(Review by Doug Woloss)
Metroid-vania games are a niche genre to say the least, but there is a reason the formula works. Every few years we see several games take a stab at the classic format with great success, Ghost Song being no exception. Released in November of this year by Old Moon Games on all major platforms, Ghost Song is a 2D adventure game putting players in control of a long-dormant “Deadsuit” on a desolate moon called Lorian V. From there you are given a very brief tutorial and that’s it. The game does very little hand holding and forces the player to be reliant on trial and error as they explore the terrors that lurk in the caverns of the moon below them.
At its core, Ghost Song plays like metroid meets dark souls, meaning you will die. a lot. Enemies are merciless and it makes gameplay quite frustrating at times, something From Software has mastered. and you’re only outfitted with a basic blaster and a quick melee, with said blaster. However, when the blaster overheats, it’s shots are less effective but it increases melee damage, adding an interesting strategy to combat. As you progress, you will find upgrades and modules that will modify your play style. For example, One module will increase your electricity damage output while also making you more vulnerable tom all damage. There are twenty seven suit modules and twelve blaster modules in total, bringing a vast list of build options later in the game, an aspect loved by many fans of the rogue-like and rogue-lite genres.
Aside from these there is a basic currency called Nanocells that is earned from either killing enemies or finding caches hidden throughout the map, upgrade stations are peppered throughout the map allowing you to spend the Nanocells on various upgrades to buff your damage, health or energy, among other stats. But be careful, because similar to souls games, you will drop all Nanocells upon death, having to travel to where you dropped to collect them again. If you happen to die before you get back to your lot, kiss it goodbye. There is a second, less painful difficulty that reduces the loss on death, so if the idea of losing your wallet when you die doesn’t appeal to you, then you might want to take the road less traveled
Where this game excels is its Art and Sound Design, which evokes something along what H.R. Giger could only dream of. Haunting, Visceral, organic masses envelop each room you progress into, with the occasional appearance of machine thrown in various places, truly making this alien world come to life. You never know what you are going to run into as you venture into new room after new room.
Now, you can play on mouse and keyboard, though you are prompted with a message saying its best experienced with a controller. Though, even on Controller the controls feel a bit stiff at first. You are not very fast, but you do eventually get a dash and sprint ability based on your energy level, which will deplete very fast and potentially leave you in a rough situation. I found myself spamming the dash button instead of walking as it just made more sense.
As far as Metroid-vania style games are concerned, Ghost song is a fine entry, but it pales in comparison to other entries that have come out in recent years. It Is a fun, that doesn’t really have much to offer past its module system. Give it a few months and it will be lost in the Gamepass catalog.