Title: Ghost Song
Developer: Old Moon
Release Date: November 3, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Humble Games
With only a few exceptions, Indie Games have been some of my favorite experiences in gaming in the last several years. Between Undertale, Shovel Knight, Hollow Knight, Cuphead, and others, some of the most legendary games have come from pure love for the project. Ghost Song, developed by Old Moon, has every chance to join those titles at the top of the ladder, a shining example of what video games can and should be. After being in development for nearly a decade, I believe the result is well worth the wait.
Ghost Song gives you control of the Deadsuit, a battlesuit on a strange moon where infection and decay are rampant. As the Deadsuit, you explore the reaches of the moon, fighting bugs, corrupted animals and plants, and androids to discover the secrets to your identity and the moon’s history. On your journey, you encounter survivors from a crash and attempt to assist them in repairing their ship and escaping the moon. This is your primary goal, but each character has a story to explore. Depending on a few factors, assisting the crew and exploring the moon might answer specific questions and earn you different endings.
The moon’s atmosphere is bleak at the surface but brimming with life underneath—deadsuit attacks with her main blaster, which can be fired at various angles. Like Metroid Dread, you can hold a trigger to free-aim your weapon. You also gain different secondary weapons, such as missiles and a shotgun, all of which require Energy.
Energy recharges over time, allowing you to use these weapons as much as you want. You also have melee attacks and various equipable weapons with multiple speeds and ranges. While the melee weapons might seem unnecessary, guns and melee weapons all interact uniquely. For example, sustained fire with your gun will cause the primary weapon to overheat. This drastically slows your fire rate and takes time to cool down.
However, using your melee weapon while your gun is overheated nearly doubles your melee damage. This creates a flow and synergy to your combat, letting you rely on your various guns for burst damage, then switching to your melee option to take advantage of the damage boost. Some secondary weapons also cause a lot of heat buildup but do considerable damage. Therefore, finding balance within your many weapon options is essential, and every alternative is viable.
Killing enemies and using certain items will grant you NanoCells. These can be used to increase your stats, such as your health, Energy, stamina, and various attack damages, but also increases your Power Capacity. Since Ghost Song has been developing for a long time, it has gained inspiration from newer games like Hollow Knight. This manifests in the Modules.
These are equipable parts, granting a variety of passive effects. For example, one displays enemy health; a few reduce heat buildup in your guns. Again, there are a variety of impacts, but all cost Power Capacity. Even your secondary weapons cost Capacity, so you must balance your layout as you go. However, the good thing is that regardless of the stat you choose to increase, Power Capacity will always increase.
To tie off mechanics inspired by the Souls series, if you die, you drop every NanoCell at the point of your death, but when you respawn, your max health will also be decreased until you can find a repair point. Even with this, Ghost Song isn’t challenging, though several enemies and locations will be difficult.
The biggest challenge I found is two-fold. First, as you progress, not only will enemies become stronger and more varied, even in areas you’ve been through before, but certain boss enemies will appear in certain areas. Unlike bosses fought for story reasons, you can run away from these, but defeating them will give you new weapons or modules. This adds an excuse to explore places you’ve been before, even if you haven’t precisely gained a new exploration item.
Since this is a Metroidvania, exploration is the focus. As you explore, you will gain new abilities to help you go deeper into other parts of the moon. Not only movement abilities but also some weapons will get you further.
The world you will explore is equal parts beautiful and terrifying. Ambient sounds, vivid colors, enemies that can blend into the environment, strange and gorgeous lifeforms tucked deep into the earth. The vast majority of the story is told to you simply by paying attention to context clues in various places. The rest is told via communicating with the survivors of the crash and the random sentient life you find on your adventure.
The characters you meet are center stage, and many players will be well-represented by the cast. Even Deadsuit has incredible depth. If you want to focus entirely on the story, there is a more accessible mode, allowing you to almost remove the punishments of death and explore more leisurely.
In a year of great releases, Ghost Song stands apart as one of the best. It was a fantastic adventure from start to finish. If you have played and enjoyed Metroid Dread and are looking for something to tie you over as you wait for Silk Song, Ghost Song will take you on a journey that will amaze and surprise you.
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