The Game Tutor Grades Ghost 1.0

Firstly let’s get this out of the way Ghost 1.0 is one of the best modern Metroidvanias you can buy and definitely sits alongside Axiom Verge as a standout of the recently quite crowded genre. Unlike Axiom Verge however which follows the formula to the letter Ghost 1.0 finds its own way and throughout the course of the game constantly throws in surprises and breaks conventions that really make it stand out.

The premise of Ghost 1.0 sees 2 hackers hire a mysterious agent (you) in order to infiltrate the Nakamura Space station in order to learn its secrets. Ghost is an agent capable of taking on the form of an electronic ghost and taking over Androids at will allowing you to control your main android body or a number of other androids around the station and it is this mechanic that really shines through as the game’s unique selling point.

Ghost’s main body is controlled in the usual twin stick shooter style and as you progress through the game you can gain upgrades which give you powerups such as double jump, better weapons and drones to help you fight. Gunplay in the game is fluid and works well with both a controller and a keyboard. One of the main recurring themes of the game sees you stuck in alarmed rooms that gradually increase in level and difficulty as the game progresses and lock you in for a period of time and throw enemies, turrets and mines your way. These are also a great way of saving up energy cubes the game’s currency which allow you to buy new weapons, upgrades and one use items.

One of the key things to note is that upon dying (starting again at one of the save points which are storyline written as robot 3D printers) you lose all of the energy cubes you had amounted. When I started the game I hated this but as I progressed I began to appreciate the sense of risk reward with going into a level 8 or 9 alarm room to try and get more cubes when I could potentially lose my whole stash.

The Nakamura space station is broken up into a number of different zones each opened by finding fragments of a key card spread throughout the previous zone. Alongside these key cards is also a skill point that lets you upgrade either your character, tech, alarm room hacking, your ghost form or even the Nakamura Space station itself in some cases making the game even harder or in the case of the game’s survival mode quicker to advance.

The game can be played in 2 ways. Classic is normal Metroidvania rules with aforementioned penalty of losing all you currency when you die and as you advance through the game you get progressively more powerful. Survival plays more like a roguelike and grants you random powerups quickly as you progress but when you die you lose everything. I much preferred the classic mode but for people wanting a roguelike experience then the game offers this way of playing. One thing I will say is that in classic the game actually becomes easier as you play through the game as you become progressively more powerful and the game is of course setup to take into account people playing in survival mode.

There are lots of secrets to be found including some very cool geeky items my personal favourite being an homage to Metal Gear Solid whenever you die. Most rooms also have souls to collect. These are activated and fill the room with glowing orbs that when collected grant an upgrade, power up, item or cubes. Activating these is a whole game in itself and adds a fun puzzle element to the game’s environments. Even after completing the game I wanted to go back and find all of the souls made easier by handy markers of rooms still to be solved on the map (Something Metroid itself sorely needed when it came to unfound items).

Talking about puzzle solving the game’s come android switching mechanic is often used in the games puzzle sections and plays extremely well. Difficulty is pitched about right and I always felt proud of myself when I solved a puzzle. Difficulty wise the game is an odd one. About half way through the game I was about ready to say how the game’s difficulty curve was vertical (I think I had a headline saying Dark Souls the Metroidvania planned) but in reality the difficulty spike in the middle could be solved simply by doing some more exploring getting a few more cubes and getting better guns and tech. Some of the guns are better than other with a few being incredibly powerful such as the shield which is essentially for beating some of the game’s turret sections and the drone which fills the room with laser beams which makes alarm rooms especially in the later sections of the game much easier. Having said that Ghost 1.0 is not an easy game by any stretch of the imagination.

I never expected to be that drawn into the characters but by the end of the story I was very invested in Ghost and her band of hacker companions. All the game’s cut scenes are fantastically voice acted and get across a lot of heart. All of the protagonists are likeable and the game has a wonderful sense of humour that left me wanting more story at the game’s conclusion.

Overall I absolutely loved playing through Ghost 1.0 and cannot recommend it enough and to fans of the genre is a real must buy. Hopefully Ghost 2.0 is the long term plan because the follow up to Unepic is anything but.