Morbid fear of ghosts.
You would think with a title like that, that this game would be about trying to escape a ghost in a haunted house. Well if that is what you thought, then I have some news for you. Phasmophobia is quite the opposite—you’re not running away from the ghosts, you are running towards them.
In Phasmophobia you play the role of a paranormal investigator. You are assigned one of the various locations already available in the game to investigate. These locations include some houses, farmhouses, a high school, or an asylum. You are equipped with an arsenal of tools that would be used by real life paranormal investigators. You are then provided with the task of identifying the type of ghost that is causing terror in that location.
How you discover which horrific creature you’re dealing with is through simple process of elimination. Search through the location whilst utilizing all the equipment available to you to find various clues such as: infrared handprints, freezing temperatures, EMF readings, ghost writings, spirit box interaction, or watching for an orb through a placed video camera.
Once you’ve found three clues, you can then deduct which type of ghost is apparent by filling out the information in your journal. When all the clues are logged, it will match with one of the ten different types of ghosts. Once this is finished, head back to the truck and get the heck out of there! But be wary and act fast because you’re not the only one on the hunt.
Depending on the difficulty of the mission you are playing, the ghost will start to target you or any other player after a set amount of time (or instantly on professional difficulty). Once a ghost is on the hunt, it will chase you down and try to kill you. There are a few ways to prevent yourself from being hunted: you can place down a crucifix, salt or some smudge sticks to prevent the ghost from attacking. Don’t have any? Then you have to run and hide; just make sure you find a good hiding spot, or else.
Aside from the main objective of identifying the ghost, there are a few optional objectives available. These can include anything from experiencing paranormal activity, preventing the ghost from hunting, or taking a picture of the ghost. I would also like to note that even if it isn’t listed as an objective, taking pictures of ghosts or ghost activity will reward you bonus money at the end of the round. This money will allow you to buy more helpful items to use in your future investigations.
There is also a sanity meter in the game. Be sure to mind this because the lower your sanity is, the more likely you are to see paranormal activity and also the more likely you are to become the ghost’s target. Luckily, you can purchase pills that replenish your sanity.
What I find really unique and innovative about this game is the interaction you can have with the ghosts, and it is one of the best mechanics in the game. The game boasts a really well-implemented voice recognition system that lets you speak directly to the ghost! You can interact in a few ways. One way is through a Ouija board that can be randomly found in the map, with which you ask the ghost a question and watch how it answers.
You can also communicate to the ghost simply by just talking. No matter where you are in the location, the ghost is always listening. It can also communicate back to you (if it has the ability to) via the spirit box I mentioned earlier. This mechanic is really neat because you can ask it questions or tell it to do things, and it can answer! You can also anger the ghost by saying its name repeatedly or by calling it a plethora of nasty names (but as a Christian I wouldn’t want to do something so uncharitable).
Each ghost also not only has a particular set of clues assigned to them, but they display distinct personalities through their interaction with the players. Some ghosts will only react to certain things when a player is alone, some will not hunt if you have the lights on, and some ghosts just don’t give a darn. This means you have plenty of variance in your investigations thus giving this game a really high replay value. It also means keeping on your toes at all times!
In my experience with the game so far, this has definitely become one of my favorite horror games that I have ever played—and believe me, I have played a lot. No other game can match the intensity and atmosphere that this game provides, ESPECIALLY in VR. The realistic maps, the lighting, the different ghost models and hearing the ghost say “attack” through the spirit box will test the mettle of even the most seasoned horror fans.
Phasmophobia refreshes a genre that has been putting out sub-par games for years (sans the occasional Amnesia and Resident Evil). It’s a unique and fun experience, and while it can be played on desktop, VR is hands-down the most definitive way to play. It is also very enjoyable to play with friends, which can be done via private or public multiplayer lobbies. Just make sure to use the in-game chat for a more immersive experience!
I’m really looking forward to this game’s future, despite the fact that October/Halloween season is already over. I can easily see myself enjoying this game year-round.
At the moment this game is only being developed by one or two people. They have an ambitious roadmap (linked below) so please show them support!