Grey Alien Games has a knack for the endearing. Even when doing something relatively mundane or iterative, they manage to pull it off in such a way that is approachable and fun, all while having their own certain style about it. This was previously seen in their excellent Regency Solitaire, and the trend continues with their newest Steam release, Spooky Bonus. Released just in time for Halloween, this match three title manages to capture that classic casual puzzle gameplay in a charming fashion.

The game has a family friendly Halloween aesthetic, blending some visually dark scenery with colourful play areas. The matching objects look like the sort of thing you'd find in a kid's book, and I think it's a welcome change of pace to the usual releases that are geared towards Halloween. Instead of being horrific, it's warm and inviting. The backgrounds are very well drawn, and sometimes push against the family-friendly feel, though I think it never really crosses any boundaries.

The sounds are pretty good too, with a dramatic soundtrack that still feels inviting, the sort you'd hear at a public haunted house. Though there's not much to the music, it definitely works with the whole aesthetic. The sound effects are light and cartoonish, with bubbling cauldron noises and springing sounds for cleared matches, and power-ups that have appropriate but far from realistic effects whether they be blessed crosses or exploding fireworks. It's fun this game is about, and it stays on focus all the time.

There is a wide variety of power ups you can activate and collect as you play through as well. Much like in Regency Solitaire, you earn money as you proceed through the levels, and you can spend that money to unlock new abilities. Making matching groups larger than three will spawn some of these on the board, allowing you to clear entire rows, diagonal cross-sections, or an area around the item. There are also activated abilities that you can power up as you make matches, which help you clear off tiles or objects from the board.

You'll need these abilities too, as there are a great deal of obstacles that prevent you from reaching your level objectives easily. Cobwebs and stone tiles need to be cleared off before the objects under them can be matched, and different coloured tiles need to matched on in order to remove them for level completion. It allows for some variety in the level design, and that potential is taken advantage of.

With an incredible number of levels, it's surprising that the level design doesn't get dull. The different objectives help, such as clearing all the gold tiles, removing all the stone tiles, and collecting a target number of golden skulls, as well as some interesting ways they play with the mechanics. By having a variety of layouts, including more than one board on the playing area, as well as using the obstacles like the cobwebs and stone tiles, you really can find yourself playing through something different enough each level to keep it from getting too dull.

It also retains one of my favourite, albeit simple, aspects from Regency Solitaire. When you complete a level, or whenever you go to your home no matter what upgrades you have so far, you get the option to make the background your desktop wallpaper. It's such a minor thing, but I can't help but find it charming, and I'm glad that it's there.

Obviously, if you're not interested in match three games, this isn't going to be something for you. However this kind of game does have its audience, and it's a large one. If you're a fan of match three games, this is one of the better ones I've played. If you're just looking for a way to pass some time, it's really good for that too - I sat down to play it, and didn't notice how long I'd played until several hours had passed. While it's not as memorable as Regency Solitaire, it stands on its own merits enough to warrant a recommendation, especially at this time of year.