It’s that time of the year again, where people go on a rampage looking for all the scary entertainment they can handle. If you’re one of the thrill-seekers, well, then I have just the treat for you. On September 18th, 2020; a UK-based studio released an utterly terrifying ghost hunting game named Phasmophobia. Phasmophobia, which literally means ‘fear of ghosts’, pits you and up to three of your friends against a haunted house/school/asylum. Your job is to get in, collect evidence of paranormal activity, determine what kind of ghost is haunting the premises, and get out with your life (and hopefully your sanity). Sound good? That’s just the tip of a very, very scary iceberg.
Phasmophobia sports a feature many horror games lack, cooperation. Hunting down malevolent spirits is no job for any one man/woman, so the game allows you to connect with three of your friends and hunt together. There are plenty of jobs to tackle as well, making sure there is never a slow moment in-game. Ranging from setting up and watching camera feeds, taking temperatures of the rooms, and actually attempting to get a picture of the spectre itself; everyone will have to stay busy in order to make sure you can get out of there as quickly as possible.
Let’s talk about the star of the show, the ghosts. Phasmophobia displays twelve unique ghosts for you to handle, each with their own quirk. You can get a shy Shade, the aggressive Demon, or the dark-loving Mare, or any of the other ghosts available. Every ghost can and will be aggressive in the right circumstance, like the Oni gets angry when there are lots of people grouped up together. Other ghosts affect your sanity, the precious meter that deters ghosts from attacking you. The Yurei drops your sanity severely when you look at it, and the Phantom won’t leave until you take a picture of it. The greatest part of all this is, the game is procedurally generated, meaning that every game will be different. One game you could play with a Mare in the asylum, and the next a Jinn in the high school.
Alright, we’ve talked about the habitants of the haunted house, now let’s talk about how to beat it. While you and your team are in the house, you should be collecting evidence by using the tools bought before the actual hunt begins. Bring a thermometer to look for freezing temperatures, a journal for ghost writing, or a EMF meter to measure EMF levels. Let’s say you and your team find a room with freezing temperatures, ghost fingerprints (found with the UV light), and an EMF reading of 5. You would record the evidence in your journal, and the game will automatically narrow down the possible ghost type, in this case to a Banshee. You would continue to record that in your journal, then pack up and leave. If your team starts dying before you pick up all of the evidence you need, you can leave whenever you need and make a guess based on what you have.
You get a score at the end of the round, counted as cash earned for the job. You get money for every correct piece of evidence identified, guessing the correct ghost type, taking photo evidence of the ghost or other evidence items, picking up bones hidden in the map, or completing optional objectives. Those optional objectives range from checking the sinks for dirty water to banishing the ghost with a smudge stick. You can spend the cash after the match on more equipment or their upgrade versions.
Now that I’ve explained the game to you, I’ll give you my honest opinion. I adore this game for its complexity and variability. The apprehension and build-up to the ghost actually appearing is incredibly well done, and the climax of the ghost attacking and you trying to escape makes the terror real. There are lots of details I have left out of this article, and that’s to make it better for you if you so happen to pick up this game. Phasmophobia is on Steam for $13.99 and it supports VR (if you’re looking to poop your pants in fear).