Phasmophobia Suggestions — Difficulty

In my first brainstorm article for Phasmophobia, I talked about handling the predictability. I listed points such as more event and attack types, different reactions to actions and more actions they react. In this second part, I will first talk about some changes we can make to the difficulty, then add some general thoughts and points. If this article is interesting to you, I’d kindly suggest that you read the Predictability article as my ideas are interconnected at some points.

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Changing Difficulty Levels

Less sanity is surely a good way to keep the player on toes, but what if there was more in terms of punishment and gameplay?

Revisiting Objectives and Money. While money at first levels might feel like a grind, you will very quickly have money for everything and keep piling it, especially since the only time you lose money is when you die while you’ll make some amount of money each game. On top of that, the objectives are completely optional and the only motive to complete them is money. This creates a situation where players don’t care about rewards, which means risks are pointless (the actual difficulty of risks is also part of this article.) So here are my alternatives:

  • Finding the entity type (alternatively, any single objective) is the main objective and you have to complete this to earn any money at all. No main objective, no money. Higher difficulties will require a number of side objectives completed as well. Maybe the main and one side for an Intermediate game and the main and two sides for a Professional game. This means that the higher difficulty games need some commitment to profit (also considering the next points about items).

Now, let’s talk about some gameplay mechanics, especially regarding the how the tools and evidence works.

  • In Intermediate and Professional, the name of the entity is not revealed in the van. You need to find it through Ouija boards or items that belong to the entity, and through the spirit box (won’t say its name but will give you information —more about this under General Suggestions)

I think these sort of changes will first make money more important, which makes death more important and make people use their money and items more wisely; while forcing objectives means players will have to take risks, especially if you used some items already.

General Gameplay Brainstorming

From here on out, I list some points that does not fit under the previous topics directly.

Revisiting the Ghost Type Discovery. Right now, finding the entity type is mostly dependant on evidence found by tools. They have 100% accuracy and most of the time, pretty simple to use. Unless you get a roamer or a very large room, you can get readings before you lose enough sanity to be under risk.

However, when, for whatever reason, you somehow can not get evidence, you try to figure out the entity type and that feels more like a paranormal investigator: “Is this a demon? It attacked us pretty often. But then again, we were in the dark, maybe it was a Mare?” Another time: “This seemed passive so far, maybe it’s a jinn and we are looking at the wrong room. Or maybe one of us should try and explore alone to see if it’s a shade”. In my opinion, the most satisfying games have been when we had two pieces of evidence, narrowed the options down then started coming up with theories and testing them out.

Thus, I think that a combination of making evidence harder to get and adding additional options for interpretation would be interesting.

Revisiting the Evidence: Following on that, here is how I think evidence-hunting can be changed:

  • EMF: This is kind of okay as you have to find the entity and get close. With calibration and the entity potentially de-calibrating it, I think the difficulty of it will be okay.

Location and Circumstances. Adding further to the first point and my idea of the name not being revealed right away, I think exploring the location should be beneficial in some, if not most cases, especially as difficulty goes up.

In addition to asking via the Ouija, there could be clues in the house. A child’s name is spelt in the nursery (is it the child’s ghost though? you may need to see it first.) Maybe there is a letter or something hidden in a drawer somewhere or maybe a name written on a wall in blood.

Alternatively, we could receive a report about the names and ages of the people who were recorded to die in the location, similar records of murders and some notes.

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Sample report

If someone died, it could be their spirit. If there was a murderer tied to here, it could be an evil ghost type (like a wraith) of the murderer or the innocent ghost (like a spirit) of the deceased. Further notes could be anything from “lights flickering” to “Resident kids are said to do seances in this asylum”, where the latter could indicate a summoned evil entity (like a demon)

Imagine that you get a report of a house with a murder. If you just say the murderer’s name in the house and if it’s the spirit of the murdered person, the ghost may become irrevocably angry right from the start — you don’t want that. So you might want to find an ouija board. If none is around, maybe you should ask its age through the spirit box. You know that the murderer was young and the murdered was old so if it says it’s old, that’s a clue! Or maybe you find a drawing of a child with a bunny toy. Try to take the toy out of the room, does the ghost react? That could be a clue. Once you deduct who it is, now you have a better idea! Of course, maybe the murdered person came back as a revenant or something.

These things are never certain, but this kind of deduction should be able to narrow options down and give you a better idea of how to act. Important to emphasize here is that this circumstantial information doesn’t feel as useful as evidence, it is by design. It isn’t supposed to be cold-hard facts that directly nail something down but rather supplementary information that can be useful, especially with the increased difficulty of gathering evidence. It may not sound great in terms of direct puzzle-solving, but this is supposed to be a ghost hunting game and dealing with the unknown can add value to it.

Larger Maps. The High School and especially the Asylum can use not only wider interaction ranges but possibly some environmental clues on what happened. Maybe the bone is always in a certain radius of the ghost (I think it’s random at the moment). Or maybe some props are placed around the haunted room — not just outside of it, but around it. If you see a more or less “peaceful” environment on the east wing and more toppled down beds and spilt blood on the west wing, you know where to focus. And to me, that’s better than just keeping an eye out on the thermometer.

Sanity Revisited. From what I understand the sanity has two modes right now. Setup and Regular, each of which is modified by the difficulty.

  • I think there should be more modifiers, maybe effecting the frequency of ticks as well. For example, being far from the entity might lower the frequency (this frequency may not be perfectly in sync with the panels in the van to prevent people from checking that) — something that probably only visible in larger maps.
  1. They restore less sanity. This is an outright nerf without touching functionality.
  • Another way to die could be too low sanity. This could happen when you are subjected to a “strong attack” when you are at very low sanity. You might still avoid these attacks with a Crucifix, but it won’t be as reliable as “Oh if it hunts I’ll just hide in a closet.”

Conclusion

I think these difficulty changes and additions to gameplay mechanics can make the game more challenging and immersive by making risks and rewards more meaningful and adding challenges to straight-up evidence gathering. Combined with the changes to the predictability as noted in the last article, the gameplay can be enhanced.

In my final article, I’m going to talk about potential game modes. If you liked the content, feel free to drop claps and follow and please share your thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

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Gamer, gaming industry wanderer, development and design enthusiast. Current WIP: TBD

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