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Movie Reviews

Ghost Song Review: Where Action And Loss Meet

The genre of the Metroidvania is one that really benefited from the explosion of the indie gaming scene. While games within the Metroid and Castlevania franchise had once had a stranglehold on that particular gameplay loop, in the modern era titles like Hollow Knight are equally as important to players. Ghost Song is the latest game to try to tap into that kind of magic, from Old Moon and Humble Games.

Ghost Song is a 2D action adventure game set on an isolated moon named Lorian. The player takes on the role of a Deadsuit, awakening from a deep sleep to try and find some of the mysteries of what has happened and exactly what stories lie beneath the surface of this strange world. The player delves deep into caves of Lorian, finding strange and dangerous creatures as they discover the secrets of the moon, meet other inhabitants, and try to find a way out.

Related: 10 Best Modern Metroidvanias Ranked, According To Metacritic

From a gameplay perspective, Ghost Song very much fits into the Metroidvania space. Over the course of the game, the player unlocks abilities and equipment to help them better navigate the world, opening up new pathways as the story progresses. It’s something that will feel very natural to fans of Metroid games in particular, especially given the general atmosphere and setting of Ghost Song.

That’s not to say that Ghost Song purely sticks to a Metroid template here, as it does expand things in different ways such as an equipment loadout system where the player needs to select what abilities they want to have. There is also an action RPG-esque level up system, where the Deadsuit can gain strengths in the ways that suits the player’s style, such as improving melee, health, or ranged attacks. Given the versatility of enemies throughout the game, however, the decision to turn into a glass cannon build with one strength is perhaps not the best setup, which limits the impact on this RPG system overall.

As well as this, there are some elements of Ghost Song that perhaps feel more (whisper it) Soulslike in their format, although this is very much in structure rather than in minute-to-minute gameplay. A death in Ghost Song is not always something of frustration and failure, but instead an opportunity to dive into a specific route, suss out the lay of the land, and get vital experience – both in terms of in-game experience to level up and to genuinely gain more context and confidence for what lies ahead. It adds to the strong sense of exploration that Ghost Song has, as the player comes to try and understand the mazes of Lorian.

It’s also a game world that the player will desperately want to explore, outside of their desire to simply complete the game. Old Moon has created an interesting setting in Lorian, with a mixture of decaying science fiction architecture similar to Vesper, bizarre local flora and fauna, and horrifying cosmic and body horror elements too. It’s an intoxicating mix that gels well together, although comparisons to Zebes are unlikely to disappear any time soon given the similarities of setting and of gameplay.

Something that certainly helps the atmosphere of Ghost Song is its visual design. The locales are all lovingly brought to life, as are the character models, although the real star of the show is the color palette, that shifts between glowing pastels and far darker moments and making Ghost Song an overall evocative experience. It lacks the potency of some of its peers, such as the aforementioned Hollow Knight, Sundered, or The Messenger, but it’s still an effective-looking game.

It is also worth briefly noting the Steam Deck functionality of Ghost Song for those who use the platform. Overall the game runs well on the device, with no slowdown and controls that map well, which is handy given how technical some of its combat can be. However, there are a couple of visual glitches to be found in the pre-release build at least, such as occasional block lines at the top and bottom of the screen in certain areas, although thankfully this is rare and easy to ignore.

Overall, Ghost Song is a very enjoyable addition to the Metroidvania subgenre. It maybe lacks a little bit of originality to help it stand out from its contemporaries in a rather crowded market, but the game does provide a very enjoyable experience. With an atmosphere and story that are haunting and interesting to explore, there are plenty of reasons to delve into the dangerous world of Ghost Song.

More: 10 Best Metroidvanias Under $20

Ghost Song releases 3 November 2022 for PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. Screen Rant was provided with a PC download code for the purposes of this review.

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