How Metroidvania is it? Low Fit. While exploration and options are involved, the game is divided into zones with required quest objectives rather than being rewards for wandering/backtracking. All of your upgrades come from leveling up, and combat focuses on Wave-Based challenge rooms.
Primary Challenge: Ranged Combat
Time to beat: ~8 hours
Review Info: Ghost 1.0 was played on Steam
Buy Ghost 1.0 if you like…
- Fun and ''Real'' characters
- Down-to-Earth (sometimes described as ''Cringy'') voice acting
- Dungeons and Dragons References (And other ''Nerd'' culture)
- Wave-Based Combat
- Rogue-Like Leveling up or Grinding (You get the option.)
▼ Review continues below ▼
It took me a little while to warm up to Ghost 1.0, because the game dumps a ton of options on you. There are six ways to play the game because of the three difficulty settings and two fairly different modes to try. Eventually I found one that felt right and moved forward, but it took starting over a few times to get there. While this game is heavily advertised as a Metroidvania, it balks a lot of conventions and level design, proving that within the genre there are a myriad of experiences. If you’re looking for something very similar to Metroid (or Castlevania) this might not be the best choice for you, but if you like the Metroidvania map and want something different, I can give this a recommendation as a solid title to try.
Ghost 1.0 takes place in the great space station “Nakamura” that serves as a computer server for Robot AI around the world. You play Ghost – a specialized infiltration agent – who inhabits robots including the main chassis you control throughout the game. As you work to uncover the secrets of the Nakamura AI, the game has a lot of variety, but there are two types of play that it emphasizes the most: Puzzles using the Robot Possession mechanic, and Wave-Based Enemy challenge rooms.
At any point in time you can leave your chassis and possess other intelligent robots, but your body is left vulnerable during this process – and if your body is destroyed you suffer the consequences of death. While you can use the possession mechanic offensively by sending your thralls to their doom as they do as much damage as possible, this is basically suicide in the game’s challenge rooms. So its primary purpose is to solve puzzles, which generally consist of hitting switches that are out of your reach. As you progress these puzzles get complex enough to make this more than just a gimmick. It’s a fun way to break up the gameplay – though because of the amount of time you spend in the challenge rooms I occasionally forgot about the ability entirely.
On the challenge rooms; as you wander around the space station you come across rooms with motion sensors that often cannot be avoided. Once the sensors are triggered, you’re locked in that room until your client can hack the doors open again – which time varies based on how you’ve selected your skill points. During this time enemies spawn in waves and attempt to destroy your chassis. These rooms clearly pad the game, but it’s in an enjoyable way. It’s a little like random encounters in an RPG – they CAN be tedious, but as long as you have new things to try it remains mostly engaging. If you’re playing on survival mode you’re also always given a nice skinner box reward for doing them.
Because this game uses a Twin-Stick system with 360 degree aiming, Ghost moves a little sluggish, and the enemies are slow as well to compensate. You have a dodge roll, but by default it doesn’t offer any defensive benefit other than very slight movement speed boost to get out of the way. It all controls very well, but as these challenge rooms get more chaotic your lack of movement options starts to become more frustrating as more enemies fill the screen. With the right weapons this is a non-issue, but this becomes a minor problem with survival mode since the weapons you receive are random.
The loot is the primary difference between Classic and Survival Mode. In both modes, you receive money that you can use to buy upgrades, but on Survival mode you get a random secondary weapon or power-up with each alarm. The alarm has a difficulty level that make all the enemies on Nakamura harder, and with Survival the alarm level goes up by one with each successful challenge complete. If you die, you lose all of your powerups and secondary weapons (except 3 random ones), but the alarm is set back to 1, so the difficulty scales back to match your lack of gear.
Classic lets you save your gear at the checkpoints, but if you die you still lose all your money, and because you rarely receive upgrades from alarm rooms money is the primary means of powering up. This means – as the Classic Mode description warns – to level up you need to farm money. While it might be fun to accumulate inseparable power throughout the game, I personally found this tedious. I’d be a little more forgiving of the system if in death you had the opportunity to retrieve your money, because as-is if you’re saving up for an expensive upgrade death represents a very frustrating setback. Ideally I would have liked Classic Mode to have you find upgrades through exploration (Metroidvania Style), but I feel like the mode was an afterthought for players with a hording mentality. I personally liked Survival mode more, but I can understand the appeal of not needing to worry if your current build is suddenly going to be reset.
Overall I think the gameplay is “Good enough”. Good enough that I was amused until the end, and good enough that I might come back to it again just to try and get to that level 20 Alarm on New Game + (And I might try Classic Mode on Hard at some point.) For the first play through though, I actually felt like the story was a great motivating factor. After I got past the initial cringe of the voicework, the characters really grew on me (I’m a big fan of Boogan.) They make a lot of references to other sci-fi fiction, but with the context of a couple of Geeks breaking into an expensive space station just to see what they can find, it actually made the characters seem more real to me. The Science Fiction aspect of the story is also well-constructed, and it creates a world I would be happy to see in a sequel.
So while I don’t think Ghost 1.0 is a GREAT game, I definitely think it’s worth checking out. I’ve tried to be as descriptive as possible in this review so you know what you’re getting into, but if anything I’ve said appeals to you I encourage you to support these devs. There’s a real passion in this work, and you can feel it when you play it.
Wave-Based survival rooms are the main focus, and can get pretty hectic if not sometimes unfair
There is platforming. It's not fantastic but can be fun at times
There are a lot of little hidden things throughout the game, but the core exploration is locked into zones that require you to go to the important stuff anyway
The robot possession mechanic lends to some interesting spatial reasoning and button puzzles
Fun, Saturday Morning Cartoon style characters that I really felt attached to by the end
Cartoon aesthetic works well, and the cutscenes are great, but some of the animations are a bit stiff
Basic themes that are just catchy enough to get stuck in your head when you're doing mundane things like shopping at the grocery store
Skill tree provides quite a few approaches, plus two options for how you obtain your power
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