Tested on: PC
Ghost 1.0 – Review
Ever wondered what it might be like in the near future if there was advanced artificial intelligence available to everyone? The world would probably look quite different as we all know it. Today, technology is already pretty advanced. The basics for artificial intelligence have been established and without a doubt, technology is already a few steps ahead of what we actually know. It’s a science fiction setting that has been used a lot by authors, movie producers and game developers. Titles such as Deux Ex, Ghost in the Shell, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ex Machina, Blade Runner… might all ring a bell with most fans of science fiction. Ghost 1.0 is one such a science fiction game that takes us to the near future where a technologically advanced society is transpiring around artificial intelligence and has become a part of our daily lives. Curious about the setting, we’ve taken a closer look to Ghost 1.0.
The game takes place in some sort of cyberpunk near future where technology has advanced dramatically. You’re playing the role of Ghost, a special cyber-mercenary, being hired by two super hackers, Jacker and Boogan, to infiltrate the Nakamura Space station. This station is part of a shady and powerful company called the Nakamura Corporation who’s market leader when it comes down to artificial intelligence. They’ve recently introduced their newest product called ‘Naka’, a state of the art high-tech A.I. servant. The source code and blueprints is top-secret and well hidden, which is why Jacker and Boogan hired Ghost to explore the space station in search for these items.
The storytelling is a rather simplistic and straightforward without any mind twisting plot twists but it isn’t bothering at all. The story doesn’t offer tons of information at the start but as the story unfolds over time, your tasks and mission become clearer. The story itself is accompanied by fun and amusing cutscenes and dialogues which is one the strong points in Ghost 1.0. Especially the dialogues between Ghost and other non-playable characters really add a lot of character to the game and the overall experience. And if you restart from a certain point in the game after a long pause, you’ll be presented with ‘last time in Ghost’ story recap through use of pictures and cutscenes to the point you’ve started.Graphics
For a 2D metroidvania side-scrolling action-adventure, Ghost 1.0 looks gorgeous. Everything from character models, environments and cutscenes, although mostly hand drawn in an anime-esque style really looks well-built and detailed. It may have received a modern touch, it still feels like a nostalgic ride through memory lane, playing the old school 2D side-scrolling platforming. The only minor thing was that certain type of enemies, although most of them are robots, look exactly the same, even with another color scheme. As for the multitude of rooms and platforms, they’ve added enough variation and distinctive differences to give each room its unique look and experience.
The main soundtrack consists mostly of a variation of electronic music and tunes trying to create a cyberpunk/futuristic vibe that fits the setting of the game nicely. Every zone or section of rooms has its own soundtrack so it will never grow bored and is really great to listen to. Another strong asset of this game is its voice work. They’ve done a really nice job with the voice acting and is accompanied with humorous and engaging written dialogues that deliver tons of fun and hilarious moments when the protagonists throw some puns around which lighten the mood during some intense combat sequences or even make slight references to other well-known movies and games. The actors really did a stellar job in creating their own individual characters and adding to the polished feel of the game.Gameplay
Ghost 1.0 is a 2D side-scrolling action-adventure taking place in the future, having drawn its ideas from games like Metroid and Megaman. At the very start of the game you’re presented with two choices of game mode. Either the classic or the survival mode. Classic mode enables you to enjoy the game in normal circumstances as for example, when you die, you won’t lose all your items, weapons and energy cubes. While in Survival mode, it adds an extra layer of difficulty to the game so when you die, you’ll have to start over at the last checkpoint with your starter weapon and lose all your other items. This way it gives the game a bit of a rogue-like feel. Don’t confuse this with the main difficulty setting, as you can still choose between the four difficulties at the start of the game. Alas even on lower difficulty settings, the game increases trial and error periodically on its own and definitely justifies the legitimate frustration most players will experience.
Your goal is to infiltrate the Nakamura Space station, but as far as the element of surprise goes, you’ll be spending most of the time inside of the space station, exploring rooms and corridors guns blazing. The station is divided into different zones or levels and with more than 200+ rooms to explore. As mentioned before, you’ll be able to get your hands on an extensive selection of weaponry to take down masses of robots blocking your progress. One thing Ghost never has to fret about is the lack of ammo. Ammo is dealt in a clever way as your ammo-reserve replenishes automatically over time or is dropped in high quantity by enemies. But a unique and brilliant feature about the titular character, isn’t the fact that she can wield a wide range of weaponry or unlimited ammo but her ability to ‘walk’. Her ‘walk’ ability enables her to leave her mechanical body, she’s a robot after all, and floats in her digital ghost form around the rooms and areas. This way she can take control of robotic enemies in order to solve some puzzle like obstacles or simply use it to cause chaos among enemy ranks and attack them. While staying in her ghost form, she’s invulnerable but that can’t be said for mechanical body as it vulnerable for enemy attacks. When this happens, your ghost can’t return to her body and will disappear. Here is where the save point gimmick comes into play as it’s presented as a 3D printer that rebuilds your mechanical body and at the same time functions as a checkpoint.
You won’t be just taking out masses of robots and defense systems, you’ll also be able to take down towering massive bosses and ‘Alarm Zones’ that reside in each area or zone inside Nakamura Space Station. The bosses require some considerable skill and pattern reading, in order to take down these giant mechanical beasts. While inside these Alarm Zones, you’ll be treated with multiple waves of enemies which grant considerable rewards when completed. If you think you can’t handle these obstacles with your current equipment, you can always go grind rooms for energy cubes and secrets that can upgrade your weapons or give you access to your skill tree. Earlier we’ve already mentioned these energy cubes and are dropped by enemies. These yellow energy cubes function as a sort of ingame currency that can be used in shops to purchase or sell weapons and upgrades. These shops are littered around the map and sell all kinds of primary and secondary weapons.
Aside from these energy cubes, you can also collect secret souls that can be found in the majority of the rooms and are obtained through the use of a specific action or requirement. These secret souls function as some sort of skill points which can be invested in the skill tree. This is divided in five separate branches and is partly similar to those which can be found in RPG game. As you won’t be able to choose every single skill, buff or enhancement, you’ll have to consider each choice. You can either focus on upgrading the chassis of your mechanical body, adding passive buffs to your attacks, upgrading the support of Jacker and Boogan or if you feel like it, you can enhance the difficulty of Alarm Zones or defenses inside Nakamura Space Station. This way the games offers a lot of gameplay variety and lets the player control his own experience.
Ghost 1.0 is a beautiful game which is both homage to 2D side-scrolling adventure games and at the same time a fresh new take on the well-known genre by mixing it with modern gameplay elements. It’s a real blast to play and is definitely a great asset to your Steam library. It offers some fun and addictive gameplay that really becomes an enjoyable loop after a few play sessions but can deliver a lot of frustration through some unexpected trial and error. Aside from that, Ghost 1.0 deserves the attention it demands and can be definitely recommended to fans of old school metroidvania games and newcomers alike.