Written by Maurice Verschuur
October 20, 2020 – You won’t see me play a lot of horror games because, honestly, I’m to scared. The last horror game was the remake of Resident Evil 2 and with every sound I was constantly checking my back in real life. So yeah, horror is not my cup of tea. But there came along Phasmophobia. An online co-op horror game (also available in VR), which meant I could play it with friends and do not have to be scared alone. So I messaged my friend and Twitch streamer IssyTheOne and he was in for some ghost hunting on his channel and a few nights of hunting were set.
In Phasmophobia you and your team investigate ghost sightings. From your headquarters, nothing more then a garage, you travel to different locations where ghost have been spotted. At the location you start from the back of your truck which is filled with equipment to track down ghosts. At the beginning you only have some basic gadgets like a flashlight, an EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) reader to detect a ghost presence, UV light to search for handprints, and some other handy tools. As you progress in the game and succeed in identifying ghosts you get paid and will be able to afford more equipement like sensors, a temperature meter etc.
Although you can play Phasmophobia alone, the game really shines in co-op. So my friend and I started of from the back of our truck checking our objectives and establishing who carries what tools, since you can only carry three items per person. This led to the first challenge since there is only one flashlight at the beginning and we soon found out that you really can’t see anything without a light. The game is really, really dark. We could turn on all the lights inside the location, an old wooden cabin, but ghosts tend to appear only when the lights are out. So we decided to stick really close to each other, which is easier said then done in pitch black darkness.
Once we sad foot into the cabin a timer started counting down from five minutes. Within this timeframe you have the freedom to roam around and explore while the ghost doesn’t harm you. After that it’s pretty much hunting season for the ghost, if you trigger him and that’s quit essential. To achieve this you can use your microphone. Saying his name or things like “give us a sign” or “are you hostile” can lead to the ghost talking back to you, or worse: he gets angry and will come for you. But these are also moments you can for example take a picture of him while he chase you. So it depends on the objective how far you have to go to trigger the ghost.
Take one for the team
The early access, as we played it, had a few different locations to investigate ghost sightings. They differ in size where a suburban house is probably one of the smallest. My friend and I decide to had for the suburbs, checking out the objectives and divide the tools in the back of the truck and are started walking towards the front door of the house. After a while using the gadgets figuring out in what room the ghost is we almost give up. But I decide to check out a bedroom at the front of the house once again. Suddenly I see myself breathing cold ear, indicating the temperature is freezing in the room. I call my friend and we try to trigger the ghost by saying his name, and “give us a sign”. Suddenly the radio next to the bed turns on and we jump up! But nothing else happens. I turn off the radio and we try to speak with the ghost again to trigger it… not the best idea.
We hear a loud and increasing heartbeat sound coming closer and closer. We panic and run to the front door of the house, but the door is locked! My friend has the key but somehow can’t unlock the door. The ghost has locked it?! While I’m standing behind my friend somewhat nervous telling him open the door, the ghost is on to me, grabs me by the face and kills me while my friend is takes a picture of this horrifying scene. At that point the locked door pops open and my friend can get away safely… with a picture of me being killed. Although I was dead. These terrifying and stressful moments, are the one which really makes this game so fun to play in co-op.
Getting trapped and hunted by a ghost
Phasmophobia is on Steam in Early Access and this is noticeable. Encountering bugs and clitches are something you have to deal with. Hiding in a closet to escape a ghost for example has led to situations where we got stuck. Meaning we had to leave the session and restart. These are easy identifiable errors, but since this is a game in development there are also some other improvements I hope the developers will tackle. For example some of the animations are raw or maybe not even implemented. When you are killed by a ghost you get an animation which is creepy and well done, but when you see your friend being killed it looks weird and unfinished.
Phasmophobia is since 18 September 2020 in Early Access on Steam. The full game will be available somewhere in 2021 “However this may change depending on features added and how the game will progress through early access”, according to developer Kinetic Games. Currently there are 22 different pieces of equipment and 7 maps to choose from as well as daily challenges. The developer about the full game: “We plan to add a lot more content to the game. This includes more equipment, maps, ghosts and any other content we get suggested from community feedback.”