If ghost hunting shows such as Ghost Adventures excite you, then Phasmaphobia is the game for you. Dive into the world of paranormal investigation, as you explore haunted locations with your friends or, if you dare, solo. Phasmaphobia is an indie horror-survival game, developed by Kinetic Games, which is currently in early access. Usually, a game in early access would have me cautious, but after playing all my worries were put to rest.
As a gamer that isn’t massively into horror games, Phasmaphobia offers you a completely unique gaming experience. I cannot say that I have seen this type of game before so have nothing to compare it to. However, this title holds up on its own, and the amount of fun I have had whilst looking for ghosts is unbelievable. I never thought I would be enthralled by a horror game, but Phasmaphobia ticks all the right boxes. It has the perfect balance of searching for the ghosts, equipment types, and seeing the ghosts face to face to create a tense yet fulfilling gaming experience.
Being completely new to the game, the objective sounds simple. Go into a building, search for evidence of ghost activity, and choose which ghost type is present. However, it is far more complex than this. If you were to just go straight into the game without playing the training mode (which I did), you are going to need to learn what to do quickly. Luckily, the community are very friendly, and you can join a public game and people will teach you the best methods to track down and figure out what ghost you are dealing with. The thermometer is your most important tool, this is going to tell you exactly what room the ghost is in. The location of the ghost will always be below 12 degrees Celsius; this will be the starting point of your investigation for each ghost you hunt. From this point onwards it gets trickier, as now you must narrow down which ghost type it is out of a possible twelve! Each ghost type will have its own set of attributes, and most importantly, its own set of evidence to discover, which in turn leads you to choosing the correct ghost type. This evidence is acquired through the use of tools, such as the thermometer, EMF reader, spirit box, UV flashlight, ghost writing book, and video cameras. Whilst other tools in the game can help your search, they will not provide any evidence on the ghost. Each ghost will provide you with three pieces of evidence, which you will then note down in your journal, giving you the correct ghost type. This is a much more of a challenge if you only find two of the three pieces of evidence as you will be given a choice of two ghosts, meaning you could select the wrong ghost type and provide the wrong report, in turn not being paid properly for the job. Successfully collecting evidence and identifying the ghost type is hard work, but once achieved is highly rewarding.
With several locations to explore, ranging from simple town houses to fully fledged prisons, the experience is different every time. While there are only a few maps at the moment, you always find yourself walking into the unknown, making the gameplay fresh and fun every time. The maximum player limit is up to four players and tackling the bigger maps such as the prison can be extremely difficult unless you have three or more players. This is mainly down to the sheer size of the map, meaning takes an exceptionally long time if you do not have the recommended players.
Investigations can get tense and take a nasty turn at the flick of a switch. Personally, the creepiest experience is when you get activity on the spirit box. The spirit box is used to talk to ghosts, this works by talking into it while it changes between different frequencies to try and find some activity. Bearing in mind that only certain ghosts will respond to the spirit box, you must ask specific questions for this to work. These can be questions such as “Are you here?” or “Give us a sign”. While it’s going through the frequencies, it will show “nothing detected” if there is no response. However, if the ghost does respond to you, it is very unnerving. The scariest experience I have had with the box is when my friend and I asked, “Where are you?” and the ghost replied “Next”, as if it was next to us, watching us. Now this was quite unsettling but not the worst thing it could have said. So, we proceeded to press and ask more questions. “Are you angry?”, to which the box read out in its creepy robotic voice “Attack”. We both bolted for the front door quicker than you could say Phasmaphobia. I managed to get out unscathed, but then the ghost started its hunt with my friend locked inside. As he scrambled around inside trying to get into a room and close the door before the ghost found him, I watched with concern through the window. Staring at the stairwell, the ghost walks down, but stops halfway. He turns his whole body to look straight at me, holding a big meat cleaver in his hands. Even though I knew I was safe; I can still remember the terror his soulless stare instilled upon me. Long story short, my friend was killed, I go and find his body, snap a quick picture, get paid $10 for a picture of my friends’ corpse.
All in all, a frightful and intense experience, with unique and entertaining gameplay. Not what I expected, but what I so desperately needed. Phasmaphobia perfectly fills the small horror section that my brain needs, no more, no less. While the graphics are basic, I actually think it works quite well for the game. If it had ultra-realistic graphics, for me at least, it would be far too scary. The fun is certainly enhanced when played with friends, so make sure you get your best ghost hunting team together for this one!