Over the last couple of months, one of my roles at The Goblin Gazette has been to review many of the platformers in our backlog of games. I enjoy reviewing platformers as there are so many of them. Each one requires a competitive advantage, something that sets it apart from the rest of the pack, to be successful. Because of this, the creative potential of game developers is often demonstrated in simple but highly satisfying ways in platformers. Ghostory is a platformer created by RigidCore Games, a team based out of the Czech Republic. It is a great example of developers thinking outside of the box to set their game apart from the rest.
Ghostory follows a traveler who meets an unfortunate fate. After drinking from a pond, he finds that he has become part ghost and only has a week to live…that is unless he can find the cure that lies within a cave nearby. The player traverses the terrain of the cave, gathering keys and pulling levers to get from point A to point B. The character can transition to ghost form, allowing him to travel through walls and fly in the air. But he cannot carry his backpack or, naturally, his belongings while in this state. The puzzles presented in the game require the player to not only get to the desired location, but do so in a way which you can bring your backpack along as well.
Ghostory is a game whose focus is primarily on challenging the player to think outside of the box rather than rely solely on tactical skill. The puzzles are constructed primarily from a series of levers, which can make platforms/walls appear/disappear, moving platforms, keys, which can unlock blocked off areas or gated-in levers, and other elements like buttons and large boxes. Since the main ingredient for the disease’s cure is in the backpack, the goal is to reach the end of the cave with the backpack (it would be too easy to just turn into a ghost and fly through all of the walls between you and the exit).
The journey through the cave is broken up into segments, each one presenting the player with its own unique puzzle. I found these puzzles to be quite challenging and while I felt stumped on a few of them, none of them took a frustratingly long amount of time to figure out. They provided the perfect level of challenge that players would want from a puzzle game.
What I Liked
The first thing I noticed when playing the game was how fluid all of the animation looked. Despite being designed with pixel art, the game moved very smoothly. There were also a lot of environmental elements, like spiders, torches, and bats that brought the game to life. Additionally, the soundtrack was fun, inquisitive, and perfectly fitting for the game’s theme.
Another thing I should praise the game for is how well it is translated. The game is available in English, Slovak, and Czech and while playing in English I found that not only were there no apparent grammatical errors, but the various puns strewn throughout the game’s dialogue translated seamlessly. These are all minor details in addition to the satisfaction I got out of the puzzles themselves. As previously mentioned, I found the concept of the game to not only be enjoyable, but the puzzles offered the perfect amount of difficulty. All of these details cooperated to create a very enjoyable playing experience.
What Can Be Improved
After playing through the game I’m having a hard time thinking of areas that this game is lacking. The game runs very well; I didn’t stumble upon any bugs during my gameplay. Additionally, at 29 levels, the game is about the perfect length for the price. While I can’t think of many ways that the game is lacking, I do see areas where more of the game’s potential could be realized.
One thing that immediately came to mind when playing through these levels is how easily the puzzle elements could be used to allow users to build and share their own puzzles. It would be quite a task for the developers, but I can’t help but imagine how fun it would be to be granted the ability to build and share your own levels upon beating the game. This is, of course, just an idea. But it is something that seems very fitting for a puzzle platformer like Ghostory.
Ghostory was an unbelievably enjoyable game and I must admit it was much more polished than I had anticipated. From the ground up this is just a well put-together game. The graphics are beautiful, meeting pixel art with fluid animations. The soundtrack is not only fitting but fun as well. The puzzles are well put together and clearly well thought out. You can really see the care and attention that RigidCore put into each puzzle that the game offers. Not only was the amount of fun considered when these puzzles were designed, but the degree of challenge was perfectly weighted in each level. I never found myself so frustrated that I wanted to quit playing. But at the same time I never felt bored or as if my brain wasn’t being put to work during my playthrough.
I applaud RigidCore for how enjoyable of a platform experience they were able to provide for me. Especially when I consider this game was created by such a young group of guys. I encourage everybody to go check this game out, especially as Steam has it on sale for the next couple of days.