Reviews - Updated on April 6, 2022

Playing horror games is a rather intimate activity that does not tolerate fuss and requires suitable conditions: no extraneous irritants, darkness and complete loneliness. Is it possible to be successfully frightened together when there are several, albeit virtual, but still living comrades next to you?

It is clear that the very existence of the cooperative horror genre means a positive answer to this question, but such “co-ops” have always had problems with popularity. All the more surprising is the sudden rise of the unknown Phasmophobia from Kinetic Games: in the month that has passed since the release on Steam Early Access, this indie horror game has been able to boast tens of thousands of players online and now deservedly claims to be one of the best horror games of this fall, or even of the year .

An important measure of popularity at the present time is the number of streamers and viewers of live broadcasts. According to Twitch, this is all right, but should you play Phasmophobia yourself?

Ghostbusters

Indie horrors, given the relative ease of their creation, have long become a separate meme from among those dedicated to the dark side of Steam – the very one because of which hundreds and hundreds of crooked debut crafts account for a few worthy games. At first glance, Phasmophobia is not far from its counterparts: the ubiquitous Unity, low-quality textures, “wooden” animations, minimal work on the convenience of the interface… To pass in a couple of hours and forget if you managed to buy something like that? Take your time – if you follow some simple rules, then horror will reveal itself from the best side.

If you have a VR headset, be sure to use it. This will smooth out the wretchedness of the graphics, and will only have a positive effect on the atmosphere. The advice, of course, is good, but for obvious reasons, not suitable for everyone. It doesn’t matter – you can play without virtual reality devices.

The next condition for good wagering is simpler, but it is also the most important: forget about playing alone. Strictly speaking, Phasmophobia is not a purely cooperative horror film. A single passage is in place, but the sensations in such a case are unlikely to be bright. It is better to find at least one comrade (ideally, to assemble a full quartet) and already with this friendly company go hunting for ghosts.

Phasmophobia game preview

Competent work with lighting allows the game to look decent, despite the technical backwardness of the graphics.

Yes, in this game, which many compare with the famous “Ghostbusters”, the main characters are not at all random victims of otherworldly mystical forces, but specialists doing their job. Their task is to arrive at the location (as a rule, this is some kind of abandoned building), determine the type of ghost by circumstantial evidence and, if possible, carry off their legs unharmed. There are additional tasks that are given out randomly, such as taking a picture of a ghost or finding a specific sign of his presence, such as blackened water in a sink.

If the hunters did well, then a small cash reward awaits them. Money here is not just an indicator of the team’s success, but primarily a way to acquire useful equipment that is necessary to get the job done. The range of equipment is wide: from a banal flashlight to the most complex devices, such as sound and motion sensors.

Finding out the type of ghost is not difficult – each representative of otherworldly forces has three key features. But the search for these clues each time takes place according to a new scenario – this, apparently, has become the main reason for the popularity of the horror movie.

Phasmophobia game preview

After death, you can observe the actions of comrades.

Call him quietly by his name

The first five minutes after leaving the special van, on which the team arrives at the task site and which serves as a base and equipment warehouse at the same time, you can be calm for your own skin – during this period, the ghost behaves relatively quietly, allowing the four daredevils to climb into the wilds of the level in search of evidence Since each player’s inventory is limited to only three items, one of which is usually a flashlight (are you not crazy to go into frightening darkness without it?), you have to split up and set yourself specific tasks: one takes a thermometer, the second – an EMF sensor, the third is carrying cameras with him, and the fourth is looking for prints with a UV flashlight.

Usually this quiet five minutes is enough to find one type of evidence and locate the ghost’s habitat, after which the fun begins. As a rule, for further identification and performance of additional tasks, the ghost must be stirred up: for example, to get him out of himself by shouting into the microphone, calling evil spirits by name. Yes, the game can recognize speech, so some kind of conversation with a ghost is possible.

In general, serious attention is paid to sound here: there is voice positioning, talks on a walkie-talkie, a fairly honest simulation of the reflection of sound waves from walls in rooms – all this has the best effect on immersion in the atmosphere of a nightmare.

Phasmophobia game preview

I’m not a good photographer, but such a shot is a great success: I managed to capture a ghost and survive.

When the type of ghost is finally determined, it’s time to blow your feet – if possible, of course. Each ghost enters the so-called hunting phase: if the flashlight in your hands suddenly began to flicker convulsively, this means only one thing – it’s better to hide as soon as possible, otherwise it won’t be good. Due to the fact that a real horror movie can start at any moment, you don’t feel like walking alone at all, but it’s the joint actions in seconds of panic that give those unforgettable sensations, thanks to which Phasmophobia stands out among other horror games.

Entertain yourself

There are enough frightening and at the same time funny situations: send a friend to the basement and listen to his wild cries into the radio when a ghost overtakes him; to participate in a mass race wherever your eyes look at the slightest hint of otherworldly activity – believe me, it is very funny when a seemingly well-coordinated team suddenly turns into a crowd rushing about in horror. Sipping tea in the trailer, watching with a smirk as the markers of comrades go out one by one on the interactive map, and suddenly realize that now you have to go to an abandoned house without friends.

In a single passage, the player loses such a luxury as the viewer of a horror movie, contemplating it in splendid isolation, is deprived of the opportunity to observe the reaction of his comrades. It’s not for nothing that Phasmophobia is so popular among viewers of live broadcasts – watching a streamer screaming in horror can sometimes be quite fun.

Phasmophobia game preview

In the trailer, you can take a breath, change equipment and watch what is happening on the level through the cameras. An island of calm in the realm of fear!

The last important rule that must be followed for maximum pleasure is not to approach the tasks with all seriousness, trying to win at any cost. The missions aren’t really difficult at all – once you get the hang of it and understand the rules, it’s fairly easy to determine the type of ghost in a matter of minutes, especially at lower levels.

You have to invent tests for yourself – for example, try to take a picture of a ghost without fail, which in an understandable way affects the survival of the team, but allows you to be scared to the fullest. Dry calculation and careful planning should be discarded – oddly enough, the more gouging and newbies in the team, the more interesting the round.

After all, if you look at the game with a sober look, then the cat cried content here. Yes, the developers were able to find a formula for success, but for some reason, the ways that lie on the surface to improve the gameplay are almost never used. There are not enough screamers, there are not enough random events (for example, there is an unexpected phone call, but you quickly get used to it), you want more unpredictable behavior of otherworldly forces. The whole horror is in the unknown, and when you know exactly how the ghost works, it’s not so fun to be scared.

You will remember your first meeting with a ghost for a long time.

***

The first few hours in Phasmophobia gave me one of the strongest gaming experiences of the current year. But then there is a sharp decline – horror is not able to constantly surprise, and instead of fear, you talk more about how cool it would be to add this or that “feature”: the ability to play as a ghost, other levels, new ghosts, tasks, evidence and equipment. From the former horror there is no trace, from the funny – except perhaps the observation of the first steps of beginners who do not yet know the basic principles of gameplay.

If you like Phasmophobia streams, then it’s time to take a short pause in watching them: the game provides a good way to test the nerves of the whole company for strength – even if the thrills are unlikely to last longer than a couple of evenings.

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