Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.I’ve always dreamed of a multiplayer game set in the unflinchingly absurd universe of Ghostbusters, ever since I was a child and raced to the VHS rewinder to wait for another show. It’s hard to imagine a world riper for an asymmetrical multiplayer game in which a team of ghost cops faces off against a vengeful wraith, whether it’s the over-the-top spectral criminals or the ridiculous ghost-sucking vacuums carried by phantom-catching vigilantes dressed as janitors. Ghostbusters, however, Spirits Unleashed attempt to fill this void is only a limited success because it frequently nails the ghost-hunting fantasy, but it gets stuck in the thick slime of balancing issues, questionable level design, a story that barely qualifies as one, and most importantly, a severe lack of content. Spirits Unleashed attempt to fill this void is only a limited success. I had a lot of really funny and good times running around as a ghost and messing around with my annoying captors. Hunting down scary enemies with friends can be a lot of fun, but after a few hours, I had seen everything and was ready to put this short excursion on the shelf next to my prized Ghostbusters VHS.

Ghostbusters: On one of five maps, Spirits Unleashed pits a team of four Ghostbusters against a single slimy apparition in straightforward but generally enjoyable matches. While the Ghostbusters work to locate and capture the slippery abomination before it can carry out its unfinished business, the ghost’s objective is to terrorize dimwitted NPCs and spook areas of the map until it is too spooky for human use. You can fly, pass through walls, haunt or possess world objects, cover things in slime, and use a variety of interesting abilities that are unique to the specter you chose before the match. These abilities include possessing NPCs and summoning a massive slime tornado that causes great harm to humans. Thanks to this collection of powerful abilities, you have a huge advantage over your weak, non-flying pursuers, who are limited by their disgusting, corporeal forms. You are given ghost-busting tools, such as the particle thrower, proton pack, P.K.E. meter, and ghost trap, and you must work together to capture a ghost. The only drawback is that there are four of you, but even that doesn’t always make a big difference.

This is because, at least for the time being, Spirits Unleashed needs to be rebalanced, as the requirement for a human victory is extremely high and only occurred in maybe one out of every ten matches I played over the course of 15 hours. First, the Ghostbusters have to do a lot to win because catching their creepy enemy immediately causes the ghost to respawn. Instead, the jumpsuit-clad crusaders must locate, destroy, and capture three artifacts that act as resurrecting Horcruxes before claiming victory; everything the phantom necessities to do is run out the approximately 10-minute clock. Since the ghost sacrifices, one of their artifacts with each respawns, the ghost hunters could, of course, just try to capture their quarry four times; however, doing so can be quite challenging when confronted with a wraith with even a moderate level of skill.

With their extensive arsenal of tricks, a ghost simply has too many ways to win, many of which feel cheap. For instance, if the Ghostbusters find one of your antiquities and begin harming it, you can simply get it, fly away, and conceal it elsewhere before they can get done with the task, which completely mends the ancient rarity and hampers the human group immensely as they begin the chase all once more. Beyond that, the majority of ghosts can quickly escape from particle thrower streams, move through walls, or possess an object before fleeing, and most importantly: They have wings. The ghost can quickly float away to a higher floor, whereas Ghostbusters must contend with stairs.

I was able to win nearly every match as a ghost, with the few exceptions of trying out a new character or playing foolishly for fun. I could only win as a Ghostbuster if the ghost player appeared to have no idea how to play or if I was in a full squad with friends who communicated and worked together to win by a single point. Despite all players being of equal skill, it’s hard to imagine the Ghostbusters consistently winning with so many advantages in their favor.

This is especially true in levels with tall layouts, where the ghost can make the most of its flight. For instance, the prison level has very high ceilings, so if nothing else works, the ghost can just float high in the sky, whereas Ghostbusters on the ground have very little chance of catching it. To the dismay of the entire party, I once had a match in which the ghost simply remained up there and waited for the match to end. There may be a lot of stairs or narrow hallways on other maps that make it hard for people to get around. On the plus side, at least each of the five maps is different and has a lot of personalities. When the ghost takes possession of an item, it has a unique, often funny “walking” animation.

However, this does not imply that occasionally irritating matches are not enjoyable. Pursuing ridiculous repulsions with companions requires the procedure, collaboration, and organizing loadouts, and accomplishing that intriguing triumph in the wake of assembling the ideal snare to trap the phantom is a second that requests to be deified with a whirlwind of celebratory fist pumps. Even though it’s not always easy to win as a ghost, it’s always funny, and I took pride in coming up with as many inventive ways as I could to confuse my pursuers. I even coordinated a genuine LAN party in 2022 (not that Spirits Released has real LAN support) so I could have every one of the five players under one rooftop, which was a humorous and critical experience that I’ll not have before long neglected. There is a cool game here, but it is obscured by unsightly flaws.

The most significant issue only surfaced after about a dozen or so hours of play, when I suddenly ran out of things to do and lost interest. There isn’t a lot of meat in Spirit Unleashed, just like there isn’t much meat in the slime-spitting ghosts you play and hunt. You’ll run out of things very quickly because there are only five maps, a single game mode, and a story made up of boring cutscenes sandwiched between multiplayer matches. You will indeed continue to unlock new ghosts to play as well as cosmetics, tools, and other useful upgrades for your Ghostbusters. However, all of this just takes you back to the same old multiplayer mode, where you probably won’t get enough of it. In future updates, hopefully, more content, particularly game modes, will be added; however, for the time being, it only has a single note.

The Verdict

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is a fun asymmetrical multiplayer game with balance issues and map worries that could probably be fixed, but it badly needs more content to keep my interest. I certainly had some memorable experiences playing the devilish trickster as a ghost or signing a warrant to arrest a specter as a Ghostbuster. In some of these experiences, I was able to briefly fulfill my childhood dream of hunting meddlesome shades. IllFonic, the game’s developer, clearly understood the task at hand; however, I do wish they had provided me with more to ponder and perhaps spent a little more time fleshing out aspects like the virtually nonexistent story or some additional game modes to mix up that otherworldly hunt.


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