I’m not a fan of horror games normally, but Phasmophobia left my friends and I hyped on adrenaline for hours. This creepy online co-op game lets you and three other companions hunt some ghosts. I first heard about this psychological horror through Twitch and YouTube, the game receiving an overwhelming amount of praise, having possessed all PC players. While the graphics are nothing spectacular, the game is simply brilliant just because it scares the hell out of you. It gets right into your head.
So, what’s the objective? Identify the ghost that occupies your current location and don’t get caught. Your job is simple really. You play as one of the four ghost hunters available, gather all pieces of evidence and complete your given tasks. The game is in fact playable for just one person, although I will say it won’t reach its full potential if you decide to embark on this journey alone. Though this is a horror game, it’s hilarious when you play with friends. That, and I’m personally incapable of playing this game alone. Yes, it’s that terrifying.
Phasmophobia is less reliant on jump-scares and more on the terror of entering a dark and derelict location that now homes an ominous spirit. But what sold me was the new spectacle of proximity chat: which is why I insist you play with your pals. It puts you and your party right in the heart of the game. Say, for instance, you’ve decided to hunt in the basement and your adjoining teammate is still upstairs, the voices will travel as if you really were a floor apart. It makes it all the more comical to hear the distant screams of your teammates trying to outrun the spirit chasing them around the living room.
Both the location and the ghost can vary. You can go hunting in an abandoned farmhouse, a roadside house or if you get to a high enough level, a deserted high school. The most recent update even added a prison to those ghost hunting experts out there. Now that map is never-ending and recommended to a party of four. You’ll find that the bigger the buildings, the further away the exit is. This is something to keep in mind when five minutes after your arrival, the ghost will start hunting you. Then you’ll wish that the exit wasn’t two floors below you.
If the spirit has chosen you as a victim, you’ll know by the flickering of lights and various sounds. If you hear your own heartbeat or running footsteps, you need to hide quickly. Although, the avatars slow speed will put you at a disadvantage. But you could say the inability to run away makes it all the more terrifying when the ghost is chasing you. But be wary, even if you’ve managed to find a safe spot to hide, the ghost can still hear you. The voice recognition is a key component to making this game so immersive. Headphones are definitely recommended too.
Once you’ve got the controls down and got the hang of the game’s mechanics, you can then get right into the detective work. Each ghost provides you with a unique combination of three pieces of evidence to collect. For example, a Demon will give you freezing temperatures and even write some threatening messages in a diary for you. You can also speak to this entity through the spirit box, asking specifically where it is or who they are. While the responses are limited and something the game developer can work on, the effect is still unsettling enough to keep your back up. It’s not the most calming thing when the receiver recites the words ‘die’ or ‘behind you’.
As for the levelling up system is based on experience. The more XP a player gains, the larger to maps become. That being said, while they do get scarier, they don’t necessarily get harder which allows new players and friends to play with their more experienced pals. To successfully gain XP you must identify all three pieces of evidence and choose the correct spirit. You also earn money to which you can use to purchase new ghost hunting tools. It’s always amusing to just give your friend the crucifix, send them right into the crossfire and hope for the best. You can always watch their backs from cams if you’re feeling nice enough.
But what happens if the spirit catches you? Is the game over for everyone? If the spirit does indeed manage to catch you, your teammates can continue on without you. Once you’ve managed to ease your pounding heart, you can now venture the map as a spirit. You can see and hear your friends, as well as the spirit that caught you. However, while this point of view is rather fascinating after the first few times, eventually you become more cautious about getting caught because of how tedious this part is. It is fun to be able to see the spirit that continues to pursue your friends, but your own actions are very limited and the most you can is pick up miscellaneous objects to throw around. With zero effect that is. Plus, if your team manage to succeed without you, they will be the ones to gain the XP and cash, not you. So, try not to die.
In addition to this, the only real issue I had with the game was its compatibility with certain devices. Phasmophobia is a Stream-based game and only accessible via this on PC. It would certainly be interesting to have this game be released on devices such as Xbox and PlayStation which also increases the number of people you can play with. But this was pretty much the only issue I had with the game.
While some may argue the objective is rather basic, Phasmophobia is genius because of its ploy of subtly. Your back is constantly up, and the growing tension is almost unbearable. That and it is one of my all-time favourite games to play with friends because of the sheer hilarity. However, if you weren’t really feeling up to it, you can always watch various streamers play the game for themselves. This was a much-loved pastime of mine for weeks when I wasn’t actually playing the game. But I would definitely recommend you try this game at least once.