SummaryWho are THEY gonna call?
The GoodIn the grand tradition of Peter Molyneaux, we have ‘Ghost Master’. The main idea of the game is quite simple: scare the bejesus out of unsuspecting people in their respective domiciles with your legion of ghosts.
At first you have a meager assortment of ghosts, and you will collect more increasingly powerful ghosts as you advance through the game. The ghosts belong to different classes with their own unique aspects. For example, Elemental ghosts can manipulate nature, Vapor ghosts influence emotions, Horror ghosts shock mortals with grotesque visions, etc. Within the classes, each ghost has its own individual power. The power is determined by their “fetter”, aka a tangible object or place where a ghost can be bound, such television sets, bedrooms, or thoroughfares. If you’ve ever seen the ‘Ghostbusters’ films, you’ll know all of this ahead of time.
The mechanics of the missions are very similar to games such ‘Dungeon Keeper’ or ‘Black & White’. The interface itself even reminds me of the former. It may seem a bit clunky at first glance, but if you’ve played the aforementioned games, you’ll have no difficulty.
After selecting a mission from a world map, much like ‘Dungeon Keeper’, you’ll be taken to a screen to select the ghosts you want to use for the mission, or the game can choose for you. You are administered a supply of ectoplasm, which you mustn’t waste, or the mission will fail. Once inside the mission, you must carefully place each ghost at their respective fetter in order to make everyone pee themselves with fright. As the ghosts scare the mortals, your supply of ectoplasm will increase. Of course, the opposite will occur if you’re not scaring anyone.
This game is all about power and superiority, and I often found myself laughing maniacally as the pathetic mortals ran from the locale screaming and hands flailing. The manners in which one can frighten people are nearly endless as I attempted to find more effective placement methods for my haunts. Brilliant!
In addition, many of the missions are tributes (or parodies) of famous horror films; i.e. "The Calamityville Horror".
The BadThe main issue with many god games is that the mission objectives often remain the same throughout the entire game, and ‘Ghost Master’ is not immune to this. “Scare the crap out of everyone” is certainly a fun objective, but it’s the only one, and it can definitely cause boredom after a time.
The game’s camera is among the worst I’ve ever seen in this genre. Rather than following a simple-yet-effective idea with the camera angles a la ‘Dungeon Keeper’, the game gives you too many viewing options, and you might find yourself struggling with finding a comfortable viewpoint rather than having fun. I myself found the “straight down” view to be the best.
Also, if you’re expecting an undemanding type of game, you’re gravely mistaken. Don’t let the cartoonish aura fool you; this is most definitely a game of trial and error. You may have several goes at a mission before finding the combination of ghosts that works best for you.
The Bottom LineThis is a very enjoyable and imaginative game that puts refreshing spin on the god game genre. If you are a fan of any of Peter Molyneaux’s work, or even Will Wright (creator of Sim City and The Sims), you will positively adore this game. Just don’t expect a plug-and-play gaming experience.