After a long break, Ghostbusters began to be remembered more and more often. Either a remaster of the old game will suddenly come out, or a film about the heirs of the famous four, the sequel of which is promised at the end of next year. And now there is a new game – Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed from the creators of Friday the 13th: The Game. The team seems to be experienced – it certainly turned out another game under the license! But in reality, it’s not that simple.
Four beat one
In general, it is strange that an asymmetric multiplayer game in this universe is coming out only now – the very idea of Ghostbusters fits almost perfectly into the gameplay of the 4 vs. 1. However, if you’re expecting familiar characters like Peter and Ray, you’re in the wrong place. The local hunters are created by the players: first you sculpt the hero in the editor, and then change his hairstyle and clothes, unlocking more and more options as you level up.
At the same time, the plot element is present in the game, although it does not go beyond the fire station. Except the story is limited to in-engine cutscenes: watch a video, you’re told to go hunting (i.e. play one or two matches), and then the next cutscene is shown. So the mini-plot about Winston Zeddmore, in which the ghost moved in, is not very interesting, and even ends before it starts.
In multiplayer, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed works in much the same way as other 4 vs. 1. On the one hand – a team of four hunters who catch a ghost in one of the five locations. And the fifth player controls the ghost: he scares people, summons groups of minions, spits mucus and, if caught, revives up to three times per match thanks to artifacts with hidden portals.
Ready for anything
All hunters are equipped the same way. The sensor allows them to search for ghosts and portals hidden in figurines, vases, and other objects. The particle emitter fires a beam that destroys objects and is able to bind the ghost so that it can then be dragged to the trap. You must place this trap on the ground, and then activate it. Well, proton packs hang on the backs of the hunters, which feed the emitters and give bonuses to the characteristics.
The more actively you participate in matches, the more equipment settings appear. The backpack, for example, can replace the generator – this will affect the damage to the portals and the speed of movement. Different antennas at the sensor change the speed of equipment selection, and the consumption of its charge depends on the body of the trap. To prevent the catching of a ghost from being delayed, a limitation was introduced: after activating the trap, you are given a few seconds to catch the enemy, after which the trap will be discharged – you will have to put it back in your backpack to charge it.
This is not the only timer in the game. The particle emitter heats up during use, so you need to periodically press the button to cool it down. For some reason, it is cooled by the same button that you use to raise your trap from the ground, and in about every match it bothered me. How the testers did not notice that the controls should have been slightly changed is not clear.
The problem is that the aforementioned modifications do not change the gameplay much. I installed a quantum accelerator on the particle emitter, which improves control over captured ghosts and slows down heating, but this did not affect what and how I did in the next match at all. You pull out the sensor, look for portals and the ghost itself, report the danger to your own, and then try to catch the ghost. Along the way, you calm people – employees of the museum, prison and other locations, otherwise they will run away in horror, speeding up the process of capturing the building for the ghost.
The game gets boring pretty quickly – if after the first matches I was ready to give Spirits Unleashed a positive rating, then over time it became more and more boring to play. The runs are very similar to each other no matter which ghost you are facing. I immediately recall the recent Evil Dead: The Game, where there was more randomness, and pumping significantly changed the characters. I spent several weeks there, but here I got the feeling that in one session I saw everything, and the next day this fear was confirmed.
Ready to fight in Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed
Ghosts are the exact opposite of hunters. They cannot change their equipment, and the appearance of ghosts is almost never customizable. But there are already five types of ghosts, and they open as you level up. Each species has several variations that differ in one of the skills: for example, one eyeball covers hunters with slowing down slime, and the other releases a ball of slime and throws it towards opponents. All ghosts have different passive skills: some shock people nearby, some call for help from more tenacious minions, and some are harder to stun or catch with a beam.
The task of the creature is not to get caught by hunters and capture the building. This requires capturing objects – statues, vases, chairs and more. Progress in each room is different, and the overall capture level determines how much time the opponents have to grab you. If you get caught once, it doesn’t matter – respawn in one of the portals. True, enemies can destroy portals, but they can be moved and hidden again.
Energy is spent on attacking techniques and capturing objects, and you can replenish it by moving into objects. It looks very funny – the developers paid a lot of attention to the animations. Running starfish move their “rays” in a funny way, drawers open near moving chests of drawers – you always smirk when you see such devilry. And in general, the gameplay for a ghost is more fun than for people: there are enough ways to mock hunters – to break backpacks and cover people with slime.
One in a big company in Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed
But the main thing is that the ghost does not depend on anyone. Playing as people in Spirits Unleashed brings only pain and suffering – many allies do not care about teamwork. Everyone scatters in the corners, does not reassure people (and they are useful – they can give hints) and seem to be busy with their own affairs. This is true for any game of this type, but especially here.
In this regard, playing with real people is not much different from playing with bots, since they don’t really want to win either. Thanks to the developers for the opportunity to earn progress in single player mode, but very often the AI does not seem to understand what needs to be done. When I found the portal and tried to destroy it, my partner ran up after half a minute and just looked at him. They catch a ghost thoughtlessly, sometimes without even setting traps, they rarely search for portals.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is great for a group of friends who understand the rules of the game and work together. But it will be difficult to assemble such a team, since the game is paid. “Randoms” are also handy, but there is a suspicion that the game will not live long – there is too little depth in it. The tactics are the same, the equipment does not really change, and there are not enough cards. I played almost all the matches with bots, because the game could not find people even with cross-play enabled.
At the same time, it is clear that the developers like the Ghostbusters universe and they wanted to make a solid game. The locations look pretty, the ghosts are charming, the customization options for hunters are endless, and when you return to the fire station, the first thing you see is the famous hunter car and indulge in nostalgia. However, the gameplay novelty falls short of other, more popular representatives of the genre.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed has soul, but it’s not enough to keep the game alive. If the first matches bring pleasure, then over time the gameplay becomes monotonous, and the comrades-in-arms are more and more annoying. Maybe future updates will change something?
Pros: funny Ghostbusters references; funny animations when playing as a ghost; the presence of a single mode with bots; a lot of settings for the appearance of hunters, opening as they level up.
Cons: The gameplay isn’t deep enough to hold for long; bots are very stupid and random people don’t like teamwork; pumping equipment does not greatly affect the gameplay; the plot is very short, and some of the events take place in the absence of the player; few cards; management is inconvenient.
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Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed release date – October 18, 2022.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is developed by Mad Dog Games, LLC, in collaboration with Saber Interactive.