Phasmophobia is defined as ‘An intense fear of ghosts’. Currently, Phasmophobia is an Early Access title on Steam taking your friends list and Twitch.tv by storm. So, given that it’s the spooky season I thought I’d pick up this game and review Phasmophobia. Now given it is October and Halloween approaches I feel given the current climate, no trick or treating shall happen, this game, however… is a treat in of itself. As such, let’s dive into this Phasmophobia review and I’ll tell you what all the hype is about!
-You may hear “Theres about fuckin nine of they Garcias” – Could not get the Twitch clip below to not autoplay. Apologies in advanced
-This game is Early Access meaning a full review will come once the game releases.
This is a review from a previous host and as such images are lost. Apologies
Let’s talk about the specs of this game vs the specs of my PC this time around. Although I always give you my PC specs, for an Early Access title these may change for any number of reasons. That is not necessarily a bad thing but it’s always good to remember where things started:
|Intel i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater||NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 or greater||8 GB RAM|
As you can see the game wants some older hardware, though fairly popular hardware and is not hard to come by. Personally I still have an R9 290x in a box in my bedroom as a backup. I bring these specs up is that this game runs amazingly well for the most part. Just as a refresher my main PC runs the following hardware:
|My CPU||My GPU||My RAM|
|Intel i7-7700k||NVIDIA GTX 1080||32GB|
In terms of the generational gap, there is not much. Thee CPU Cycles from Intel and 1 cycle from NVIDIA, but with that being said the game holds its own. Again though this may change (on both ends) and means I will have to do a review later once the game comes out of Early Access.
The story of this game is basically non existent, there is however a premise. You (and optionally 3 others) go to a place that is being haunted and find out which type of ghost you are dealing with for the real ghost hunters. Rather simple when you think about it. Here is where the problems starts, each ghost is different. Some are very active and some are almost dormant.
It is your job to clear the tasks on the board in the truck for some extra money and the first job is always to ascertain what you are dealing with. Easier said than done something, you have a myriad of tools at your disposal to help but ghosts can be stubborn. Even though it’s a game, the atmosphere is on point and I have to give the developers their dues for that.
Unfortunately there is not much of a story and what I said in my Descenders Review does still hold true:
When your game has a backseat (or non-existent) story, your gameplay needs to go above and beyondMe
So how about we segue into the gameplay?
I’m not sure about you but never have I done a task for so long and enjoyed it as much. This game from the perspective of the outside looking in is boring. If I were to stream this game with no microphone or face camera… your interest would wean exponentially. Allow me to elaborate for you. Initially you are in a van, you load up with 3 items and run into a house, asylum or school, you place those items and try to get a reading.
You can sit for a good half an hour and have nothing happen. So you run back in screaming at the ghost to see if it will give you a sign, but was it a helpful sign? Has what the ghost has just done help you to narrow down the type of ghost you are hunting? Probably not. In the event that it did give you something useful, most ghost archetypes share similar events, the difference is always 1 of the 3 types of evidence.
Now you gotta start somewhere right? You can go into the house with the limited gear and potentially find out your ghost, or you can get just enough evidence to make some money to get better equipment and start nailing the ghost each time. Having 2 video cameras in key positions is one thing, having 6 cameras around the area, salt to find footsteps, crucifixes to stop the ghost hunting, a book for it to write in, motion and sound detectors in sight of the cameras to see the movement of the ghost. Now we’re moving into Most Haunted territory!
Whilst cutting about the location with thousands of dollars worth of equipment you are being asked to distinguish the ghost and each ghost has its own characteristics. These characteristics can cause confusion however. One could assume that a ghost that has only shown its presence once in an hour is a Shade. Described as ‘‘Extremely shy, making it hard to find and detect.’, when out of the 3 options made available given the evidence, given your experience, if Shade is there, you will gravitate towards that, right?
But a Shade is similar to a Yurei. Both share the evidence of ‘Ghost Writing’ and ‘Ghost Orb’ and any rash moves at the beginning of the game like smudging a room can cause a false positive like this. Fear makes us do stupid stuff but given that when a ghost starts a hunt it is lethal, it’s understandable.
Out of the twelve ghosts, they all have the same phenomenon but with slight variations. They call can throw a cup or a photo, and they can all make dirty water appear in the sink, they can all trip the power and slam doors but they all do it differently. A Poltergeist will do this far more frequently than say an Oni. The key difference being that the Oni is far more likely to kill you within the first 10 minuets.
Ghosts can also be territorial which is great when the Jinn is defined as territorial – this is why trying to guess the ghost is hard. Sometimes you walk into the kitchen and the hunt starts, every time. The evidence amounts to ‘Spirit Box’ and ‘Ghost Orbs’ so you assume you’re dealing with a Jinn; the evidence and the territorial behaviour give you no other suspicions. It was a Mare.
We touched on this earlier but you do get an arsenal of equipment to assist in your hunt. Where Batman as a belt you have a van, stocked full of equipment that you can easily lose. You need to buy all this equipment in the lobby and it stays until death. Technically speaking it should make finding the ghost easier but the truth is, you can often trap the ghost in a room and use the equipment to make sure it stays put.
Naturally you get your cameras, readers, torches and ‘Spirit Box’ and some other starter gear when you click play, and you build this up over time. By the end of it you are only missing a camera crew documenting your trials and tribulations. Some objects like the parabolic microphone are only useful on the larger maps, but those maps are also really hard.
Every map also has at least 1 ‘default camera’: A security system or camera on the porch that you have access to depending upon the map. These maps also include a breaker box – some ghosts like it dark. You may also find a small bone, take a photo and pick it up, that’s easy money. You may also find a Ouija Board, take a photo of it but use it sparingly, successful communications drain sanity.
Watch your sanity closely! You become a great target for the ghost when your sanity is low and you will also see things your teammates don’t. Popping sanity pills can help but some ghosts drain sanity faster than others. You can talk to it using the ‘Spirit box’ – essentially a portable radio. If the ghost talks back, that’s 1 for the journal. Be mindful though, just like google, the game is always listening so don’t swear. Ghosts hate it.
We spent so long talking about the gameplay I feel I have neglected the performance of this game. First and foremost this is a Unity Engine game meaning it runs really good. The biggest issue with Unity is lazy developers. Not a problem here. This game runs well and without tweaking the settings at all, I get over 100fps on most maps. This does dip a little on larger maps but never to below 60, unless I am watching streams in the background.
Larger maps will cause a frame drop due to the amount of additional props and polygons being loaded but it’s not major. The developers have spent a fair amount of time optimising the game which is great. Many early access games don’t get that type of TLC in the early stages given they are Alpha builds of the game.
I cannot speak for the VR support on this game given I do not have a VR headset but I can say that I do not wish to play this game in VR. I simply don’t have enough trousers or underwear to support that decision. Given that it is Early Access I would assume that it is function but given my experience with similar games and VR, It’s probably already at it’s pinnacle and any updates would be quality of life over anything else.
Overall – It’s solid. No game breaking bugs encountered in over 20 hours. Now that number may seem low but with a small map pool and levelling up being easy; you play the same maps but at different difficulties. Being Early Access and all we will more than likely get more maps in the future, we’ll just have to wait until then.
Overall – Perfection. I cannot find an issue with this game. Yes its basically barebones but for what we have, It’s perfect. Future updates may cause this score to decrease once we hit the gold master, but until then, I have no gripes. So with such praise what are the scores?
The story -or premise if you will- is unique and fresh in the scheme of things. Every Halloween there is always 1 game that grips everyone and this year its Phasmophobia. Four player Co-op or single player plus VR? It’s definitely checking many boxes that are lacking in certain places. The uniqueness of this game also lends to a great viewing experience on Twitch, especially if the player scares easy.
When you sprinkle in some optimised performance you could be mistaken for thinking this was a full release. Given the price of £10.99 (Full RRP) and the lack of content you could class this as a standard Indie game. It’s polished and it works. Improvements on larger maps could be made but that’s just quality of life and frankly: 100FPS is still plenty.
Touching this game starts you on a long road to addiction. I cannot tell you how easy it is to sink hours into this game, in the past 2 days I sank half my playtime into this game on stream. It was 100% worth it and when you play with friends it can cut through much of the fear that comes with this game. That is until the ghost starts hunting, then it’s every man woman and child for themselves. Enjoy!