Phasmophobia — An Early Access Review
Edit: You can find my Starter guide here once you enjoy the review!
I am a coward.
I am a coward and I absolutely love horror movies. I was always interested but my interest was more active during university with Paranormal Activity, I’ve watched stuff like Conjuring, REC, Insidious and several from the Turkish scene like Dabbe series and Musallat. Around the time I also rewatched classics like A Nightmare on Elm Street series, Hellraiser and the Exorcist.
When it comes to games, I have to say I tried but never really got into them. Not because I didn’t like them, but because I was too scared. I remember playing Amnesia with my then-girlfriend, midday and we were both losing our minds and shouting. I loved the concept of Clive Barker’s Undying back when and I did try Slenderman but recently, I have been away from the genre.
When I saw Phasmophobia though, I knew I had to try it. I went in knowing very little and I’ve been absolutely obsessed with the game. In almost a week’s time, I have over 35 hours. I will be writing more about it but in this article, I’m going to give you a review so you have a rough idea of what you are getting into.
Phasmophobia is a VR & PC title developed by Kinetic Games — who is apparently a single developer! The game can be found on Steam and currently rocks an astounding 97% approval rate with 10k reviews! You can play the game solo, but the real experience is in co-op, which can be played up to 4 people. You can send codes to your friends for a private game or join a public lobby.
You play supernormal investigators, whose job is to find out the kind of supernatural entity through proof and to provide some other proof in different missions. The game was just released for Early Access on Steam and its current stage it features 12 Supernatural entities such as Poltergeists, Demons and Onis, 7 locations ranging from a farmhouse, a highschool and an asylum and 22 pieces of equipment like a candle, an “EMF Reader”, a spirit box etc.
You choose one of the available contracts in your garage, decide which equipment to bring then head out to the location in your van. You have a computer and some screens in the van, where you can track things like your sanity and the ghosts’ overall activity. You can also see the layout of the house and via the computer, you can see through any video cameras you brought, be it one you placed in the house or a head-cam.
Each entity type has three types of proof they manifest. For example, a Spirit will talk into the Spirit Box, leave fingerprints and write in notebooks you leave; meanwhile, a Banshee will leave fingerprints, show a level-5 reading on EMF Reader and generate a freezing temperature.
Using your equipment, you’ll start looking around the house for proof. The most important part is to find the location the entity is haunting as this is the area where it will be around and where you’ll find the proof. The entity will react to your actions — it may be angry if you enter its room or if you fiddle around too much and especially if you say its name. It will flicker the lights and move objects. Sometimes it will show itself briefly, hiss at you or do the “Grudge croak.” Turning on the lights will make the ghost angry but closing them will drain on your sanity. Lower your sanity, likelier for the ghost to start a “Hunt”. If the ghost starts hunting you, the only thing you can do is hide otherwise it will follow and kill you!
The game has simple sound effects utilized greatly. The constant creaking sounds in locations, the well-timed hiss right on your back, the words from the Spirit Box and of course, the heart-pounding when the ghost is aggressive and nearby… The atmosphere is undeniably and terribly breathtaking.
For players unmoved by horror, the value of the game will be greatly reduced, yet there is still the part of finding proof and finding ways to get the missions done. Sometimes the best way to get the entity to do something will be to stay alone, risking an attack. Another time it will be by staying in the dark. And if you are not efficient enough (which may be tough when you are in a big map and higher difficulty), your sanity will be dropped so much that the ghost will leave you no quarter.
And if you are indeed affected by horror, you are in for a treat. You’re going to be jumpy, you will get constant chills and you will fight over who needs to stay alone in a dark room to speak with the potentially murderous entity. Unfortunately, with more people comes more talking and a more relaxed mind. While it doesn’t make the game any less scary, it does reduce the scares you get unless you are in a medium or large map.
Regardless of your player type, the game offers hours of fun even in its Early Access stage. I strongly suggest NOT reading about the game at all for a while and playing with a single friend doing the 1 and 2-person maps. This way you will experience the fear of loneliness and mystery along with everything the game itself brings. I also suggest not watching many videos or watching people who are playing the first time and are as confused as you are.
I already dropped a positive review on Steam and I’m going to write at least two more articles. The last time I enjoyed a game this much was Subnautica. A curious happenstance as Subnautica articles were the first ones I started this blog and I’m bringing activity back again with Phasmophobia. Next one will be tips about the game and the other one will include my thoughts on what’s next.
Until then… [Adult] (You’ll know when you play the game)