Phasmophobia is an incredible horror game to play with your friends. The game is a fairly new release from an indie studio with only one developer, but the quality of the game is easily enough to pass off as the work of a well-funded professional company. It won the award for Best Debut Game at The Game Awards, which is just further testament to its quality. 

The premise of the game is you and up to three other people seek out a ghost at a location of your choosing. From there, you have to use various different techniques to try to pin down what type of ghost you are dealing with. Each of the 12 ghost types have unique behaviors which will impact the gameplay. There are also three other randomly decided objectives for you to accomplish, which can range from taking a photo of the ghost to getting it to step in a pile of salt.

Sounds pretty straight forward? There are a lot of challenges you’ll face. First, your sanity. Sanity is a mechanic in the game which helps determine the ghost behavior. When the game starts it will be at 100 percent, but as the game progresses it will gradually drop. The lower it gets, the more active (and scary) the ghost becomes. This can be useful, as a more active ghost is easier to locate and document, although be warned, the ghost can, once your sanity reaches a certain threshold, become able to hunt. When the ghost hunts, it will spend anywhere from 25-50 seconds (depending on the difficulty) seeking out players. If you’re unfortunate enough to be found, it’s game over for you.

Another problem you’ll quickly realize is the lack of equipment you start with. While the game will give you the bare minimum needed to identify the ghost type, lots of useful equipment which you may need for the optional side tasks you need to purchase using in-game money and bring on the mission yourself. This becomes especially important when playing with other people, as even the basic essentials like flashlights need to be purchased and brought for your additional teammates. Be warned though, if you die, any equipment you brought along will be lost.

While the concept of the game is very fun, there are two details which really set the game apart from almost all others in my opinion. First, the voice chat. Phasmophobia utilizes proximity voice chat, meaning that like in real life, the further away someone is, the more distant they will sound. This can make communicating with your teammates both harder at times and also a lot more fun. The game does have a global voice chat system so you can talk to teammates who are very far away, but this will become unusable during the ghost’s hunting phase.

The second feature of the game that really makes it interesting is the ghost mechanics themselves, mainly the fact that the ghost is always paying attention. Even if you don’t realize it, the ghost can react to certain things you say in various different ways. If you say the ghost’s name or certain phrases, you can make the ghost more upset. You can ask it questions to learn more about it. Even if you aren’t talking to the ghost, it can hear you and is even able to locate you using your voice, so keep that in mind whenever you talk. Just a few examples of questions the ghost may respond to are: “How old are you?” or “Where are you?” If you’re feeling particularly brave you can ask some more dangerous questions like: “Do you want to hurt us?” or “Are you angry?”

Phasmophobia, although a very strong game overall, is not without its flaws, as fun as it is. Being a game in early access (meaning it is still incomplete and in development), there are some features that are missing or need tweaking. The game also has its fair share of glitches. One prominent example is that the voice chat feature can break in various different ways. While this does not happen very frequently, when it does happen it can make the game significantly less fun.

Another issue I have with Phasmophobia that isn’t related to glitches is the limited ability to choose the map you play on. You are given the choice between two to six random maps, potentially limiting you from playing on one of the maps you wanted. This is an intentional feature, but I believe the game would be more entertaining if instead you were able to select between all possible maps.

While these flaws are in need of fixing, it is important to remember that the game is still in development. Several of the issues I had initially written about in this piece had to be removed because they were fixed or changed.

The game can be played on a computer or if you have it, VR. The game is playable even without a microphone, although I would advise against it, since many of the key features revolve around the voice chat. If after reading all of this you’re still interested, the game can be purchased for $13.99 on Steam.