By Raven Lirio
Looking for a horrifying new game for this Halloween season? Fresh to the Steam market and rising up among Twitch streamers is the ghost hunting game Phasmophobia. Like many haunting horror games, this PC video game is not for the faint of heart.
Phasmophobia is a multiplayer online game where players visit “haunted” locations to discover evidence of ghostly activity. Players enter houses, barns, and even high schools and asylums to locate the ghost within the building. Once inside, you can use various equipment such as cameras, UV lights, EMFs, salt, thermometers and more to locate a ghost’s “room,” which is one room in the building a ghost inhabits the most. These items can all be picked up and used from the starter van which houses objectives and other important tools. Your van includes live footage from cameras you have set around the house, ghost activity and the sanity level of each player, which decreases the more ghostly events that you witness. We will come back to sanity levels later.
Each item you bring can help with identifying the ghost you are dealing with. In addition to the optional objectives in the van, you will always be tasked with identifying the type of ghost at your location. Your journal contains a variety of different ghost types from phantoms to banshees and even demons. Every ghost type has a certain set of items they respond to that can help you identify what kind of ghost you are dealing with. For example, if a ghost is able to leave fingerprints that would narrow down your list to Spirit, Wraith, Poltergeist, Banshee or Revenant. As you discover more evidence while interacting with the ghost, you will be able to identify the correct ghost type for extra cash at the end of the mission. The more objectives you complete, the more cash you earn which can be spent on more items for future missions.
One of the most prominent parts of the game is sound. Phasmophobia requires a working microphone and headphones so that you can hear noises around the locations and speak to the ghost to increase activity and provoke it. One item you can use is the “Spirit Box” which can be used to converse with the ghost. Asking questions like “Where are you” and “How old are you” can lead to some ghosts responding back with chilling answers of “close” or “old” in response to your questions. You can communicate with ghosts without the Spirit Box and ask for the ghost to “show you a sign” for some interactive haunting. You can also anger a ghost by calling its name, which you will be given at the beginning of the mission in the van. Just remember that your microphone is on all game and ghosts can hear you talking even if you are not communicating over your walkie talkie to your teammates- so make sure to stay quiet if you are hiding from one.
Speaking of walkie talkies, there are two forms of communication in the game: local or global chatting. To communicate with teammates you will need to use your local walkie talkie for players near you or your global radio to communicate with all team members. This is the only way to communicate in-game so use your radio for bigger announcements and local communicator for talking to people in your immediate vicinity. Bear in mind that ghosts can hear your communication around the building.
As you explore more of the building and experience ghostly events, your sanity level drops which can trigger a hunt. Players that interact with ghosts too much, witness ghostly activities or remain in darkness too long may lower their sanity to the point that the ghost goes on the hunt for a kill. Once this occurs, any flashlights players have will begin to flash and players need to hide until the ghost calms to avoid being killed. Players who fail to hide from the ghost will see the ghastly hands of the being before succumbing to death. It is a horrific experience but one that many horror enthusiasts crave.
“It’s a lot more grounded than most horror games,” graduate student Nikolis Clark said. “Compared to other games, the goal isn’t to defeat or survive the horrible monsters but instead to experience it. That’s what makes it really unique.”
There are multiple strategies to dealing with different ghosts but ultimately each game is unique due to the various ways ghosts can interact with players and the environment. Even professional players have explained how they still get spooked in harder levels by the ghosts that appear, especially when they appear in front of you. The interactive aspects of Phasmophobia really allow it to stand out as one of the top horror games trending on the market. The various events and random sounds and creaks never cease to surprise even the most careful players.
Next time you are looking for a scare, try out Phasmophobia and get ready for your next mission—just make sure you are the hunter and not the hunted and do not forget your flashlight. ◼︎