that you have a gun, there are other guns around, and there’s no way out. It’s racking up skeleton kills until you die, and you continually repeat this until you get bored.
Thankfully, Bones of Halloween makes no pretenses that it is luring players with anything but gameplay. It never focuses on the story at all, letting its FPS gameplay do all of the talking.
Gameplay – Survive as Long as Possible
Bones of Halloween is a FPS survival game where you fight hordes of hostile skeletons until your health reaches zero. You have a single gun available to you which is sufficient to fight off the skeletons the entire time. Every skeleton will drop money when defeated, which can be used to purchase new guns scattered around the map. Your goal is to get the highest score possible by killing many skeletons and not dying.
These guns are more powerful than your starting weapon, but they have limited ammunition. Fortunately, there are ammo drops scattered around the map as well. You can head to these drops to refill all of your ammo for money. You can always switch your newly acquired weapons around if necessary, to help deal with different situations. This gives you the flexibility to adapt to an increasing onslaught of enemies, as well as try different weapons out.
To extend the game time, Bones of Halloween has two features: Fortune Cards and new game modes.
Fortune Cards – Unpredictable Impacts
Fortune Cards are earned as you defeat a certain number of skeletons. You will be able to choose from one of four cards, and you don’t know what effects they will have. Each Fortune Card can give you a decent boost or hinder your performance. There isn’t a pattern to the cards that you draw; what you get is completely random.
These cards can make gameplay interesting, as you introduce luck as a survival factor. Some runs will be better than others, often through no fault of your own. You can get a good run of Fortune Cards and stay alive longer than usual. It’s also possible to get a bad run of cards and fail early on. Improving your skills can mitigate some of the negative effects, though it will take time.
With each run being different every time, you will start to think about the strategies necessary to survive. Unfortunately, the gameplay feels repetitive after playing for a short while. You may not feel like the randomness is enough to give the game enough variety. That’s where the multiple game modes come in.
Game Modes – New Challenges to Overcome
There are multiple game modes in Bones of Halloween, each mode changing the experience of each run. Some modes will focus on risk vs. reward, such as getting increased money from enemies but losing money every second. Others will increase the difficulty to make it more challenging on yourself. There are also enough challenges that give you something to work towards, such as trophies or achievements.
With many challenges to complete and multiple game modes, there’s a long list of activities to do. Unfortunately, these modes don’t do enough to distract you from the monotony of the gameplay for long. Unless you are hunting for achievements, you will still find the gameplay repetitive and feel bored after a short time.
Audio & Visuals – Simple Visuals & Audio
Bones of Halloween has decent 3D visuals that don’t look out of place in a horror setting. The skeletons you fight look sufficiently scary, and you can always tell what you are fighting. The environment is dark enough to be spooky, but not too dark that you can’t tell what’s going on. It does a good job of creating a dark and frightening atmosphere where anything can jump out at you.
The audio is also appropriate for the atmosphere. It’s not too loud and it isn’t overshadowed by the gunfire. You know when enemies are coming and when they are attacking you. While the sense of fear is replaced by gunfire, the music reinforces the initial sense of dread when you start playing.
Bones on Halloween was reviewed on PS5 with a code provided by Ratalaika Games.