Do you remember the last time you put yourselves in the shoes of paranormal investigators like The Warrens or Ghostbusters, uncovering the truth behind the hauntings of demon dolls and cursed houses?
Probably never. But Phasmophobia is here to change that.
Winning the Best Debut Game of 2020 at The Game Awards, Phasmophobia is a first-person (VR and Non-VR) fresh take on the horror genre where you and up to 3 friends work together to investigate hauntings in an immersive environment that puts you on the edge of your seat.
Currently in early access and dated for a full release in 2021, what surprised us further was how Kinetic Games, the studio behind the project is manned by a single developer, known as Dknighter.
The game revolves around a few simple elements; after selecting a contract, you are placed into the back of a surveillance van with the main objective of trying to identify the ghost. If you have watched ghost hunting types of reality tv, then the items you are handling in-game would not be unfamiliar. From EMF readers, motion sensors, to night vision video cameras, and even the Ouija board – you will be using all these items as an instrument to help communicate with the paranormal. It will not be a one-sided communication of course…
Despite lacking a storyline or a narrative, Phasmophobia fully compensates with its sound design and how immersive the gameplay manages to set you in. As soon as you step into the house after equipping yourself, the game nails this feeling of tension and anxiety. A sense of fear crawls up your spine from the ambient change in sound, as the complete muffled silence screams dread at you.
You can also be that guy who fights for the role to look at night vision cameras at the comfort of your surveillance van.
Using your mic is one of, if not the most significant aspect of the game. Looking through unlit rooms for a ghost might be a bonding experience with your friends that you might have already found in some horror games but trying to talk to one is an entirely different story. Deploying spirit boxes to ask where and how old the ghost is, is a fresh and unnerving experience when you do actually hear a response.
From the animation to the art assets, nothing feels quite like a super polished game without bugs, but Phasmophobia’s selling point just isn’t that. It succeeds in its unique encounters you experience in each different play. Even with its poor animation, seeing a “Yurei” (Japanese vengeful spirit with the likes of Ju-on or Sadako) rattle and crawl towards you will make you abandon all friendships or forget some of your beliefs with the existence of spirits.
Jump scares are a big thing in horror games and we’re almost sick of it yet Phasmophobia has its distinctive way with it that doesn’t make it feel forced. There are plenty of incidents and clues in-game like whispers, moving objects, or flickering lights that will make your hair stand. Hearing the footsteps of ghosts skip across the doorway while you hide in discomfort with your friends in the illusion of safety behind doors is something that happens too often.
Sorry dude, every man for himself..
Although Phasmophobia thrives as an online co-op game, nothing is stopping you from trying to take on this horror game solo. If you are that kind of guy.
The only flaw about the game is progress, because what does not kill you, makes you stronger and desensitizes you to the overall experience. Players who grind enough and figure out their way around the game would be ambivalent to the scares and the hauntings, and will thus successfully expel the experiences out of the game like an exorcism.
Still, you can see a vast number of high-level players enjoy the game’s intensity and the procedural ghosts it promises. One of the core strengths of the game is how the developer includes the community in his development process. With an open platform on Discord and Steam Discussions to provide thoughts, feedbacks, and throw suggestions – Phasmophobia pushes out constant updates and patches without fail, making it a huge potential to become one of the best multiplayer horror games out there (if it is not right now) to look forward to in 2021!
Currently priced at $14.00, the early access Phasmophobia is worth getting before it becomes a fully released game with more maps, ghosts, unpredictability, and a hefty new price tag.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Despite a lack of narrative, Phasmophobia compensates with an overall unnerving experience and chilling gameplay that doesn’t ask too much from your Steam wallet.
Gameplay - 9/10
Story - 5/10
Presentation - 7/10
Value - 9/10