By Shaan Khan (17/08/21)
As many of us gawp at our screens of numbers, text, and spreadsheets in this non-fantastical world we live in, sometimes we need a little escapism, to take a ride into the fictional realm. Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered (PC) offers an unmatched world in the universe of paranormal fantasy.
In this third-person, action-adventure game, you’ve got a giant marshmallow man reaping havoc on the NY streets, warfare defined not by bullets & torpedoes but protons & slime. Finally, the heroes, who are there to save the day, are a group of four fully grown adults, kitted out in gear that a geriatric lady could easily mistake as the bug exterminators she phone called to get rid of that roach in her kitchen. Sorry Lady, that’s not the ‘something strange, in your neighbourhood’ that the ghostbusters were referring to in the advertisement song.
An Endearing Piece of Nostalgia
Tabbing into the game is akin to travelling back in time; I felt like a kid again with the retro introduction screen of the Columbia Pictures logo from all the 80s & 90s movies. There’s a trip down memory lane on each level, from landmarks like the infamous HQ loaded with clever easter eggs sure to make you grin and the gadgets and ghosts from the original movies that inspired kids’ Halloween costumes for decades.
You live out many people’s childhood dreams going on a journey with the original ghostbusters cast as a Rookie, being subjected to the team’s quick wit and science talk just as you remembered it from the classic movies.
You are part of the gang with your kaki overalls and proton pack, but what do the writers and game devs have in store for you in this 8-hour-long storyline?
The Sublime Blend of Storytelling and Game Design
Movies adapted into video games are synonymous with being executed cheaply, trying to make a quick buck off popular movie franchises by slapping its image onto an easily made, low-effort game that the original fanbase will flock to.
It was everything wrong with the Ghostbusters game that came out in 2016, a derivative top-down shooter that used the same old formula of most games in the genre but threw in Ghostbuster assets instead.
Rather than starting with a generic game design template, Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered (PC) has the story at the heart of development, while the game design is used to capture and build out the writer’s vision from the ground up.
Every level stands apart from the rest and are packed with hidden surprises that make each piece of the branching map memorable. It has that movie touch; when you’re on the run in the NY streets or sneaking around in a library, the attention-to-details towards scripting timed events wherever you are is what makes levels realistic and contextual. What turns a library into a spooky library, but then will find time to make you laugh with a funny event or dialogue involving Venkman. It’s always Venkman.
That’s what Ghostbusters is all about; one moment your phasmophobia kicks in, the next, you have the Ghostbusters team reminding you how comically absurd this all is. There’s a range of emotion felt from this game thanks to clever writing, coding, and visual art all at play.
Not many fiction worlds produce characters quite as creepy and cute at the same time as Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
While having the game feel like an immersive movie is cool and all, it doesn’t tip the scale of being an overly scripted experience that reduces gameplay to a walking simulator where you barely are involved in the action.
The game is tactical; you must figure out the patterns of projectiles from both your enemies and team members and position yourself on the map accordingly. The highest form of this gameplay is the boss battles that offer unique challenges that you can tackle with several weapon upgrades and fire modes on the proton pack. Picture it as a lite-Returnal experience that doesn’t drive you as crazy with all the restarts!
Unlike games where your NPC team are simply bullet-sponges in combat, the Ghostbusters squad will revive your a** in sticky situations and vice versa. You must coordinate with them as you would with an online team similar to games like Back 4 Blood or COD Zombies.
What makes the gameplay style unique to the modern shooters is that you are trapping and capturing ghosts with your proton pack. There’s something satisfying about vacuuming your enemies as opposed to spraying bullets at them like almost every other game in the genre, and the only game with a similar premise is Phasmophobia, another beloved PC game with fans that should play this Ghostbusters game if their itching for a paranormal battle.
Remastered versus Original
Updating the textures into HD resolution makes the game fit for modern screens. Still, it’s this subtle upgrade to details that boost the cinematic feel, making it closer to capturing the movie magic of the Ghostbusters franchise than any other game.
An issue in the original video game was poor lip-syncing and the stiff bodies of the characters, also the lack of definition and detail in their physical appearances. The remastered version addresses some of this to bring the ghostbusters closer to how you remembered them in the 80s & 90s theatres.
Sadly, some cutscenes have not been updated into HD, possibly due to the game devs missing files from the original game, so sometimes you will be entering uncanny valley as you progress through the story.
Despite the cinematic touch-up, not much has been added to immersion. Lighting and shadows are just as realistic as before; you still sense that shift in feeling going between light and dark spots in the game, where exploring a shady room builds fear and suspense then entering a lit corridor afterwards where the gang reside, makes you take a sigh of relief—the game nailed that sensation for me.
Oh, and those deep shadows that form under the eyes of Stay Puft as he glares at you is even creepier in 4K.
The colourful lights resonating off the gadgets, weapons, and projectiles pop more in higher resolution and capture my awe as they did in the movies.
All in all, this is no Grade A remaster as seen with the Resident Evil franchise that showcases the original games in an entirely new light. There’s not much between the two Ghostbusters as the 2009 game still holds its weight graphically to some modern games in its genre. You could even argue that they should have just kept the original game since at least it had a multiplayer mode unlike this remastered version!
The first thought that comes to mind when I think about this game is nostalgia. If Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered (PC) was a retro ice cream, it would be a screwball. Where the bulk of raspberry ripple ice cream encompassing the top layer of the plastic cone is akin to the flavoursome graphics and gameplay of vibrant slimes and protons wafting through the air in battle. Whereas deep at the bottom of the screwball is its cylinder heart of a gumball; the one-of-a-kind writing at the core of the game that the true 80s Ghostbusters franchise is renowned for.
This is the Ghostbusters 3 that fans wanted. The dedication of the original movie writers and cast members all involved in this project has saved it from being a cash grab. It has made it the only Ghostbusters game that I would comfortably recommend to fans of the franchise due to its authenticity.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered (PC) is the last breath of life of the classic Ghostbusters many have come to love. Now it passes its spiritual torch to the upcoming movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Please don’t suck like the 2016 reboot.
- Environmental art
- Boss battles
- Tactical & coordinated gameplay
- Fairly priced
- Lack of customisability
- No Co-op mode in a game where cooperating with a team’ matters
- The storyline is too short compared to similar video games
- No multiplayer.
- Barely a remaster
List of Levels
- Hotel Sedgewick
- Times Square
- Public Library
- History Museum
- Return to Sedgewick
- Shandor Island
- Central Park
- Storage: 24 GB available storage
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT 630
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Processor: Intel i3
- OS: Windows 7 (64-bit)
- Storage: 24 GB available storage
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 670
- Memory: 6 GB RAM
- Processor: Intel Core i5-4690
- OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)