Colonial Defence Force: Ghostship – Review
Follow Genre: Indie Adventure Survival Shooter
Developer: MAG Studios
Publisher: MAG Studios
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Colonial Defence Force: Ghostship – Review

Site Score
Good: Replayability, atmosphere
Bad: AI, character and enemy models, sound effects, monotone, steep learning curve
User Score
(6 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.3/10 (6 votes cast)

Big guns, gargantuan spaceships, moaning zombies, creeping alien bugs and thrilling exploration. These are describing terms covering a variety of ageless classic gaming concepts. Colonial Defence Force: Ghostship is an attempt to merge all of these ingredients into a survival game with no expiry date due to a touch of randomization. MAG Studios seems to have pulled this mythical stew out of the oven too soon, as some aspects are clearly undercooked.



CDF, The Colonial Defence Force is back in Ghostship, the next instalment in the CDF universe. Established to uphold peace and provide safety to the Colonial territories in the year 2189, the CDF has continuously seen colonial rule and domination.  Earth’s resources have been depleted nearly 2 centuries ago, leaving the human race no choice but to harvest material outside the planet’s reach. Doing so, many colonies have formed, spreading humankind all across the galaxy and it quickly became evident we’re not alone. There are the Antarians, a peaceful race of high technological standards and the Grelem, a violent, hostile race. During the great inter-galactic war, humans emerged as the new dominant force in the galaxy.

However, in order to keep thriving and surviving and continue evolution as a species, mankind must explore further than ever before, finding and colonizing new worlds. Recently, contact was lost with the most outer colony, in the outskirts of the Icarus system. The CDF Dreadnought class spaceship was dispatched to investigate and resolve the situation. Board the Icarus 3 Space Station and discover what happened aboard the Goliath and why it has been declared a Ghostship.


The atmosphere of CDF:Ghostship is one of the best features, bringing a true feeling of anxiety and anticipation when exploring the multitude of decks aboard the Goliath. The lighting is very well adapted to create the optimal environment according to the intensity of the game. For example, at one moment you are peacefully having a stroll, using your jetpack-like space-double-jumps to get by in a seemingly normal corridor when the next you’ve just turned around the corner and a gloomy mist grabs you. Unfortunately, despite inflicting the creepy-crawler syndrome, the quickly changing scenes may give a repetitive impression and are far from optimized. Yet, bonus points are awarded for giving us the first true panic-scare since we first played DOOM3, which is in fact the perfect way to describe the game’s look and feel.


However, as was to be expected since this game was created with funding that wouldn’t even pay for your standard developing team’s pizza-ordering budget, there are drawbacks to be found. The enemies in this game look as if the mannequins at your local clothes shop have become sentient, died, returned as zombies and have learned how to survive in outer space. Interestingly, it seems as if the poor model quality was taken into account as the lights go out when you’re meeting up with them to serve a laser bullet dessert. The insect like creatures are not in the slightest better. Their hideous design is a well-kept secret due to the fact that they rush straight through your body, hitting you from all sides. Needless to say this often means an annoying, rage quit-inducing death. Extremely annoying, especially considering the already steep learning curve CDF Ghostship has.

Speaking of laser bullet desserts, the gun designs are bland and standard. For a game set in the distant future, I would have hoped for a more appropriate arsenal. Not that blasters and thermal detonators from Star Wars should be included, but it’s a sad day when apparently after 200 years (of which 60 were a raging war apparently), we never figured out how to get away from gatling guns and ye olde safari rifles.



The term “soundtrack” is to be taken quite literally in CDF: Ghostship, as it represent nothing more than a collection of ambient sounds. Granted, it provides an eerie touch of creepiness in game complementary to the lighting. Unfortunately this is completely and utterly nullified by the roaring sound of your weaponry. Now, this wouldn’t be a real problem if the sound effects were up to speed. This brings forth a collection of effects that often sounds like the annoying plastic toy guns kids used to get that sounded like a police car launching atomic bombs at an apache helicopter. Epic as this may sound, it truly is horrible.

What makes matters worse, the otherwise acceptable voice of Portal’s GLaDOS’ sister in law is completely overwhelmed by this. What game expects you to fall back and stop shooting an alien horde just to be able to hear you should take the next flight of stairs?


CDF : Ghostship is not your traditional shooter. One could describe it best as an exploration game with a strong horror-survival component. However, let’s start off with the identifying genre itself. Even though the guns sound and look like they’ve just been copy-pasted versions of what you’d see in the early 2000’s, they are plentiful. You won’t easily run out of shotguns, hanguns and assault rifles. But even with this large arsenal, the only weapon that actually stands out a little bit and almost makes it up to an average level is the gatling gun.


Then there are the enemies and their AI. As mentioned before, the developments were strictly hampered with a low budget, but unfortunately it seems as decisions were made to have incredible monotone enemy actions. Weapons are firing seemingly in the general direction of your crosshair rather than be on target. To make matters even worse, there is a major bug in the bugs. They rush towards you at a speed that many would deem “unfair” and when inevitably one gets close by it will try to head-butt you faster than Zinedine Zidane did to Marco Materazzi in the 2006 world cup final match. This usually results in you being flung all over the place, even further reducing the accuracy of your shots. Death by bugs, take it how you want…

In the end, your mission is to run through the game shooting enemies, finding survivors and figuring out what’s going on until the game ends. However, the advertised random game events do alter every play through. Aside from the obvious Story mode, there are Onslaught, Skirmish, Challenge and Simulation modes. In Onslaught, the player is presented a survival mode where the goal is to get the highest possible killing spree in one out of 4 maps that are directly pulled from the Story mode. It resembles Call of Duty’s zombie mode, minus the awesome kill streaks. Skirmish allows you to prove that you’re space-marine material by having you survive for 25 minutes, even though the biggest challenge is probably to not turn off the game sometime before the bell rings. Challenge mode brings a variety of missions that are intentionally testing your combat skills, agility and problem solving. Finally, Simulation mode brings single missions on historic events in the CDF universe. In the end the message remains the same though, you run (slowly) and shoot, or at least aim at, anything that walks with the exception of the Challenge mode.



CDF: Ghostship is a noble attempt of the smallest of development teams with minimal to inexistent funding to create a hybrid, rogue-like space survival shooter. In some aspects this worked out nicely, for example the randomisation of the levels. However, nearly everything else is less than average. At a certain point in the game, we can’t imagine anyone remaining enthusiastic after getting killed for the seventh time in half an hour, flagging your immediate return to the start. CDF: Ghostship may be worth the buy, especially when you’re looking for the theoretical promise of replayablity, just not at the listed price of 16.99 euros (18.65 USD, 12.06 BP).

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.3/10 (6 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
Colonial Defence Force: Ghostship - Review, 6.3 out of 10 based on 6 ratings

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