There are thousands of video games out there, but what’s worth playing? Today let’s talk about:
Phasmophobia is a first person ghost hunting / investigation game based off of every single one of those ghost hunting shows. Except unlike in those shows, there actually is a ghost, not a member of the production team knocking over a lamp off camera or turning the lights on and off from the other room. Actually, that WOULD be kind of a fun game. No, there is a ghost in there, and it is your job to go into houses, schools, abandoned prisons, asylums, and even a campground with a team of between 1 and 4 people to discover what kind of ghost it is.
You pick a place to investigate, pick your items you want to take along with you, and get investigating. But what’s kind of fun about this game is sort of the same thing I like about Friday the 13th is that it is left up to you, the player, to figure it out.
The gameplay is a bit slow at first. On the easy levels you go into a house, and it seems fine; a door might creak open here and there. Honestly, my first experience was one I heard from a lot of people, it’s boring and there is no music. But as you wander around in the house looking for light switches and being unsure of what to do, the boredom is replaced with creeping dread. Hey, was that framed picture always on the floor? Is that a human spine on that pile of laundry? The heck is going on?
Then the lights go out, or the bulbs themselves explode (something I learned playing the recent patch for this game while prepping this article) and you find yourself in the dark with the sound of footsteps or raspy breathing. When it is dark in this game it is REALLY dark; you stumble around in the pitch black until you turn your flickering flashlight on only to find this thing crawling around on the ground and you’re choked to death by a set of slimy hands.
That’s Phasmophobia. But once you play a few rounds (after getting a new pair of pants) you begin to learn that you are not a ghostbuster, you’re more of a detective. Your job is to use the tools to find out what kind of ghost this is so others can come back and exercise it later. Each ghost leaves different kinds of evidence, and you’ll discover some make rooms cold, or throw several objects at once, or put ghostwriting in a book, or leave UV fingerprints all over the doors and windows. Each ghost has ONLY 3 pieces of evidence, and you use your detective skills to figure out what the ghost is, narrowing the field down until you only have 1 or 2 ghosts to choose from. It’s like the horror version of Guess Who.
Yeah, the problem is that the ghost isn’t super into you being there, so it will kill you if you don’t figure this puzzle out quickly because when you go into the house, you have about 5 minutes until it will start to hunt you. It helps to communicate as a team with others so you can search the area quicker, but the ghost can also hear you and isn’t into you talking, especially if you say its name. You do contracts; tasks that get you money, and before long you can afford better ghost gear to take on larger maps and more aggressive specters.
You figure out that the ghost likes specific rooms and that helps narrow your search quite a bit, you learn what questions to ask the chatty ghosts (like “where are you”) and keep a lookout for things like the fog from your breath (where it is cold, that’s usually where a ghost is) and learn to take photos of bones before picking them up.
Overall, this is the sort of game that is fun with friends, is easy to practice by trial and error, and is genuinely spooky! What’s also cool is that Kinetic Games are constantly making updates, tweaks, changes, adding ghosts, making new equipment, updating graphics (they have updated those a LOT over the last year … wow by the way) and making the game more fun and more sinister.
1: There is a key for getting into the buildings. I have seen so many players never even get into a building because the door is locked. The key for any investigation is on the desk in the van. To start and finish the game is all about clicking and interacting with the blue number pad in the van; it’s by the door.
2: You have a video camera with night vision in your starting inventory. On any level other than amateur, this is mandatory as it has night vision; this is a dark game, and the buildings start with the fuse box off so none of the lights work on harder difficulty settings.
3: Speaking of the night vision camera, the timer for the ghost does not start until you enter the location. You can look through the windows to search for spirit orbs with the camera without starting the ghost timer. This is helpful in detecting the ghost room early, giving you a huge advantage. Ghost orbs look like moths, and they flit around near the ceiling. Whatever room those are happening in is the ghost room and a fair number of ghosts leave spirit orbs.
4: You are not here to fight ghosts, so don’t bother. You don’t really have a way to defend yourself from ghosts either. You can pour salt on the ground, try to use smudge sticks, or a crucifix to ward off the ghost, but those will not get rid of it. Your best bet is to hide and hope it goes away. Thankfully, most of the time the ghosts aren’t great at hunting, so crouching in a closet or behind furniture helps.
5: There is a new feature that allows you to cross off stuff the ghost does NOT do. If you don’t see spirit orbs and the ghost won’t talk to you on the spirit box, you can click those in your journal to cross them off your list, narrowing the list of spooky suspects even more.
6: Often the ghosts will turn lights out and cut the power. You have stuff that lights up, so you might want to drop a flashlight by the door just so you can find your away out.
7: Each map contains exactly ONE ghost.
8: Customize your key settings. When the ghost is hunting you in the dark, you don’t want to be thinking about what buttons do what; you want your actions to be in a sort of “don’t think about it” category. All of mine are on a first letter system. F for flashlight. D for drop. I for inventory. Keep it simple so you aren’t fumbling in critical moments of heightened stress.
1: While each level has a “maze like” quality to it, most levels have a sort of “downward” feeling to them, so try to go downhill. If you see zombies just standing around, then that’s the way to go. Your characters will also say things like “just over this dumpster” so you get an idea of where to go so you don’t get too lost.
2: Especially in multiplayer, do NOT wander off as the special infected, once they pin you or trap you, will kill a player unless someone else helps them. You can’t escape from most special infected once they grab you.
3: There is a shove button, it shoves zombies back. Use that. Zombies can’t hurt you if they are not close to you.
4: If you point your flashlight at the witch zombie, she’ll rush you and knock you on your butt in one shot. You can sneak by her if you are quiet, and you turn your flashlight off.
5: Zombies react to loud noises. Oddly, not gunfire, but they hate car alarms, church bells, and rock concerts. This causes events where a BUNCH of common zombies will show up, try to just hold out. The tempo of the game will ease up after those are over, but don’t dawdle too much. I find myself saying this phrase a lot in this game, “I don’t care what you’re going to do, just do it fast.”