Here we have the second major game from Francisco Tellez de Meneses, better known as Unepic_Fran, the creator of the excellent fantasy Metroidvania Unepic. Does Ghost 1.0 live up to the impressive standard set by its predecessor?
Before playing Ghost 1.0, you're greeted with an important question that will greatly influence your experience. It can sometimes be frustrating to make such a major decision with no prior knowledge so allow me to explain the modes of Ghost 1.0. Firstly, Survival mode is akin to a roguelite although there are no procedurally generated levels. If you choose it, you'll experience more randomness when it comes to power-ups, upgrades, secondary weapons, and item drops. Also, death is punishing in Survival as you lose a significant amount of your upgrade progress when you die. You also have to spend hard-earned currency on health refills which are free in Classic mode. Classic mode plays like a traditional game where shops have predetermined items and you unlock weapons and upgrades in a specific order. Death is still punishing as you'll lose almost all of your energy cubes (Ghost 1.0's currency). However, it's more forgiving overall and I recommend that you choose it before your first playthrough.
Now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you all about the gameplay and story. Ghost 1.0 is an action platformer with twin-stick shooting combat where you move with the left stick, aim with the right stick, and fire using the right trigger button. It takes place on the labyrinthine Nakamura Space Station which you'll slowly explore during your 8 to 10 hour first playthrough. You play as Ghost, a mercenary-for-hire who is recruited by hackers named Jacker and Boogan to infiltrate the Nakamura Company and steal information about their secret project. It's an interesting sci-fi premise but I found myself turned off by the verbose and crudely animated cutscenes and uninteresting characters. Anyway, the campaign starts out challenging regardless of mode and I found myself dying a lot early on even on Classic mode. Fortunately, upgraded abilities are acquired fast and once I found the first upgrade shop, I was able to right the boat and my experience became a lot smoother and more enjoyable as a result.
You begin with just 1 gun which has unlimited ammo but needs to recharge as you use it so if your aim isn't precise, you'll wind up out of bullets thus resulting in having to avoid enemies while waiting for your ammo to refill. As you progress, you'll unlock several secondary weapons that allow you to swap between guns to the point where you won't have to worry about being stranded with an empty weapon. These weapons along with a plethora of upgrades, power-ups, and items make the gameplay more accessible and add variety. Power-ups and upgrades are permanent and provide armor and attack boosts, additional drone attack bots that follow you around, and more. Items are single-use and generally provide benefits like health regeneration and they can be recharged in shops for a fee.
The Nakamura Space Station is filled with enemies that are programmed to remove intruders. This is especially noticeable in alarm rooms where you have to survive a couple minutes of an enemy onslaught before Jacker can deactivate the alarm. These cause headaches at first but you'll learn to embrace them because they reward large amounts of energy cubes that you can spend on the aforementioned upgrades and weapons. Besides being a heavily armed killer, Ghost also has the ability to shift into a spirit and take control of enemy robots. This can be useful for combat once in a while but plays a bigger role in solving puzzles. Many rooms will have locked doors that can only be accessed by enemy robots under Ghost's control and these simple puzzle rooms provide a nice break from combat.
Almost every room in the space station also has a little secret in it and once you activate it, you disperse miniature souls all across the room. Collecting these souls rewards you with energy cubes, items, and upgrades. It's fun searching for the secret activation point in each room and it differs from room to room. Sometimes, you'll activate it by killing a certain enemy, entering or exiting a specific door, touching a particular part of the room, or blasting away a wall that hides the secret. Finally, alongside the 2 gameplay modes and 3 difficulty levels, you'll also unlock about a dozen standalone missions that can be accessed from the main menu. These missions are short challenging segments that will test your combat and platforming skills. They don't add anything major to the overall experience but they do act as a fun addition for players looking for more unique content after beating the campaign.
Ghost 1.0 is an exciting action game with a robust Metroidvania world to explore. I wasn't terribly engaged by any of the characters or its storyline but it's still an easy recommendation for anyone looking for some fun 2D combat.
- + Tons of powerful upgrades and unlockable weapons add a good amount of variety
- + Fun twin-stick combat and exploration
- + Nifty additional missions
- - Crude character designs and animations
- - Uninteresting characters and story