Ever since I played the original Luigi’s Mansion for the first time, I have had a soft spot for this quirky and genuinely charming series. And as somebody who gets scared very easily and thus cannot handle the real deal particularly well, its gentle approach to horror themes quickly captured my heart, tapping into my continuing love for mildly eerie scenarios and locales which was established as soon as I first stepped into the Donut Plains Ghost House in Super Mario World as a child. Unsurprisingly, I had been looking forward to another playthrough of Luigi’s Mansion 3 for a while before replaying it on stream earlier this month. Yet, as I was revisiting this favorite of mine, it was another one of its qualities that I was particularly keen to observe more closely.
Thinking back to my first time playing it, I had become aware of a subtler trait of Luigi’s Mansion 3 that had made the experience stand out to me so much: The way in which its basic design encourages a very deliberate or meticulous playstyle for those who are willing to embrace it — an observation that feels connected to what I tried to convey about the satisfaction that comes with fully completing a videogame a few weeks ago. Exploring the varied lively floors of the hotel is to me above all else an exercise in slowing down, in taking my time, in allowing myself to thoroughly search every nook and cranny of each and every single room I come across. On the surface, this may merely amount to a growing number of collected coins in the bottom left corner of the screen, but it also creates an initially unexpected atmosphere of tranquility. Even as I was streaming, it became easier to keep my mind from racing, to focus on what was right in front of me at any given moment, and to sift through every new location step by step.
There is definitely a certain irony to this, considering that Luigi’s ghost-hunting tool of choice is a ravenous vacuum cleaner. But strangely enough, my time with Luigi’s Mansion 3 reminds me of the seemingly so simple truth that everything meaningful takes time and space to grow naturally and to its full potential. Of course it would be possible for me to hastily move on and jump from one zany episode to the next. But instead, I am perfectly content with making sure that I do not leave anything behind during my little adventure. After all, is there really any reason to rush? Looking at my in-game actions from this angle, there suddenly emerges a laudable ideal that feels so utterly unobtainable in the real world yet shines a very different light on the time I spend hunting ghosts with Luigi…
Of course, once I stop playing, I keep falling back into the same trap of always striving to be as productive as I possibly can without any proper idea as to what exactly this should look like, setting myself up for failure over and over again. It is a trap I might never be able to escape. So I appreciate that, alongside the laughs and little scares, Luigi’s Mansion 3 offers me a glimpse of a saner and safer alternative to a reality that is haunted by its very own uncapturable ghosts.