Ghost Master

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Ghost Master on Steam

MSRP: $4.99

Platform: Windows

Released: 8/23/03


Hear me out. This is probably one of my top 10 games of all time, one of the ones that I encourage everyone to buy (and I get downright obnoxious about it when it goes on sale for 75% off). Yes, it looks dated as hell now, but it’s so insanely fun to play.  Even if you’re one of the three people who hate Steam and everything it stands for, for a dollar more you can get it DRM-free on Good Old Games. There’s just no reason to NOT try it.

The game is a series of scenarios in which you control multiple ghosts with different abilities with a specific goal in mind, such as Scare all Occupants Away. You begin with a fairly easy scenario and small complement of ghosts at your disposal. As you progress, you unlock new ghosts, and your performance on each level gives you currency which you use to unlock new abilities for your ghosts.

Despite the cartoon graphics and the fairly ridiculous premise, this is not a simple game. In each level, there are certain powers that are going to be key to completing your objectives. Different ghosts have different fetters – objects that you can attach them to – and that often restricts where they can be placed.

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The main resource you have to manage is plasma – plasma comes from scaring people, but you always start with a small amount.  Ghost abilities cost different amounts of plasma. You can not bind a new ghost if all your current plasma is currently in use, so it’s important to place your early ghosts where they will have maximum impact. If you are overdrawn on plasma, you can bench a ghost that’s currently haunting, or downgrade the maximum amount of plasma they can use.

It’s starting to sound like an honest to goodness strategy game, isn’t it?

Although you don’t have complete micromanagement control, you can give some ghosts Orders such as “Only use powers when mortals are present”.  These orders help you get the most bang for your plasma buck. The game also allows you to go into POV mode on both your ghosts and your targets if you want to see things through their eyes.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that the game is short, because it is short if your just go on through it without worrying about obtaining all the unlockable ghosts and getting max rank on each scenario. I have 20+ hours on Steam, and god only knows how many in from when I bought the disk at release. Really, how much you get out of it depends on what kind of gamer you are.  I have gotten my money’s worth 5 times over, easily. Your mileage may vary, but I will say I’d be very surprised if you can’t squeeze $5 worth of enjoyment out of this gem.

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The fact that people are still discovering this game 13 years after release makes me giddy.  There are still walkthroughs & videos to be found all over the internet if you’re finding a certain scenario particularly daunting. To this day, I haven’t played anything else quite like Ghost Master. If you’ve never played it, and you like strategy games at all, buy it. Wait for a sale, if you must, but buy it. Play it. You can thank me later.


 

Interested in reading a post mortem from one of the game’s designers? Well, here you go.

 

2 thoughts on “Ghost Master

  1. […] Ghost Master is one of my absolute all time favorite games, and I’ve never played anything quite like it, before or since.  Well, Haunt the House: Terrortown is nothing nothing like it, but it does have it’s own charm. Although I purchased it on PC, I feel like it might be better suited to mobile devices, so I am glad to see it’s available as an app as well. […]

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  2. […] people are few and far between, but there’s a certain charm to playing non-lethal tricks or scaring the pants off people. Neighbours from Hell is an old game that lets you ruin your neighbour’s day, reality-show […]

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