Paper Cut Mansion Review | Pocket tactics

by Ana Lopez

It may not be Halloween anymore, but there’s always room for more spooky games, especially ones that younger gamers can enjoy. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a huge hit on the Nintendo Switch, and we all know how much Nintendo fans love the paper aesthetic, so a cute little title like Paper Cut Mansion fits neatly into both demographics while doing something different at the same time.

Paper Cut Mansion is an action rogue-like with some dimension-hopping twists and feels much more like Tim Burton than Luigi’s Mansion. It’s set in a big gnarly house that seems straight out of a pop-up book; every hallway, character, and piece of furniture looks hand-drawn and folded from a physical card, giving everything a charming aesthetic that gives the gameplay a whole heap of creepy vibes.

Everything starts when your character Toby, a police detective, gets lost in the woods. Before you know it, they wake up in Paper Cut Mansion without their memories, but surrounded by the undead, skeletons, ghosts and lawyers. It’s up to you to find out what happened, find the evidence needed to regain your memories and finally escape. Finding your way around the mansion is a mix of twin-stick gunfights and some interesting puzzle-solving elements as well.

Let’s start with puzzles, because when you first walk through the house you will notice that a small green moth accompanies you and plants itself on a wall and emits a shrill beep when there is something interesting in the room. These could be secrets, money, or puzzles yet to be solved, but keep an eye on your little bug if you’re hoping to get anywhere. When exploring items, pick up furniture or other interactive objects and spin them around in 3D like a Super Smash Bros trophy.

Paper Cut Mansion review: A papercraft scene shows a man exploring a haunted forest
This is a fun way to actually play with things, and while you usually open drawers to find some coins, or discover money strapped to the back of an old clock, occasionally you’ll find little puzzle boxes or similar tests that ask you to mess with these objects and watch how they interact with the world. Sliding tile puzzles, combination locks and much more, there are many puzzles tucked away and figuring out how they apply to the levels themselves is a pleasure and a modest challenge, if a little cumbersome with the way you rotate them in 3D space.

Now if you open some doors and explore part of the mansion you will see that there are a few different dimensions waiting for you and to progress anywhere you need to meet the demands of the NPCs. This is where combat comes into play, and a fairly nice arsenal of weapons awaits. In keeping with Paper Cut Mansion’s creepy denizens, the enemies are all zombies, skeletons, and other undead creatures, who prowl the many rooms just yearning to fold you up.

Paper Cut Mansion review: A 3D image shows a combination lock
Your general weapon is a big boomstick, and a shotgun will do most of the work, but as you explore and perform tasks for NPCs, you’ll also unlock cards with extra abilities, with three different slots waiting to be filled. In addition, there are explosives, traps and even a small drone, and these complement the main action nicely without ever overwhelming you. While there are a few things to play around with, there really should be more variety in the main weapons, and the game’s difficulty takes a sharp turn very early on, so you’re soon doing a lot of the same actions on repeat.

Another important element is the fact that you have three different health bars, divided between the three main dimensions you are exploring. You can jump between these quite freely, and as you take down more enemies and explore the mansion, more roads and shortcuts will come your way. One problem here is that things get very confusing very quickly. It’s quite difficult to get your bearings, but you’ll need to explore each area to find evidence. These are one of the things that carry over between runs, and they help Toby figure out what exactly is going on in this haunted house.

Paper Cut Mansion review: A paper art scene shows a man made of cardboard standing in front of a stage full of undead performers

I wish exploring was a bit more fun, but in addition to a limited arsenal, movement feels really slow, and there’s no easy way to flit around the map. The areas are also quite similar, even between dimensions, so the gameplay gets repetitive very quickly. If you can fight your way through that, there are some nice rewards to be found, such as cosmetics and various unlockable items, but I couldn’t really bring myself to do that, and the few rewards I got didn’t change things either a lot .

The main draw of Paper Cut Mansion is the visuals, and luckily these are great. If you want a creepy game and can get through the slightly boring gameplay, this house is beautiful, the characters are great, and there’s some really funny dialogue hiding in there. However, I think this aesthetic and story fit a different type of game, as the strong design is negated by the fact that you come back to it so often.

Paper Cut Mansion review: A papercraft scene shows a man walking through a haunted house with a candy cane gun

The game also feels a little stiff on the Nintendo Switch, with a slightly wobbly frame rate, especially when there are complex lighting effects, such as when Toby uses a flashlight. It all looks great in photos, but in motion it can feel a bit erratic, and lag can also contribute to the gameplay feeling so sluggish to me. There’s nothing groundbreaking, but the title clearly struggles to achieve a consistent framerate on Switch, and it certainly didn’t help me get through the repetitive gameplay.

If you like the villain genre and want to switch off your brain and just blast away, then you might love Paper Cut Mansion. It has a lot going for it, with great visual design, great audio, and some fun puzzles as you explore the house. But I found myself getting bored of the cardboard stiff gameplay and wish they had put a few more ideas into the mix. It’s not as bad as A3 or A4, but there are much better rogue-like games out there.

Table of Contents

Paper Cut Mansion Review

A charming aesthetic and a few fun ideas are held back by repetitive gameplay and some performance issues. Anyone wanting to play something creepy is in for a treat, but there are far better rogue likes out there for anyone looking to enjoy some action.

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