Developer: @unepic_fran | Publisher: @unepic_fran | Release Date: 2016 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam
When two super hackers decide they want to know more about the secrets hidden away aboard the Nakamura Space Station they decide to enlist the assistance of a mysterious agent. While her service doesn’t come cheap, she does have the rather useful ability to turn into a digital ghost that can take control of almost any android. After infiltrating the space station, it is up to you to take control of Ghost and help her employers to steal one of the greatest electronic secrets ever. Your mission is no stroll in the park though, as the station is brimming with robotic defenses that doesn’t take kindly to intruders.
Ghost 1.0 is a 2D Metroidvania title from the same developer behind Unepic. It is also quite clearly a labor of love that is packed with action, secrets and plenty of humor. Right off the bat players can choose between two very different game modes. “Classic” is, as the name suggests, a traditional take on the genre with your character becoming more powerful as the game progresses. “Survival” on the other hand gives the game a more rogue-like feel by giving you the good stuff much quicker, but at the cost of losing it all when your character dies. Thanks to the 3D printers dotted throughout the station it is not a big crisis when Ghost loses her chassis, but losing her hard-won belongings definitely stings. Even in classic mode where you get to keep your stuff you’ll want to avoid death as it robs you of your energy cubes, which is the equivalent of currency in this game. The game does have three different difficulty settings for each mode, so while it can be challenging it isn’t impossible.
In true Metroidvania tradition you’ll spend most of your time on the space station exploring rooms and corridors while blasting anything that gets in your way. The station is divided into different zones and with about 300 rooms to explore it should keep players busy for a while. Since each zone features its own soundtrack, enemies, visual style and boss encounter you don’t have to worry about getting bored either. The ability of your character to leave her chassis and turn into a digital ghost isn’t just a gimmick, but an integral part of the gameplay. Her “ghost” is not only invulnerable, but can fly, pas through doors and walls as well as take control of enemy droids. Bear in mind that her chassis is still vulnerable though, so it is best to park it in a safe spot before floating off.
While in ghost form you cannot enter doors or float into new areas, but luckily there are usually enemy droids around that can be hijacked for this purpose. Enemies will know when one of their own has been possessed though, and will open fire, so you will still have a battle on your hands. In addition to allowing you to explore ahead or reach areas that are inaccessible to your primary chassis, taking control of enemies is also essential for solving certain puzzles. In fact, the game features an entire infiltration sequence where you have to constantly hop between enemies while dodging security hazards. Enemies are weaker and less maneuverable than Ghost’s own shell, which makes for a nice challenge. Games like Messiah and Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee might have been first with this feature, but Ghost 1.0 definitely pulls it off very nicely.
In addition to tons of primary and secondary weapons that are for sale Ghost 1.0 also has plenty of upgrades and items. RPG fans will appreciate the skill tree, which features five branches, each with 12 skills to choose from. However, skill points are not gained from experience, but instead you’ll find them along with the keycard components scattered throughout the station. This means they are spaced out quite evenly and you’ll have to choose wisely as you won’t be able to pick close to all of them. Everything from double jumping and air dashing to jetpacks and more can be selected, with some skills even making your mission a bit harder by upgrading the station instead of your chassis, if that is what you prefer. Because you lose all energy cubes if you die and you cannot “bank” them either, the high cost items are a big risk, but the rewards are worth it. Often you’ll have to choose whether you want to push on and accumulate more cubes at the risk of losing them all or simply spend what you have on what you can currently afford.
Fans of old-school platform games that featured huge bosses will love what Ghost 1.0 has to offer. Not only are the bosses quite imposing, but defeating them also requires pattern recognition skills instead of simply blasting away. It is not just the bosses that pose serious threat though, as ordinary enemies can be quite a nuisance in large enough numbers. The station is packed with alarms that often cannot be avoided and when these are triggered the room you are in will go into lockdown. Enemies will then proceed to swarm in, which means you’ll have to stay alive until your employer is able to disable the alarm. To make things even more challenging the alarm level goes up each time it is triggered, but at least you are rewarded if you survive.
Visually the game looks great and the various locations you explore are all varied as well as detailed. We love the small touches like the way characters cast a reflection on windows as it makes the game look extra polished. The game also features frequent cut-scenes starring a cast of interesting characters. These scenes are not only packed with humor, but are also interesting enough that you won’t want to skip them. Best of all, after exiting the game and continuing your save you are shown a short “Previously on Ghost 1.0” segment made up of these cut-scenes just to remind you what was going on. This is definitely a feature we wish more games would implement.
It is not just the visuals that impressed us, but the audio as well. The soundtrack is varied and contains some nice tunes, but the voice-acting is particularly good. The game features a ton of humorous and engaging writing, so it is great to hear all the lines delivered by people who know what they are doing. One of the characters, Boogan, impersonates Samuel L Jackson so well that we had to check the credits in order to make sure it wasn’t really him. The actress lending her vocals to Ghost also does a stellar job and the voice acting really elevates the polished feel of the game. The controls are very responsive, but for some reason playing with a keyboard and mouse felt more intuitive to us than using a controller.
All in all Ghost 1.0 is a blast to play and if you are a fan of the genre it definitely belongs in your collection. We had a lot of fun exploring Nakamura Space Station and uncovering all its secrets. The secret “souls” to collect as well as the hidden “geekies” to find also extended the longevity of the game quite a bit. Some players might be annoyed that progress through the station is tied to key card collecting instead of uncovering new abilities, but that is about the only niggle we have. Ghost 1.0 is a great game at a reasonable price and to overlook it would be a crime.
- OS: Windows XP or later
- Processor: 2Ghz or faster processer
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: 512MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce)
- DirectX: Version 8.0
- Storage: 250 MB available space
- Additional Notes: To play normally, screen must be no smaller than 1280×720. Best resolution is 1920×1080