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Evil Pumpkin: The Lost Halloween (PC) artwork

Evil Pumpkin: The Lost Halloween (PC) review

"Halloween is never celebrated in Dern. One clever boy is determined boy is going to find out why. "

Evil Pumpkin: The Lost Halloween

Before I begin this review I actually recommend this game, but be warned this is a difficult point and click game. This is not a game for the casual player, the easily and not so easily frustrated, or anyone who does not take notes while they play. (Reminds me of Deponia.) This game has some very obscure references and reading the dialogue is extremely important. (Skip dialogue at your own risk.) More importantly is remembering some absurd remark or off-topic thought of some character a chapter or two later. The clues are there, masked behind riddles that in some cases are very, very oblique, referenced in a the boy's journal, among diary page text or in some dialogue remark earlier in the game.

Storyline: The Boy (whose name is, by inferred references, Lautrec Van Hollow) steals/takes his father's book "Halloween" on October 30th. Being a clever little boy, he says so himself (and quite determined), he wants to find out what Halloween is and why Halloween is never celebrated in his town of Dern. To do this he needs to decypher the book, escape his room (I think he is grounded or it is past his bedtime) and go talk to adults who were around when Halloween existed.

Just a note here: The game dialogue is rather snarky, full of off-kilter remarks, and is very absurd at times. I found most of the dialogue amusing, in a disbelieving type of way, since all the adults seem crazy until the end (and they are hiding a secret). Leave normal reasoning and logic at the door since having both will only deter your game play. An example of what I mean is this: The raven, whose name I inferred was Lester, wants a golden pipe, a newspaper, a pair of slippers, and a glass of wine for nightcap before he moves out of the boy's way. Absolutely illogical and utterly absurd, but rather funny too. The whole game plays like this, so be warned.

Game play: Difficult, very difficult in places, but not impossible as some of the negative reviews claim. (I personally did not run into a game breaking glitch at the end and running in circles meant taking a break to clear my head.) As I said this game is difficult, and the logic obscure, at best.

The easy parts: The Hidden Object scenes were fair and the objects not unfairly hidden. The items found in each scene basically match the area found, though littered with unusual items. I did not find the actual puzzles overly challenging, but they are brain twisters. The puzzle variety includes music, sliders, logic, recipe and picture puzzles. I would call the "knocking the sock down", "candle", and "lock picking" puzzles, mini-games. The "candle" and "lock picking" puzzles, my son, a player of FPSs and fast paced RPGs did both in about 15-20 seconds, first time, though I took much longer and required several tries. The point is, both are doable with patience and speed, respectively. I only had trouble with one puzzle, and not the "candle" or "torch" puzzles so many have issue with. (The torch puzzle actually made sense to me, and I did it first try.) My trouble puzzle was the gate puzzle going into pumpkin-head town between chapter 4 and 5. The riddle on the gate makes no sense as most riddles in this game seem to do. It really is not nonsense, just extremely oblique. Once I knew the answer it made perfect sense afterwards (even the riddle).

The hard parts: The point and click game play is uneven. Some of it is very easy, other parts are very difficult. I think some of the difficulty comes from the size of some objects needed to be found. (The thimble on the train set comes to mind. It is very small.) I hunted and hunted for what needed to be done in that scene and found the thimble by accident. (Oh by the way the cursor does change into a little octopus so careful searching of the entire screen is needed quite often.) The other difficult part of the point and click scenerios is just the flat out oblique logic used and odd use of items (the golf club once totally disassembled comes to mind). The logic of this game really reminds me of Deponia: strange, weird, and HUH? Also the game inhibits the player from moving ahead in the story before the present tasks are completed or gaining items too soon in the story. A good example of this is the guitar string in the toy shop. A player may 'twang' the string early in the game but can not take it until later in the game when needed. I can only presume the string's 'twang' is a subtle auditory reminder that the string is there and will be needed later.

On a more even note: the boy uses a gizbelt, a clever invention of his. The gizbelt carries his gizstruments which by the end of the game include a pairs of scissors, a hatchet, a slingshot, and a pencil. These gizstruments upgrade (or down grades in the case of the pencil) through gameplay as they are used and the pair of scissors that could barely cut paper at the beginning of the game can cut through metal chain by the end. So if the gamer knows they need to cut something and can not do it wait until the scissors upgrade then try it again. These items are used to do certain things and should not be overlooked when needing to do something like cut, break or retrieve things though the gamer might have to wait for the upgrade.

There is a fast travel map once the gamer leaves home and the map is completed. The first chapter takes place at the boy's home which includes 2 upstairs rooms and hallway, the main entrance (called lobby), the basement, the front of the house, the front yard, and the fountain. (No map). There are six chapters in this game. Up until Chapter 6 the game play is linear and the gamer can not move forward until every task is completed for that chapter, and there is no going back. Chapter 6 goes everywhere but once all the tasks are completed in an area, the areas close off. The map will show with "an exclamation mark" if something needs to be done. Using the hint button I would say is a must, if the gamer does not use the map. It will at least get the gamer to the place something needs to found or something needs to be done. The hint button can be refilled by looking for little bats in scenes.

A word about candy, in this game the gamer can collect various types of candy found lying around on the floor, on shelves or stuck to furniture or buildings. The only thing candy is good for is buying Halloween items from the store and decorating the Van Hallow back yard. This has nothing to do with the game so do not fret about missed candy pieces. It is just something fun to do if so inclined.

In conclusion, despite the game's difficulty level and lack of normal logic, I found this game much more enjoyable to play on a replay then the first frustrating and hair pulling time though.

NOTE: I play on Steam, and due to the amount of notes I took while playing the first time I created a Steam community guide.
(This review has been modified from its original form for this site.)


joan4003's avatar
Community review by joan4003 (January 10, 2016)

Joan would much rather give up her day to write but that requires a substantial income and in-coming paychecks for said writing ability.

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