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When I initially heard about Ghost Master, I wasn’t sure what to expect. While one part of me said that anything from a developer named “Sick Puppies” couldn’t be bad, my pessimistic side remained skeptical….

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When I initially heard about Ghost Master, I wasn’t sure what to expect. While one part of me said that anything from a developer named “Sick Puppies” couldn’t be bad, my pessimistic side remained skeptical. After spending significant time with the title I can say that Ghost Master is a great game that has some noticeable issues.Ghost Master is like a combination of The Sims with the horror of Ghostbusters. In the game, you play as a character simply known as ‘Ghost Master.’ Your job is to command a variety of different ghouls and specters and scare the bejesus out of the unfortunate citizens of Gravenville. You do this by choosing some undead specters from your stable of ghosts and taking them on a haunting mission. Each ghost has a specific fetter or two which it can be bound to such as electrical appliances or emotional objects such as a hospital bed. While bound, your ghosts can unleash their powers on some hapless mortals provided they have enough plasm. Plasm is the life force of the game. While a ghost is using a power, that power drains a certain amount of plasm. As long as you don’t exceed your plasm cap you will be fine. However if you go for periods of time without doing anything your plasm cap will slowly drop. Some of the missions are a real struggle however because of this. Since you are limited in the number of ghosts you can bring, if you don’t bring the right ones you can find yourself not being able to generate scares frequently. This will cause you to have rather low plasm levels for an entire level.The mortals have three different bars from which you can work with: terror, madness, and belief. Once the mortal’s terror threshold is met, the person will run screaming from the level. Meeting the madness threshold will leave said mortal insane and ultimately done for (most levels require you to scare all sane mortals away). The belief bar dictates how easily the mortals themselves will scare. Increasing mortal’s terror will increase your plasm cap so you will be able to use more ghosts and stronger powers. Also, each mortal has a specific fear that will generate a larger amount of terror if triggered than something a mortal is not afraid of. Sometimes the fears worked a little too well. Mortals would experience terror at their fears but would sometimes show little reaction to others. Now if I’m afraid of blood and I see it gushing from the walls I’m going to be terrified. However if I also see the room spontaneously catch on fire I’m going to need a new pair of pants too, regardless of whether or not fire scares me. Unless you know a mortal’s fear, which can be acquired using some ghost’s powers, it really is a guessing game as to what to use. This especially hampers your progress in the beginning as you are usually unaware of anyone’s fears. There are some mortals that can trap your ghosts for the duration of a level. While not particularly smart or effective, these ghost breakers will pose a threat to your spirits if you aren’t paying close attention.As was mentioned before, the ghosts you command have certain powers to begin with. They don’t, however, have all the powers they can. To give your ghouls more scaring tactics you need Gold Plasm. This is acquired by completing the missions and even more can be acquired if you do the missions quickly. You can spend the Gold Plasm at your headquarters, otherwise known as the Ghoul Room. Ghosts are acquired in one of two ways: given to you or they join you in the field. At the commencement of each act you will be given ghosts by the ghoul High Council. In each mission there will be at least one ghost who is trapped in the level to something or even someone. To liberate these ghosts and have them join your troop you need to break the bond that binds them to an object in the level. The ghost will give you hints but sometimes even those don’t help. Sometimes I knew exactly what to do and others simply happened because of something I did that I wasn’t aware of. Freeing some ghosts is more or less a combination of guess work and luck.The campaign has an extremely loose storyline and is semi-linear. While you won’t have to do each mission in a specific order, you are limited by which act it is. After you complete all the missions in one act you will move on to the next. There are thirteen missions in all and one tutorial. The tutorial guides you through the basics of the game. The only problem experienced was that the instructions tend to fly at you at a fast pace. Specifically when trying to learn all the mechanics of rotating the camera. You might have to give it a second listen to get it all down. The missions themselves are spread out nicely in a variety of tasks. Some missions will have you clear out entire houses, a*ist mortals in finding an object, or even simply making mortals believe in ghosts. When you break the missions down though they are all relatively asking you to do the same thing; scare mortals. This makes the missions, especially in the middle of the campaign, drag on. Casual gamers that aren’t into this genre might find the missions boring and tedious. Given that there are a number of different ghosts to capture in each level and large bonuses given for efficient and timely scaring the game does have some replay value. There is no multiplayer mode in Ghost Master.The interface of Ghost Master is well laid out but the controls have a tendency to be rather clunky. While left clicking will enable you to select a ghost and its instructions, it can often be difficult to deselect a command. Some ghosts can be hard to select without clicking on their avatar and description pallets of mortals tend to stick on the screen for no apparent reason.The graphics in Ghost Master are good given the relatively low minimum specifications. The indoor and outdoor environments are all rendered adequately and clearly. The ghouls look great in their eerie green glows and the particle effects from their powers light up the screen brilliantly. Ghost Master features a camera that you have full control of to rotate in any way you please. You can zoom in and out to get a better view of your surroundings and plan your attack. There were some significant slow downs experienced in the game in levels with large amounts of sims. The in-game movies also had a tendency to skip and have occasional slow moments. There was nothing too serious though that would take away from the overall experience of the game.Sound effects and music is where Ghost Master particularly excels. The voice acting is well done and has a certain camp feeling to it. The music is excellent as well and works well with the game. When you start scaring mortals, the music will pick up pace to match the current mood. Combined with the screams of the hapless mortals, the music makes Ghost Master a most enjoyable experience.The AI in Ghost Master is decent; just decent. Most of the sims will walk about the various levels and do different tasks. They will react to conditions as they change such as lighting a fire in the fireplace if you make a room numbingly cold. If they become too scared they will run outside to gather their thoughts. Sometimes the AI controlled sims will seem to do things for no apparent reason. Some of them will almost seem to be doing a military patrol, walking around from room to room but not doing anything.Overall, Ghost Master is an enjoyable title. Fans of The Sims will love this game for its campy feeling and decent single player length. People not familiar with this type of strategy game might find the action lacking in some parts but not enough to totally write off the game. A little bit more polish could have been added but even then Ghost Master is still an enjoyable title.


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