Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed review for Xbox Series X, PS5, PC

Platform: Xbox Series X|S
Also On: PS5, Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher: Illfonic
Developer: Illfonic
Medium: Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

When it comes to film or TV franchises that lend themselves well to 4 vs. 1 asymmetrical multiplayer games, I can think of few that fit the bill as well as Ghostbusters. It?s just naturally built into the source material, and this newest game from developer Illfonic, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, definitely proves that. It also helps that Illfonic has been able to hone their craft in the genre with prior games like Friday the 13th and Predator: Hunting Grounds, making Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed feel like a pretty polished experience right out of the gate.

While Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed isn?t a full priced, AAA style release, it?s still a solid ghostbusting experience overall. You?ll create a brand new Ghostbuster with a handful of upfront customization options, and then go on various jobs to hunt and capture ghosts across a handful of unique locations. You can opt to play alone with bots taking on the role of your team and opponent ghost, or you can hop online to play with other people. The game also features crossplay by linking your Epic account, and matchmaking has worked extremely well since launch. 

Your Ghostbuster will come equipped with a PKE meter, which will help you track down the ghost?s location, and your trusty proton pack and trap, the designs of which are culled faithfully from the films. If you?ve ever seen a Ghostbuster film, then you?ll instantly know what to do, namely spot the ghost, aim, shoot, and then when successfully tethered throw your trap and guide the ghost towards it. On paper it?s a pretty simple concept, but the enemy ghost will come equipped with various abilities to help it avoid capture, which can change depending on the ghost type you?re facing. Also, when playing as the ghost, you?ll also want to start scaring the random NPC?s scattered around the map, improving your overall haunt percentage which dictates the timer for each run. If you successfully haunt a location while avoiding capture, the match will then start to wind down, giving your opponents a limited window to capture you, or else you win the round. 

Both modes, Ghost and Ghostbuster, are pretty fun to play, enough so that I?d have a tough time narrowing down which of the two I prefer. Ghost mobility is obviously different from the Ghostbusters, allowing a lot of easy vertical movement to avoid capture, but the map layouts are such that it?s not impossible to track down and hit a flying ghost either. There?s a good push and pull feel to the way each round works, and you?re even offered multiple lives when playing as the ghost to offset the general ease of capturing a ghost once they?ve been successfully tethered. Customization unlocks and leveling up also seem to move at a brisk pace, making the reward system feel compelling, and the rounds move quick enough that you?ll likely sit and play for multiple sessions at a time. 

If you?re adverse to playing with other people online, playing with bots works well enough too. Bot A.I. won?t be nearly as challenging for either Ghost or Ghostbuster mode, but all experience earned goes towards your progression whether you play against real players or not. Also, while not the most robust tale, there is a story that plays out whether you?re playing with other people or against bots, so you?ll be able to see that regardless of your play preference. It was nice to see some returning faces in the story, and for those that enjoyed Ghostbuster: Afterlife, the events of this game pick up shortly after the film, so there?s some added continuity as well. 

Overall I found Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed to be a lot of fun, and certainly one of the better asymmetrical multiplayer games out there. It?s clear that Illfonic has started to eke out a nice niche for themselves with this type of game, and if you?ve enjoyed their previous efforts, you?ll likely have a lot of fun with this too. My only real complaint comes from the cosmetics, in that I?d like to see an even greater variety of clothing unlocks, and more outlandish options to boot considering the Ghostbusters comedic roots. Maybe we?ll get there through DLC, but the variations on the Ghostbuster jumpsuits and accessories feel a little plain out of the gate. Still, it?s a fun take on what a Ghostbuster video game can be, and the little nods to prior films, including the most recent one, will certainly appeal to franchise fans. 

Note: Illfonic provided us with a Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed Xbox Series X|S code for review purposes.

Grade: A-