Friday, 11 May 2018

GHost94 (PC)

I have to start this review with an admission: I have no idea what the goal of this game is, plus I'm really bad at it, so I didn't get very far in the few hours of it that I played. However, I think it's an interesting enough game to write about and at least tell you what I figured out about it. It's part of a long-running series o;f Japanese indie PC games, that you've probably seen a few of if you pay attention to the trailer compilations that come out before each Comiket.

It's a 3D stealth game that takes place in a massive (well, it feels massive, anyway) post-apocalyptic/dystopian Japanese city, patrolled by ninja-like soldiers and heavily-armed robots. Being stealthy is incredibly important, as if you're spotted, all the enemies in the area will chase you around trying to kill you and you're far from durable. You can find somewhere to hide until the heat dies down, but the best thing to do is to find an exit and leae the area as fast as possible. I can't tell you about any of the plot or anything, so I basically just went exploring as best I could. Occasionally I'd trigger a story event, and one time I found a save/healing room (which was very important, as if you haven't saved and you die, you have to start the game again, with a very long unskippable cutscene you have to sit through every time). There's areas that I think are radioactive, where a geiger counter-esque clicking sound starts, and an increasing counter appears above your head. Different areas have the counter going up at different speeds, and if it reaches 999, you die instantly. Seems like videogame radioactivity to me!

There's a lot that's failry unique about the game, with the most obvious being its look. It looks incredible, with a late-90s inspired combination of 2d sprites walking around low-poly 3D worlds with low resolution pixel art textures. But it's used in a way that wouldn't have been possible on the Playstation or Saturn, creating some gigantic areas, and creating a real sense of scale, as rotting skyscrapers tower above your tiny SD sprite in the outdoors areas, while the indoor areas range from labyrinhtine mazes of corridors and small rooms to huge high-ceilinged hallways and swimming pools. The other big idiosyncracy is the controls: rather than going with the now-standard twin stick controls for 3d action games, GHost94 has its own controls that take a little bit of getting used to. Essentially, your actual movement is restriced to moving left and right on a 2D plane, and jumping. You can still move all over the place though, as you use the shoulder buttons (assumeing you've set up your controls in the layout recommended by the config screen's diagram) to move the camera, and with it the plane on which you move, by ninety degrees. Like I said, it does take some gettig used to, and you are in danger of fumbling under pressure when you've been spotted, but on the other hand, it is nice to play a modern 3D action game that doesn't just use the exact same control scheme as every other game. Plus, there's a first-person view button that's useful not just for spotting eemies you might not have otherwise, but also for just taking in the spectacle of your surroundings.

Now, as I mentioned, I haven't managed to get very far in this game yet, so there's some things I can only half-understand. You can pick up various small objects from the ground, but most of them seem to be useless bits of garbage. There's also money, dropped by enemies, should you be brave enough to try and fight them, and lucky/skilled enough to kill one. I never found a use for the garbage items (that do literally just seem to be bits of litter), nor did I ever reach a shop where money could be spent. Though I assume that weapons are sold there, as you start with a weak knife that can be equipped and unequipped.

I think that's all I can really say about GHost94, to be honest. I find it fascinating and aesthetically beautiful enough to try and stumble my way through. If you've got the patience (or the Japanese literacy) for it, you should give it a try, too. If you do, I'd be glad to hear your findings!

1 comment:

  1. I played the first one (Hack9?) a long time ago, but didn't get far (I don't remember why). It was Cave Story clone-ish like Momodora 1. Gotta check this sequel out later.