Updated: Dec 20, 2022
Growing up in the 80s, Ghostbusters profoundly impacted my life. As a kid, I dreamt of being a Ghostbuster. I had books, costumes, and toys that allowed me to play out my dream. As I grew older, I still craved the experience and turned to video games for that entertainment. Over the years, there’s been some good games and not-so-good games. Fortunately, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed falls in the former category, and in fact, it may be the best Ghostbusters game.
For starters, you get to customize your Ghostbuster. You can change your hairstyle, face, and body type. But the real fun comes when choosing your outfit. There’s quite a bit to select from, ranging from wearing the full jumpsuit to tank tops or flannel shirts. In addition, you can decide if you want the suit unzipped and your cuffs rolled up. All this plays into the attitude you want for your Ghostbuster. Many of the options will unlock as you progress through the game and gain levels. My absolute favorite part is changing the color scheme of your outfit, as many of the colors are directly from The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. It shows that the devs did their homework. To top off the customization is the fact that your gamer tag is your nametag on your outfit.
Busting ghosts is just as satisfying. As you explore the different buildings set, you and three other busters must close the ghost rifts and catch the ghost haunting the premise. As the place becomes more haunted, you need to calm down the guests via a quick-time event. Working together is key to nabbing the ghost, as trapping them in your stream works better with more than one Ghostbuster, while another can throw out the trap. You need to keep the spirit lassoed and pull them into the trap. A successful hunt feels rewarding. Failure sends you and your fellow busters running out of the building. Finding a ghost can be tricking, but thankfully you’re equipped with your trusty PKE reader, which will direct you on where to go.
As you proceed through the game, you level up your equipment, providing you with better stats for your proton pack, PKE, and trap. You upgrade these items by modding the different parts of the equipment. Some parts may give you a better chance of tethering a ghost, but may also slow you down. It’s up to you how you want your build-out, which will allow you to adjust your tools based on how you best play the game.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Illfonic game if you couldn’t play as the enemy. As the ghost, your job is to cause a full haunting before the Ghostbusters can close all the portals and capture you. You have a few tricks up your sleeve, like haunting objects, flying through portals, possessing items, scaring civilians, and unleashing an ultimate attack. All of these, except for possession, will take up energy; once you’re out of energy, you need to replenish it before using your abilities. Possessing an item will regain the energy. Leveling up will open new specters to choose from, which provide different powers.
Under all this is a fun story. The game takes place right after Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Winston decides to invest in the Ghostbusters franchise, and you are one of the new recruits. Besides speaking with Winston, you also run into Ray, who is still running his book/occult store, which happens to be conveniently located across from the firehouse. To interact with the original Ghostbusters (which are voice acted by the original cast) is fun and adds to the overall atmosphere.
If there is one complaint to be had is that this game would be much more fun with a group of friends. And because of that, I wish this were on the Game Pass or PS Plus. It seems like a missed opportunity. While playing as a Ghostbuster is fun, playing with a disorganized group isn’t productive. The Ghostbusters movies were successful because of the camaraderie that played out on the screen. The same can be said about this game.
Final Grade: A-
Review code provided by Illfonic