Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Saber Interactive
Release Date: Oct. 4, 2019

About Andreas Salmen

I'm sure this is all just a misunderstanding.


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PS4 Review - 'Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered'

by Andreas Salmen on Oct. 17, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered delivers a unique story from Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis that captures the supernatural comedic fun and fright fans love from the franchise, which celebrates the 35th anniversary of Ghostbusters this year.

Nostalgia is an interesting feeling, and the surprise announcement of Ghostbusters: The Game Remastered just a few weeks ago played right into that. There are few old gaming franchises that have left fans wanting more, especially after the mediocre remake a few years ago. The remaster is a small glimmer of hope, since it's written and performed by the original cast, and it's widely considered to be the third movie we never got. Unfortunately, it also plays into another long-lost memory: a generic third-person shooter from the prior console generation.

If you need an introduction to Ghostbusters at this point, this title is not for you. It's a piece of fan service written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis to follow up to the events of the first two movies. An unknown entity is terrorizing New York City and triggers paranormal events at several well-known locations. There's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the Gray Lady, and a bunch of multi-colored slime variants to boot.  The title isn't afraid to use what's necessary to evoke fond memories of the original movies, and it works. It's not a masterpiece, but it has all of the cheesy one-liners from the original cast, and there are plenty of familiar faces and original voices. With this game being over 10 years old, it's as spot-on as any newly developed game in the franchise could possibly get, so the remaster feels justified.

Where it gets shaky is when we pay attention to how the game actually plays. To get the most of the voice cast, we don't control any of them. Instead, we play as a generic white dude who has conveniently lost his voice. We're a silent sidekick who's left out of the story but has to carry most the combat (more on that later). There's no personalization, and you're constantly referred to via stale and repetitive call-outs along the lines of "new guy." It's a relic of simpler times, but it's the very first time the outdated nature of the game struck me, and the feeling persisted during the six-hour campaign.

Ghostbusters is a third-person shooter — or Proton streamer? — and is reminiscent of many similar titles during that time, complete with clunky controls, linear levels with light puzzles, and increasingly tougher combat encounters. It isn't even a cover shooter, as was customary not too long ago for games of this caliber. It's formulaic, but it still has more of an identity than other similar titles, just due to its licensed look and feel. Since we're an official Ghostbuster, we have the iconic Proton Pack strapped to our back with several neat blaster modes, including the classic Proton stream (which you shouldn't cross), and you can also use it to trap ghosts and ghouls.

One of the most welcome design choices is the absence of a permanent on-screen HUD. There are a few bits of information that show up occasionally, but most persistent information is surfaced directly on our Proton Pack, such as health, selected weapon, and heat levels. When we use any weapon, we can go for a while until it gets too hot, and then we need to let it cool down before we can carry on. Health is self-explanatory, except we don't die when it's depleted. As long as another teammate is still standing, we can be reanimated or return the favor when they're down. We'll touch on this game mechanic in detail later.

Given the game's short runtime, the Proton Pack arsenal is varied enough to cover an array of use cases. For example, certain enemies covered with dark slime are weak against our green slime cannon, and fast enemies can be frozen with the right stream at the right time.

Ghosts may not disappear, so we'll need to trap and carry them with us. We have a signature trap with us at all times, and we can deploy it anywhere. Once a ghost has "expired," our stream automatically transforms into a capture stream, and the game turns into a fishing experience. Surprisingly, ghosts aren't keen on getting captured, so they need to be knocked out with timely slams into the walls, followed by threading them carefully into our small trap. Having debris flying around while glowing neon streams pierce the chaos and you slam-dunk a ghost into a small trap is not only satisfying but also one of the most reliable moments to evoke a nostalgic "Ghostbusters" feeling.

With every major combat encounter usually comes a quieter part of the stage for some downtime. These sections usually involve light puzzle-solving, such as opening doors or activating mechanisms with the slime tether, or scanning the environment for clues about how to progress. Our scanner indicates in which direction we can expect collectibles, ghosts, or points of interest. It's also used to scan ghosts and the residue that they leave behind to generate a database entry that you can read.

As the game progresses, we earn money for every defeated enemy, which we can exchange to upgrade our weapons and Proton Pack. It's not difficult to get all of upgrades; on intermediate difficulty, we managed to secure them all well before the final stage. Since Ghostbusters is the textbook definition of a linear shooter, there isn't too much room to earn more money.

The only exception are "Cursed Artifacts," which are collectibles with paranormal activity and a few cross-references to history and the film universe. They're hidden just off the beaten path but aren't too difficult to come by. We were able to grab close to 80% of them in our first playthrough with minimal additional effort. The game actively prompts you to use the scanner if you're near any interesting activity, so being close to an artifact is usually enough for the game to make you aware of something in close proximity.

The mix of gameplay elements is fun enough and well-paced, so the big-scale battles and balanced out by quiet exploration and scene-setting moments. Given the very detailed environments, spooky scripted scenes, and the serviceable original voice cast, the title often feels like a great entry that is worth your time if you're a fan. However, there are still downsides, most of which haven't aged well over the years.

The most pressing issue would be the enemy and companion AI. Your licensed team members are often useless and a liability for you. As soon as the combat begins, they'll drop like flies. The game is over if the entire four-member team is down, so you need to keep them standing so you can get through an encounter. The reality is that you'll spend most of your time actively reviving your teammates, which makes you vulnerable to enemy attacks. There were plenty of encounters where I would literally cycle through the entire team, and by the end, I needed to start all over again. It also doesn't help that your companions are sluggish if you're ever downed. Given that reviving teammates is a clunky and time-consuming action, it's an all-around frustrating experience that only gets worse as you progress. It's something that actively made me want to stop playing altogether, so if you're easily frustrated by poor game design choices, Ghostbusters may not be your cup of tea.

While that is the most frustrating part of the game, there are several other things that pull you out of the experience, such as stiff animations, a stiff dodge system, weird hit animations that briefly render you incapable of movement, and the aesthetic of a 10-year-old game. The design and attention to detail elevate that a bit, but know that this looks and feels its age. What's also a bit disappointing is that there is no multiplayer in this remastered version yet. Apparently developer Saber Interactive plans to add it in a free update later on, but for now, this version only includes the classic campaign.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered is a double-edged sword. It does a lot of things right with the story and atmosphere, but the gameplay is mediocre to good, with many flaws around the companion AI, which often ruins the experience. Since the fun multiplayer component of the original release isn't included yet, this game is only for serious fans of the movie or the original game.

Score: 6.5/10

More articles about Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered
blog comments powered by Disqus