Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection provides players with a classic "Ghosts 'n Goblins" experience complete with difficult levels that will cause hundreds of deaths, lots of secrets to discover, and a sense of accomplishment for making even the smallest bit of progress. Since 1985, the Ghosts 'n Goblins franchise has delighted and frustrated fans with its incredibly difficult gameplay. The franchise centers on the armor-doffing Sir Arthur as he tries to slay various undead and evil creatures while trying to save his princess from a demon lord. The franchise is notorious for its absolutely unforgiving levels as Arthur's armor provides him with only the slightest measure of protection against the literal hordes of monsters that come at him. If the hordes weren't enough, Sir Arthur also has to deal with powerful boss monsters that require different strategies (and a lot of timing) to defeat.
After a 15 year absence, Capcom has resurrected its Ghosts 'n Goblins franchise with Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection. The updated 2D graphics provide a storybook feeling to the game making the new adventure a thrill to look at. However, that fantasy feeling quickly disappears once you actually sit down and dig into the first levels. For better or worse, Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection doesn't pull its punches – every level is filled with dozens of deathtraps lined up in a brutal fashion. Sir Arthur's armor remains as unreliable as ever and falls off after a total of two hits which leaves you vulnerable to the monsters that crawl and shamble at you at all times. As you slowly progress through levels, you'll encounter various secret treasures and new weapons, although you'll question whether you want to actually take the effort to find them and risk dying even more times.
If the never-ending hordes weren't enough, players will also have to contend with an ever-shifting landscape that leaves little room for error. During one level, you'll have to snuff out candles to progress from platform to platform, making leaps of faith in the darkness. In another level, players will have to ride on a series of flying dragons, hopping from one to another without any sort of safety net below. Luckily, there are frequent checkpoints and save points, although even making to those feels like a major accomplishment. The levels are replayable, so players can focus on surviving at first and then make another run to pick up that missing treasure and uncover a level's secrets.
Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrections does contain some new gameplay features. For one, there's a new magic system in the Umbral Tree system. Players collect Umbral Bees throughout levels and use those to unlock new spells and upgrades in the Umbral Bees. These upgrades aren't so overpowered that you'll run through a level without any issues, but the spells and extra weapon slots do take the edge off of some of the most difficult parts of the game. Additionally, there is a multiplayer function that allows a second player to control a friendly spirit that provides extra firepower and support to Arthur as he moves through the levels. Having a second player can make a Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection run "easier," but it requires a LOT of coordination.
To its credit, Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection understands that the main draw of the franchise is its extreme difficulty. The levels, even on the lowest "Page" difficulty, are very hard to complete. The game does offer players with the chance to lower the difficulty if a player keeps dying in a particular part of a stage, although that lower difficulty feels a bit like taking over-the-counter Tylenol after getting your teeth pulled. Once you get past the initial shock of just how sadistic the game is, you'll find yourself looking forward to seeing what horrific twist or stage design is coming next. The boss fights are also a lot of fun – they're incredibly challenging, but I loved how unique each fight felt and how you often had to figure out strategies on the fly as the bosses pulled out new tricks and surprises.
My biggest frustration with the game is that it mostly relies on players already understanding how Ghosts 'n Goblins games work. There's a lot of trial and error involved, and the game doesn't explain about things like the differences between weapons or what the various treasure drops do (hint: most of them don't do ANYTHING). I also dislike that there are monsters that are borderline impossible to kill – the Red Arremer in the Graveyard is a particularly early frustration that left me cursing out loud before I realized that there was no point in engaging it. These early obstacles will turn off a lot of players as the lack of a cohesive guide and the extreme difficulty may make a lot of players quit and move to an easier game.
If you are a fan of the Ghosts 'n Goblins franchise, you'll love Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection. This is not a "casual" game by any stretch, but it does provide a challenging experience that has been mostly forgotten in a more modern style of video games. Making it through even the first stage is an accomplishment and successfully completing the game will leave you with the same feeling of invincibility that you felt when you beat a game on hard more as a kid.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5