I Aint ‘fraid of No Ghost!

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a new Ghostbusters game, and thanks to the sudden resurgence of the license with the success of the latest film; Ghostbusters: Afterlife we get a new video game using the license. Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is developed by Illfonic the makers behind the ill fated asymmetrical multiplayer game Friday the 13th as well as Predator: Hunting Grounds so they are familiar with 80’s licenses. In Ghostbusters players will create their very own Buster-in-Training before being set loose to help clean up New York.

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is in a lot of ways a love letter to the franchise. Gameplay is setup as an asymmetrical multiplayer game which will pit a team of 4 Ghostbusters vs 1 spooky specter. But whereas games like Dead by Daylight or Evil Dead lean into the dark and scary aspect of their games Ghostbusters is spooky in the same way that the films are. The developers really nailed the feeling of being apart of the Ghostbuster world, they even got Ernie Hudson and Dan Akroyd to reprise their roles of Winston Zeddemore and Ray Stanz respectfully. And for a multiplayer game I am happy to say that Spirits Unleashed feels like a fun episode of the 80’s cartoon The ‘REAL’ Ghostbusters; which is a very good thing. While the story is short and works more like a tutorial it is still fun to see all these characters doing what we remember them doing back in the day.

MSRP: $39.99
Platforms: Xbox (reviewed), PlayStation, PC
Price I’d Pay: $39.99

That nostalgia extends to the overall graphical art style of the game as it evokes the feel of the cartoon as well. The Firehouse is filled with easter eggs, including the Ecto -1 and firepoles which players are free to slide down. The graphics are amazing in this game, all of the attention to detail in all of the famous equipment was a truly welcome surprise, especially for what’s a budget title. Each of the five maps that players will have to explore are equally as well done; each of them has a different palette and while it may seem like a low amount of maps I was never sick of playing on any of them. The variety in ghost and how players use them made each match feel completely different even in a map that I have been on a handful of times in the same day.

There are two ways to play Spirits: Unleased; the first of which is to play as the Ghost, whose job it is to completely haunt the map. The most effective way to do this is to float around and scare the pants off the AI bystanders. The more of them that players can send fleeing in terror the faster the haunting meter progresses. While looking for victims to scare the Ghost can also haunt objects around the environment. These range from chairs and lamps to giant dinosaur models and everything in between. Not only will this help to increase the fear of the bystanders, but it also will throw the ‘Busters off the ghost’s track as it will confuse their PKE Meters and make it easier for the ghost to slip by.

Each ghost has various abilities that will help them to haunt each building and combat the Ghostbusters. These are powered by ectoplasm and will be drained as the ghost attacks or uses abilities. In order to refill the meter, the ghost need only to possess an inanimate object; a teddy bear, a statue, a mop you name it. All of this leads to some *laugh out loud* moments as a team of Ghostbusters are chasing around a wet floor sign. While there is no health meter in this game, the Ghostbusters can be slimed, which of course is a throwback to the films, but this will put the busters in a downed state temporarily and allow the Ghost to get back to it’s work of haunting the building.

On the flip side of this is playing on the team of Ghostbusters, whose job it is to capture the ghost, and destroy rifts that are hidden throughout the level and act as extra lives for the ghost. Each time a ghost is captured they respawn using one of their rifts, but players can locate the hidden rifts with the PKE meters, teamwork and communication. Luckily for those who don’t want to talk on a microphone the game employs a very good ping system which will tell teammates what’s happening with the press of a button. If the team of Ghostbusters can capture the ghost 3 times or find and destroy 3 rifts before the ghost’s haunt meter is filled, they will trigger the final capture event. If successful, the busters will win the day; and while the ghost can ‘down’ a Ghostbuster they will never be able to get them out.

As players progress with their Ghostbuster and their ghost they will level up and be able to customize various things about their experience. The Ghostbusters can upgrade their equipment, various pieces will clearly display its positive or negative effects in comparison to what’s currently equipped. This will allow players to add more range to their PKE meter but it may sacrifice the stun ability, its this kind of flexibility that will allow friends to build teams and strategize together. Also, since players create their own Ghostbusters they will also unlock various outfit pieces, colors and other great items they can use to make their character. Personally, my Ghostbuster looks like he’s going to audition for RUN-DMC right after this next job but in pink. Seriously the game allows you to get creative and fun with your designs, and while the ghost can only be customized in color, players can still put they’re on stamp on their playable characters.

While I did have issues with the game they were few and far between, first off the AI is not the brightest. It’s great that the developers allow for bots to even out teams if needed, these ‘team’ mates will spend more time just running around and calming down scared patrons than anything else. I also had a few times where the game left me in an infinite load screen loop but nothing that a simple restart couldn’t fix.

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is hands down Illfonic’s best game to date and by and large probably the most approachable asymmetrical multiplayer game on the market. Having OG Ghostbusters on board with some new blood is an awesome way to get people into the lore and making it so that player can create their own character was a super smart move as well. I’m excited to see what the team will add into the game, perhaps Dr. Venkman will show up down the line, maybe a playable mini Stay-Puft ghost; whatever it is I am excited to get more. I hope that this game sees a longer lifespan than the developers’ previous games, with all of the polish and the obvious love for the license this is one scare fest that everyone should experience.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Really captures the ‘feel’ of Ghostbusters
  • Great story and use of OG ‘Busters
  • Awesome graphics and classic sound effects
  • A.I. can be real spooky but not in a good way
Written by
Terrence spends his time going where no one has gone before mostly. But when not planning to take over the galaxy, he spends his time raising Chocobo and trying to figure out just how the sarlaac could pull Boba Fett’s ship with its engines firing FULL BLAST into it’s maw with relative ease; yet it struggled with Han Solo who was gripping *checks notes* SAND!