Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed dropped last month, which is exciting for gamers and Ghostbusters fans alike. An online multiplayer video game that allows players to take on the role of a Ghostbuster or a ghost is an idea that can offer up a lot of fun, and now it’s a reality. Does the game provide the experience Ghostbusters fans have been craving, or does it miss the mark? Let’s investigate every spooky clue to find out.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed truly recreates the experience of being a Ghostbuster on an assignment. From trapping ghosts and getting covered in slime to even ensuring civilians that everything is okay, each match as a Ghostbuster feels genuine to how things played out during the movies. It’s overall an accurate portrayal for anyone looking for that authentic Ghostbuster experience.
The character customization is quite robust. For each player’s Ghostbuster, they can create a character of just about any body type and has quite a lot of options for their attire. There’s a wide variety of glasses, boots, jumpsuits, hairstyles, hats, and more to make whatever or whoever you want. There’s plenty of colors for each item as well. If you want to make yourself as a Ghostbuster, you can. If you’re someone who would rather play as Waluigi, that’s also doable. Most customization items are unlockable, so it feels like you’re always working toward something as you play, which can be super rewarding.
The ghosts are also customizable, but just with their color schemes (which are also unlockable). This is for good reason though. For one, as you play as the ghost during matches, different types of ghosts that each play differently from each other are unlocked. Every ghost, which has unique abilities, has their own designs, so it wouldn’t make much sense to change how they look. It would just confuse the players when figuring out what they’re up against. That being said, the ghost designs are all absolutely incredible. Outside of Slimer (of course), every other ghost is original to the game, but they all feel like they fit into the franchise perfectly. They’re designs are all wacky and threatening at the same time. It’s like they’re a love letter to every version of Ghostbusters, including The Real Ghostbusters cartoon and the IDA comic book series. Their appearance also matches their abilities quite nicely, like the electric-powered ghost looking like someone in an electric chair or a ghost with a gigantic mouth having screaming powers, which is a nice touch.
Unlike most other online games, Spirits Unleashed offers a full single player-esque story that plays out between online matches. Not only is this a unique feature for a multiplayer-only game, but it’s also an entertaining and well-written story. It’s a welcome addition to the Ghostbusters lore and is filled with twists and turns as well as witty humor. Adding to the story, which picks up after the events of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, features the return of Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson as Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore. Their inclusion furthers how much this game feels like a celebration of the franchise.
Another unique feature for the online play is that there are collectibles to be found during each match that only affect your own personal progression. This means that on top of catching the ghost, there are other things to keep an eye out for. One collectible is the “spores, molds, and fungus” like Egon used to collect. If you collect enough of them, you get a really cool hat. The other more interesting collectible is newspaper clippings for stories about each of the locations that are used as playable maps. As you collect more of these, you find out more about the spooky backstory of each place. These collectibles further add to the sense of progression the game offers.
The gameplay of each match is suspenseful as Ghostbusters race to eliminate Rifts and bust the ghost before the ghost completely haunts the location. The Ghostbusters and the ghosts may control differently, but the controls for each do feel really good. There are gadgets and abilities that spice up the gameplay a lot, too. The Ghostbusters being able to use grappling hooks and P.K.E. meters that can stun ghosts add a lot of versatility to what they’re able to do during each match. With each ghost using their own abilities, every player can play their own preferred way.
While the gameplay is incredibly fun and each map is well-designed, there does need to be more maps and game modes. We know that there are new cosmetics on the way, and likely more maps (there are currently only five), but there’s been nothing regarding new game modes to shake things up. The one game mode currently in Spirits Unleashed is phenomenal, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some folks grow a little tired of the same type of game every time. Most modern multiplayer games have at least two or three game modes. The developer, Illfonic, could very well be working on more, but there’s a danger of losing a player base before anything actually comes of it.
The game’s story is very good, especially given that they didn’t need to include it at all. However, it’s way too short, and it ends abruptly. Just when you think there’s more interesting tidbits of plot on the horizon, the story comes to a sudden close. If it were longer, that would add to the initiative for players’ desire to progress.
There’s a bit of a balancing issue between the Ghostbusters and the ghosts. Assuming you’re in a match with only players who know what they’re doing, the team of Ghostbusters almost always have the upper hand. Not only do they outnumber the ghost four to one, but they’re fully equipped with gadgets to find out exactly where the ghost is, slow them down, stun them, chase them, and calm civilians the ghost has spooked. The stun from the P.K.E. meter blast is a little too good, making it nearly impossible for the ghost to escape. If all four Ghostbusters are taking on the ghost at the same time, then the ghost is almost certainly captured. Sure, the ghost gets fancy abilities to fight back, but they all have much lengthier cooldowns than anything the Ghostbusters have. Winning as a ghost is certainly doable, but it’s noticeably more difficult.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed allows gamers to learn what it feels like to be a Ghostbuster while taking on spooky specters, along with scaring the pants off of folks as a ghost. It offers fairly unique gameplay, outstanding character customizability, a fun story, and an overall exciting time. It definitely could use some tweaks and rebalancing, as well as some additional content, but those are things that could easily be fixed or added with time. If Illfonic chooses to let everything stay as is, then there’s certainly some missed opportunities with what the game could be.