Since myVGBC.com received early review codes from Illfonic to play Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, the night before the review embargo we decided to do something different. Instead of rushing together a typical review, we held off and created more of a short study of the game and what makes it special to us.
Going forward, we may try to make this style of “review” more of a common thing. We will continue to do deep dive posts on games we have fully beaten (aka Game Diaries). However, I believe this new style of review may be closer to what you see in the future from myVGBC.com.
With so many online multiplayer games (mainly online shooters) available to us today, it’s surprising that any time I boot up an online game I am immediately matched with a group of players. I can list about ten online games, off the top of my head, that I’m confident I can login and start playing almost instantly. Plus, there are so many more online games out there that I don’t play and have never even heard of.
When it comes to online multiplayer games Illfonic has introduced some very interesting takes on classic film franchises over recent years. They first released Friday the 13th: The Game (which I backed on Kickstarter). One player was Jason while the rest were camp counselors, hiding out trying not to get killed. It was a nice concept, but the game eventually lost its audience.
Next came Predator: Hunting Grounds which I played a few times when it came to PS Plus for FREE at some point. This was another great concept, but the gameplay wasn’t quite there for me to continue.
When Illfonic released Arcadegeddon, I’ll admit I was excited to see some new IP from this studio. The game featured a colorful, new world full of weapons and items. I really enjoyed it while playing, but I quickly moved on to something else. I can see myself revisiting this game some time to see what’s changed since I first played.
Yesterday, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed was released by llfonic and this game definitely hits differently. While it follows the same sort of format as Illfonic’s previous licensed titles (Friday the 13th: The Game and Predator: Hunting Ground), what makes it unique is that it’s not about killing. Ghostbusters attempt to capture ghosts, while ghosts aim to haunt and wreak havoc on these locations.
Pre-Game: The Iconic Firehouse
There’s a whole lot going on in Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed. Exploring the Firehouse for the first time and running into Winston Zeddemore and Raymond Stantz was simply magical. The iconic Firehouse from the films acts as an explorable home base where you can do anything from customizing outfits to unlocking and equipping new items to your gear.
The game features an all-new original Ghostbusters story which uncovers itself as you play. The more matches you complete, the more cutscenes, character abilities, and overall story are revealed.
It’s not only about all of the activities that can be done within the Firehouse. The environment gives off a very homey feel, with relaxing music and a fun cast of characters — both old and new. I was surprised to hear the real life voices of Winston and Raymond (Ernie Hudson and Dan Aykroyd), and I cannot wait to find some of these newer characters (especially the ones voiced by Rahul Kohli and Greg Miller).
After almost a week of playing I’m currently around a Level 10 Ghostbuster, and I have already unlocked a good amount of upgrades and items. It’s nice when items, equipment upgrades, and outfits all unlock as you level up. Instead of choosing what to spend your points (or currency) on as you play. The character customization is simple to use, straightforward, and features many options.
Thus far, I have played many matches and have yet to come across two Ghostbusters that look exactly alike. The character customization possibilities are almost endless. Weapons and equipment upgrades adjust your look slightly, but also give equipment new strengths and weaknesses.
The Game: Ghost vs Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is an asymmetrical game (in true Illfonic fashion) with a 4v1 setup — one ghost against four Ghostbusters.
Ultimately there are two ways to play — as a Ghost or a Ghostbuster. Both classes level up separately, which makes sense since they are built and play differently. Ghostbusters have their basic equipment (Particle Thrower, Ghost Trap, and PKE Meter), while Ghosts rely on ectoplasm and special abilities to haunt locations.
While the Ghostbuster character customization is full of options, the ghosts are not quite as customizable. There are a few ghosts to choose from, all with some different special abilities. Since there is only one ghost per match they don’t need to be as customizable as Ghostbusters.
Matches play like a very intense game of hide and seek. From the Ghost perspective, you must haunt the whole location without getting caught. After getting caught in a Ghost Trap, it’s not over as long as you have a rift open somewhere. So, remember to protect the rift at all costs, as a ghost. Hide it in a good spot. An extra sneaky ghost can overheat proton packs and slime Ghostbusters from the shadows, by popping out of possessed objects.
As a Ghostbuster, your objective is to capture the ghost before they are able to haunt the entire location. I would advise that Ghostbusters pick up any and all fungus found on the ground, along with calming down civilians by speaking with them. These tasks gain points which will help you level up more quickly.
Laying out your Ghost Trap and capturing a Ghost is extremely satisfying — especially when it is your trap that caught the ghost. The game does a good job at making it tough to do this, by making sure players balance the use of their three equipped items.
The art style is kind of simple and cartoon-like, but at the same time this world feels very real. At times, the characters in cutscenes almost look like an advanced version of claymation. The ghosts are a bit cartoony as well, but the ecto glow is what makes them pop.
The character design incorporates just enough detail to look great, but not enough detail to be hyper realistic or stunning. The general look of the game works great, because it’s the right look for this Ghostbusters game.
As I’ve said before, it’s not about making the most realistic, best-looking graphics for a game. It’s about finding the right art direction that fits the particular game.
Will it Stick?
What makes this game special is that it’s not another shooter. Where there are two sides, who are both basically trying to kill each other. Your blaster works more as a lasso, than a weapon. Sure, it gets rid of those tiny little AI ghosts, but overall this is not a shooter. Your primary objective is to capture the objective, but the objective is another player — a ghost player. Unless of course, you are the ghost player, then you have a different objective, which is still not to kill the other players.
I look forward to continuing my journey in Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed and uncovering more of this story. This game also lends itself to more DLC and expansions to come. I don’t believe anything has been announced yet.
I’m not saying this game will live on, because I am not a games industry analyst. I’m saying this one definitely has a chance, because it’s something fun and different, yet familiar.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is out now on PC, PlayStation and Xbox.
*myVGBC.com was provided an early review code for Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed by Illfonic.