If there’s a shortage of any genre in the indie gaming scene, it certainly isn’t present in either rouge-likes or first person horror. If you want to make one of those games, you have to do something to stand out. And sticking the word “Simulator” at the end of your title isn’t good enough anymore. Enter Dreadlocks and their take on first person spook-fest Ghost Theory.
You know those reality shows about ghost hunters that are nothing but dudes yelling about wind and creaky floorboards? That’s kind of the role Barbara finds herself, the heroine of the game. She’s a professional ghost hunter, but she isn’t followed around by a camera crew, nor does she shriek like popular Youtubers. Needless to say, in Ghost Theory, ghosts are real, and they can be a bit of a problem.
Ghost Theory feels like the next evolution of the horror game. For a while, everything was trying to ape Amnesia; there was a single monster following you around and there was nothing you could do to stop it other than running away. Here, things are a little different.
There are still monsters stalking you, ghosts in this case, and you still have to use stealth to avoid them. But how you interact with them is completely different. They’re not trying to directly kill, for a start. Barbara’s job is to investigate haunted places (modeled after real world locations), and drive the ghosts out of our world. The more you investigate and poke around these locations, the more likely you are to awaken these ghosts. The developers promise large open-ended areas to explore as well.
The ghosts are completely invisible, and will react to your actions. They didn’t go into a ton of detail on this point, but presumably if you’re careful enough you might be able to evict these ghosts before they get too angry. You wouldn’t like them when they’re angry. They don’t do anything to try and kill you directly, rather they try to scare you. If Barbra gets too scared and tense, she could have a heart attack.
To see the ghosts you have an array of options, some of which otherworldly in their own right. Barbra is a clairvoyant, meaning she can briefly see the ghosts, and experience flashbacks that’ll be key to figuring out why locations are haunted. There’s also the patented, trademarked Ghost Hunting Equipment, such as a UV light, pendulum, holy water, and EVP recorder. If all else fails, you’ll be able to detect ghosts via the extreme drop in temperature, indicated by the sudden sight of Barbara’s breath.
Your objectives are to figure out why locations are haunted, gather visual proof of ghosts, and collect ectoplasm samples. Yes, yes, make your jokes now please and let’s get on with it. You’ll be doing more than running away from ghosts and hoping for the best, because here part of your job is to capture or banish them.
I do have some questions and concerns about the gameplay, however. A big emphasis is made on remaining stealthy and avoiding the ghosts, but not much is said about how you’re to capture or eradicate them. Also, I’m worried most of the horror will come in the form of jump scares. Exploring dark, old, crumbling buildings that you know are haunted sets up a great atmosphere, but it’s hard to tell exactly how the ghosts will provide scares since they’re invisible. Is a floating flower vase going to be enough to make you cack your pants?
There’s also a lack of gameplay being shown off. Most of the in-game shots consist of the camera swinging around dark environments, while any actual mechanics are demonstrated via concept art. It’s not a huge problem, other, likely more successful crowdfunding campaigns have got away with much less. The game is likely in its early stages, so that’s something to keep in mind.
If anyone can figure out the gameplay, it’s Dreadlocks. They’re responsible for Dex, another Kickstarter funded game, and the lead designers worked on Divinity: Original Sin for the crowdfuning trifecta, as well as the ARMA series.
It’s still early in the campaign, it hasn’t crossed the $1,000 mark yet at time of writing, but so far it’s looking solid.
Track the progress of the Ghost Theory Kickstarter in our Campaign Calendar.