Developed and Published By: IllFonic Category: Action, First-Person Shooter Release Date: 10.19.23 Price: $19.99 Updated On: 11.20.23 *Game Download Code graciously provided for the purpose of review.
I haven’t always been a fan of the Ghostbusters franchise as someone who hadn’t really started watching older movies until I was already in my twenties. When the 2016 reboot came out that was the one that I related to the most simply because I still barely had any experience with the movies at the time. By 2021 I was a decent fan and being able to see Afterlife at New York Comic Con with some of the cast and crew turned me into a bigger fan.
I wanted more so I checked out the game adaptation of the reboot and a few of the other games but I was pretty disappointed. When Spirits Unleashed was first released I didn’t bother playing it because my computer wouldn’t have been able to run it and I rarely play games on my PS4. But I watched a lot of gameplay videos of YouTubers playing with other YouTubers and I thought it was a really cool concept. It made me think of games like Dead By Daylight or Phasmophobia with a fun Ghostbusters twist.
When the game dropped on the Switch, I decided to try it out and I ended up being really impressed because it was better than I thought it would be. All the videos that I saw were specifically in-game footage of multiplayer matches. So until I played the game for myself, I never new that there was a cool single-player mode with story and good voice acting or a robust customization system.
The main gameplay loop of Spirits Unleashed is ghost hunts. A location is haunted and you can either play as a Ghostbusters or the ghost during a match, which have very different playstyles. As a Ghostbusters, your goal is to obviously bust the ghost. You explore the location until you find the ghost and tether them. Before tethering them, you can deploy a trap so that when the ghost is tethered, you can trap them. You also have to calm down civilians and destroy rifts that allow the ghost to respawn.
As the ghost, you simply have to haunt the area. You can possess items so that they move on their own and you have a variety of abilities to either slow down the ghostbusters or scare away civilians. Everything you do increases the haunt meter and when it reaches 100% you win. But if the ghost gets trapped and there are no more rifts, the ghost wins. This can be a lot of fun with friends or in random lobbies and you have the option to play offline with bots as well.
Every match that you play whether offline or with other people will get you experience points and increase your level. As your level increases you get a lot of perks such as more customization options, more story-related stuff, and access to different ghosts. With the single-player story, you play as a new recruit and this storyline canonically takes place after the events of Ghostbusters: Afterlife with Ray and Winston bringing the Ghostbusters back officially. It’s a completely original story and it will definitely interest those who have been fans, especially with the actors for Ray and Winston returning.
The game doesn’t always look the best with a few occasional rough textures and there may be some missed frames or weird animations during the in-game cutscenes. But the overall look is able to match the Ghostbusters charm and style, and many of the ghosts look great. There’s also a decent amount of detail in all the objects that can be possessed by ghosts as they are not textures built into the environment.
Spirits Unleashed also does a very good job with its sound design. The actors who play Ray and Winston in the movies return and there are other characters introduced throughout the game that are fully voiced during cutscenes or story moments. This is a really nice touch and the developers also did a great job with the music and the simple ambience of each haunted location.
Out of all the ways to play Spirits Unleashed, the Switch port might be the best way to play. For starters, cross-play makes it incredibly easy to play with people on other devices so you don’t have to wait long to join a random game or play with friends. If there was no cross-play, it’s possible that the online functionality for the Switch version might not have lasted long. However, upon release cross-play had not yet been opened.
UPDATE: On Nov. 20, IllFonic released patch 1.7.1. This patch featured dozens of small fixes and updates but the main draw is that cross-play has now been made available to that you can finally play with gamers on other consoles.
On top of that, the Switch port also comes with all the DLC that was previously released. This includes additional story and locations. Being able to get the base game with all the DLC attached for only $19.99 is a steal.
If you’re a fan of the Ghostbusters franchise or you like this style of gameplay similar to Phasmophobia, Dead By Daylight, or Friday the 13th: The Game, then Spirits Unleashed will be the game for you. If you play exclusively offline with bots, then there won’t be much outside of the story but it will still be a great experience with lots of content. If you play with friends or in online lobbies, there’s enough to last you hundreds of matches.