When I was a kid, I owned pop-up picture books. You would turn the page and get greeted by a magnificent scene which appeared right before your very eyes, complete with tabs to move as you spy into peoples houses, levers which made objects spin around, and wheels that changed various colours or expressions. At the time, that was probably the most advanced form of storytelling I’d ever seen. Ghost Giant, from Zoink Games, has literally just taken storytelling into the 21st century with this incredible masterpiece.
More akin to a virtual story with puzzles than anything else, Ghost Giant beautifully recreates the art of storytelling within Virtual Reality. You’ll get to help our young protagonist complete his story and overcome any obstacles he may face which he can’t resolve on his own. Unlike Along Together, which had a similar theme, there’s no combat, no direct control, and no way to actually ‘lose’, it’s an emotional journey in which you’re invited along for the ride.
I won’t go into too much detail in regards to the story, as I know you’ll all go out and buy this title, so I don’t want to ruin any of the narrative aspects for you as the game isn’t too long at around 2-3 hours. It all begins in a similar fashion to Moss, Louis has been having a few issues at home and seemingly feels all alone in the world with nobody to help him out or offer any support. He has a mother and a few close friends, but various events have occurred which has impacted on the relationships and put an immense amount of stress and worry onto our poor little protagonist.
So, whilst out and about, suffering in silence, you appear – a giant ghost who he aptly named Ghost Giant. Seeing as Louis is the only one who can see you, you’re HIS ghost as you help him out from scene to scene as he tries to fix that which is wrong and generally overcome the darkness which is within and rebuild that which is broken. Your adventure sees you go through multiple scenes as you help Louis obtain sunflower seeds, visit a spooky graveyard, shoot some hoops, and even help out a bunch of zany characters so that he may proceed with his story. Seeing as this game comes from Zoink Games, the team behind Stick it to the Man and Flipping Death, anything other than wacky and zany NPCs just wouldn’t have been right!
Ghost Giant is an emotional story which can, unfortunately, cause your PSVR headset to spring a leak at certain points. I’ve been told that it may have been my eyes which caused such events, but why would a grown man become emotionally attached to a young cat-boy? My only negative at this point is that VR is only recommended to people 12 years or older, I feel younger kids would absolutely adore the next-level storytelling on offer, but I can’t recommend the game to anyone under that age…
The VR Aspect
I usually leave this until the end, but I thought I would switch it around. Ghost Giant is one of the clearest and most colourful VR games I’ve played so far this year. It uses a lot of the VR-only mechanics within its storytelling. See a flock of birds you need to shoo off? Simply move your head closer and shout whatever obscenities you wish at them until they go away! Want to interact with various people? Poke or slap them! Fancy interacting with almost anything? Reach out your hands and literally grab the roof of houses and rip them off, pick up cranks and turn buildings around so you can see inside, or simply move in closer and peer through the windows and take up a new profession as a Peeing Tom!
My only issue, which is most likely down to me so I won’t hold it against it, was the tracking. I found that the perfect setup I had for other games previously, whilst seated, no longer worked as there’s a set play area created around you when you hold Options to recalibrate (to avoid you going out of bounds on purpose). I found this to be a little temperamental, especially with my least favourite mechanic in the game – shooting hoops. Now, this wouldn’t have affected me but it’s a criteria for a trophy so I had to try and do it on every level. However, on one of the levels, the hoop is about seven or eight feet away and up high on a tower – every time I went to throw the ball, my hand would freeze and drop it as the game thought I was out of bounds. This was the only time I had an issue with the tracking, but I doubt I’ll get the platinum as this particular collectable frustrated me too much.
Other than the above issue, the rest of the VR effects were amazing. I was sceptical when it started up and I realised that I didn’t have direct control of the small protagonist, but my concerns were soon addressed and rectified once I moved to the next scene and started to interact with everything. If I had to match its play style to anything I’ve played in the last 12 months, I would say My Brother Rabbit from Artifex Mundi. In that, you also moved from scene to scene as you helped the protagonist move on by solving puzzles and interacting with people, even though you were never in control of them directly. However, there’s a major part of the game I’ve not talked about yet…
Ghost Giant is crammed with so many delightful puzzles to work your way through. As expected, they are all environmental puzzles, as you’re a literal giant overlooking all the tiny people down below! What I absolutely loved about the game was that it doesn’t hold your hand, yet you can get hints if you need them by going old-school and ‘Poking’ Louis. Most of the things you need to do will be rather obvious, especially if you listen in to what the various NPCs are saying to themselves about the situation. It really is a case of reaching out and grabbing various things in order to try and come up with a sensible(ish) solution to the problem you’re facing.
Let’s talk about one such puzzle. At one point, you’ll come to a house which is buried deep into the ground. Upon ripping off the wall of the top floor (which is street level), you find out that it’s occupied by a writer who can’t concentrate due to her parrot losing its special hat. Well, it didn’t lose it, it was taken by a disgruntled homeowner lower down in the crazy apartment block. So, pulling a level will raise the house from its hidey-hole so that you can forcefully rip the walls off each and every apartment in search of the thief. Once you find them, they are holding onto a key for the final house, yet they won’t let go no matter what you do. This leaves you with another predicament, how do you get the key off the guy? Simple, listen to what he’s saying by leaning in and look around for the answer…
I won’t lie, I was stumped on a few puzzles as I knew what I had to do but I couldn’t figure out HOW to do it. However, the key is – flip all the switches, rip off all the walls, press every button, Climb every mountain, Ford every stream; Follow every rainbow, Till you find your dream… okay, I think I let my mind wander for a bit there! The point is, it’s just like the interactive pop-up books I had as a child, simply interact with everything!
I can’t talk about a Zoink Games‘ game without bringing up the characters in more detail. I absolutely adore the residents within Ghost Giant. Interactions are limited, as you can only provide physical interactions by giving them a ghostly poke, yet it feels so much more interactive than that. The first thing you can do, which I thought was rather cool, yet pointless, is change their hats/give them a hat. Throughout Ghost Giant, you’ll be tasked with finding a certain number of hats, as collectables, and once you get them you can either slap them down on Louis or any of the NPCs. It really is a pointless thing to do but it can be fun and amusing at times.
The other thing I love about each of the characters stems from the games brilliant sound design. As you look at a character, other voices will become faint as the one you’re looking at comes into focus and you prioritise their voice over others. Not only that, but the game also utilises spacial sound awareness, so the closer you physically move your head to the ones talking, the louder they’ll become. Again, this isn’t really anything which was required within the game, as it could have just kept the same levels of audio based on who it wants you to listen too, but I found it so much fun to peer into peoples windows and literally listen in on what they were saying behind closed doors.
In regards to the art design, both the characters and environments are very, very well crafted. Everything is so colourful and bright (except the graveyard) and even though the game looks rather basic in places, there is a crazy amount of small details all over the place for you to look at and interact with. You’re even tasked with looking for a small caterpillar/worm-like creature on certain levels – this really gets you to move your head right in and have a look around!
As I’ve mentioned above, the visual quality is amazing, each scene is presented as a diorama-like event with you sat in the middle (able to turn via snap turning in a 180-degree position) and looking around with your head seems to have mild shutters to the sides. When you back out to the main menu, you’ll see each scene is actually presented as if it’s like a theatre show, with a cast-members mirror with lights around it as you click through the chapters you wish to play. The theatre effect is also used in the game with various scenes dimming everything but the protagonist as if he was on stage giving a dramatic speech, and a scene with was really beautiful as stars on ropes descend from the sky and… well, you’ll have to play it to find out!
The music within the Ghost Giant is very emotional and captivating as it sets the right atmosphere for each scene perfectly. The voice acting is also very well done, with each of the actors delivering a very strong performance.
The only issue I had with the VR was that blasted Basket Ball hoop on that one stage due to the tracking/play area I had. I’ll continue to try though as I know people who have got the platinum already (as there is nothing missable thanks to the chapter select), so it’s not impossible – which is why I believe it’s something on my end and not the game in general. Although, if the developers want to move that towner a bit closer, I wouldn’t object!
Ghost Giant is a must-own PSVR title, there are no two ways about it – if you own a PSVR headset, you need this game. Zonik Games have truly modernised storytelling as they not only bring interactive storytelling into the 21st century, they go even further and perfectly recreate the sense of awe and excitement through the means of Virtual Reality. Gamers, both old and young, will instantly fall in love with the beautiful art design, the awesome voice acting, the enchanting music, and the clever puzzles shoved into their eyeballs as each scene lights up for the first time. The story is also held together with the perfect pace and a very good narrative which everyone can enjoy.
So, if you’re fed up of the same genres popping up within VR over and over again, why not treat yourself to a nice relaxing story where you play as a Ghost Giant as you overlook the life of a young, helpless cat-boy.
*The digital version comes out on PSN on the 16th April, the physical edition from Perp Games (with an included Vinyl record and signed inlay for a short time) is out on the 19th April*
- - Emotional story with a brilliant narrative
- - Clever puzzles which will have you thinking
- - Insanely cute and adorable protagonist and NPCs
- - Looks amazing in VR with a nice, clear image
- - The voice acting and soundtrack is great - I wish I could afford the deluxe edition with the soundtrack!
- - I had a few issues with throwing the basketball far enough for one of the collectibles
- - VR isn't recommended for under 12s, yet under 12s will absolutly adore everything Ghost Giant has to offer!
- - My VR headset started to steam up and leak towards the end of the experience - and yes, it was the VR headset and not my eyes! 😉