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How Phasmophobia is One of the Best Multiplayer Horror Games Ever

And Possibly the Best Game of 2020

By Cathryn DennisonPublished 3 years ago 6 min read

If you’re into video games, especially horror video games, then you probably have seen at least one video, screenshot, or mention of one of the newest horror games out there: Phasmophobia. If you haven’t gotten the chance to play it, or you’re wondering if it is worth getting, here’s my experience with playing the game.

About the Game’s Development:

Phasmophobia was developed and published by Kinetic Games, an indie game development team from the UK, using Unity. The game was officially released on September 18th for Early Access on Steam. Since then, it’s gained popularity from popular Youtube gamers and has nearly 200,000 overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam.

The Game’s Plot:

In the game, you play as a paranormal investigator who goes to a location to investigate the scene and find evidence of ghosts. You start out with very little equipment, but the more evidence you find, the more money you make as you collect proof of your ghost-hunting adventures. If you’re not careful, though, you will be joining your supernatural friends in the afterlife since they are not too keen on being discovered.

(This is a fairly average death pose, but you will see some glitched out and funny ones in this article and my next one about Phasmophobia.)

If you don’t like playing horror/suspense games with other people, then you will be glad to hear that you can play this game solo. However, if you’re like me and the idea of playing a horror game by yourself, even if there are other people in the room with you, gives you nightmares, then rejoice. The game can be played online with up to three other players.

You can create a private room for specific friends to join (all you have to do is give them the room code number that is generated when you create the room) or you can create/join a public room that is open to anyone and everyone else who is currently playing the game and is looking for teammates.

One of the most notable gameplay features: you can play the standard edition or you can play it in VR (currently compatible with the Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality). The game also has full controller support and remote play on the phone and/or tablet.

(This is what a VR player looks like to a non-VR player. They can sometimes look like they are breaking their body or are doing some interesting yoga poses.)

The Graphics:

Compared to some of the other 3D and/or VR games that I have played, Phasmophobia is definitely on the higher side when it comes to how good the overall graphics are; even more so when considering this is the developer’s first, and so far only, project.

The maps themselves have enough detail to make the game seem much more immersive than so many of the other VR games out there, and it’s equally immersive when it’s not being played in VR. Some of the objects can seem a little simplistic in detail, but there’s no need to focus on them when you’re hunting the ghosts, or the ghosts are hunting you.

Most of the ghosts look even more detailed than the maps and objects in the game, too! Although, this does add to the terrifying factor of the game.

(The video cameras that you can put down have great quality when it comes to the detail and movement of the ghosts and your teammates.)

The Sound:

When it comes to horror games, very few developers rely on the effectiveness that soft sounds have when it comes to increasing the terrifying atmosphere. That is NOT the case for this game.

The developers did an amazing job with choosing sounds that both keep you on the edge of your seat and make you jump out of your skin. They include subtle sounds like breathing or a throat rattle (similar to that from the Grudge; aka the Death Rattle) or jump-scare sounds like a phone ringing or your character’s heart beating.

And if you are playing in a dark area of the map or the lights have gone out, these sounds help make the atmosphere that much more terrifying and spine-chilling.

(When the ghost is after your teammate and is completely ignoring you as you follow closely and are yelling at it...)

The Gameplay:

Compared to other horror games, the gameplay and mechanics can seem like there is way more depth than other games between your inventory system, the fact that all of your evidence is logged in a journal, and the simple design that you have to be as strategic as possible when it comes to how you approach the ghosts and maps.

I do have some mixed feelings when it comes to the inventory system. It seems fair that you can only handle three items at a time, especially when there are over a dozen different pieces of equipment that you can use, but at the same time, there’s no way to track what is in your inventory slots; at least none from what I have experienced.

(When the 'truck person', the person with the lowest in-game sanity who stays in the truck as you're getting the last of the evidence, gets bored because the ghost keeps hunting you and takes advantage of glitches with the equipment and tripods...)

Things that have made the game better:

One of the best things the developers have worked on and put into the game is patch-work; consistent bug fixes. Since the game’s early access release, the developers have gone above and beyond to get feedback about bugs; bad bugs that make the game crash or make it less fun and good bugs that are just hilarious and fun for players who enjoy somewhat glitchy games.

One of the biggest bugs that I remember dealing with since the game’s release was issues with push-to-talk programs, like Discord, interfering with the game’s microphone sensors; if a program like Discord was opened, the game wouldn’t register your microphone’s input, and you’d be screaming for the ghost for it to say/do nothing.

(Current beta release where the ghosts can listen to your mic and go to where your voice is during a hunt...)

(And it opens a door and...)

Things that have made the game worse (or just less easy):

My favorite bug of the game, and possibly a bunch of other players, was the bug that you could squeeze your character between two kitchen cabinets and shimmy up onto the kitchen counters of any map that is a house. For those of you who haven’t played the game yet, this was basically the ultimate safe-zone when the ghost is hunting you.

Since the bug has been fixed/removed, you can no longer have this ultimate safe zone and must hide whenever the ghost is hunting; unless there is another bug that occurs in the future.

(One of the fixes a while back was for the bone to spawn in the center of the room [because it sometimes spawned at the edge where it couldn't be found/picked up] and then it started to, quite literally, spawn in the CENTER of the room.)
(The kitchen counter glitch before it was fixed. This was in the Ridgeview map and it's what you would see if you looked up while on the counters. Yes, you were able to see the ghost through the floor if it spawned.)

Things that would be awesome for the game to have:

Just before I was about to post this, I really wanted the game to always listen to the microphone. When I first started playing, I thought that it always was listening, but shortly as I played with a few noisy teammates, I learned that that wasn’t the case. It made the game a little less scary pretty quickly.

However, in the most recent beta version of the game, I was told that they are either in the process of adding that function to the game, or it is already in the current beta. So, in the non-beta version of the game, we should be expecting a more intense and heart-pounding version of the game.

The biggest scare-factor in the non-beta version that was just added, in my opinion, is that the ghosts can now open doors while they are hunting for you. For the non-beta version, if you were hiding in a closet or another room of the house, the ghosts wouldn’t open the door; unless it wasn’t closed all of the way or it was a special type of ghost.

However, now, no matter what kind of ghost it is, the ghosts can all open the doors in order to find you while it hunts. This makes hiding even more fear/anxiety-inducing!

(This glitch still happens. Every now and then, the doors look like they are floating or are sideways and out of the doorframe. However, it auto-fixes itself if you try to open the door or if you take a picture of it.)

Overall impression of Phasmophobia:

Typically, I am the type of person who cannot handle doing anything related to horror; watching a movie, reading a book, or playing video games. That being said, I am 100% addicted to this game! I’ve put way more hours into this than I initially expected; as of now, nearly 100 hours logged into the game.

Some of my friends who have played the game argue that once you play the game enough to understand the ghost’s movement or general workings, it’s not as scary anymore and becomes less fun. I tend to disagree because the developers have released multiple updates with more content so far, and they plan on releasing more updates in the future to keep players on their toes.

Since the game’s release, there have already been multiple bug fixes, a new map, and a new ghost model, and the game hasn’t even been out for a year yet! True, you can get used to the game fairly quickly, but I’ve met players who are over level 700 who still struggle with staying alive in the game; and it can take over 150 hours of gameplay to get that high level-wise.

Overall, I’d say that for the price of the game, it’s definitely worth it. You can have fun with your friends via PC or VR, or if you are brave, you can try the game out solo; which can be more challenging than not. In my opinion, Phasmophobia is one of the best games of 2020.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my breakdown of the game, please give this a like and share it. It really helps me grow and keep writing. If you’re interested in more of my stories, articles, and more, check out my Twitter for live updates when my most recent works/projects are available.

horror

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    Cathryn DennisonWritten by Cathryn Dennison

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