Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed is the most authentic Ghostbusters experience I’ve ever played, and yet that is not quite enough. The game has been out for about a year now, but it is only just coming to the Nintendo Switch in the new Ecto Edition. The Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed Ecto Edition includes everything from the original release, plus new story levels and new ghosts to fight. This is the game’s first appearance on the Nintendo Switch, but if you owned it on other platforms they should automatically upgrade to the new edition. Unfortunately, I did not play the game at all prior to this so I cannot tell you if the gameplay has also been adjusted in any meaningful ways since launch.
At its core, Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed, is a four-versus-one PvP shooter. One person plays as the ghost and the other four as their customized ghostbusters. The selection of the ghost player is random, so it is a matter of luck of the draw and you need to get good at both sides of the game. The gameplay is about what you would expect — the busters try to trap the ghost and remove magic relics around the map, and the ghost tries to slime the busters and incite havoc — though it does seem weighted in favor of the busters overall. There isn’t much variation to this mode, and so the appeal of playing with random teammates disappeared quickly. However, in a group with four friends who aren’t taking it that seriously it becomes a great party game. There is also some side content like bounties or random story events which are primarily PvE in nature. This does mean that if you have a group of five then one person will have to drop out, which is a bit frustrating. Also keep in mind that the game does not feature split-screen play, so each person needs their own PC or console. Fortunately, it is cross-play, which takes some of the sting out of it.
As with many of these asymmetric games, your enjoyment will largely depend on luck of the draw. If you have the aforementioned friends to play with then there is no real issue, but if you look to play with random players the experience changes drastically. Long queues plagued my time with the game, and most of the players I matched with had little patience for newbies like me slowing down their game. That is not to say every person you meet is bad, but the ratio of good-to-bad players isn’t in the game’s favor. Fortunately, you can choose to play with and against bots, and experience the story beats without having to worry about finding a good team to play with. The gameplay isn’t as good — the chaos other humans bring can’t be replicated by bots — but the story is strong enough to make it work. Still, if you intend to tackle this solo you are best waiting for a sale, and don’t expect much replay value.
Going into the game I was a bit concerned that the Switch would not be able to keep up with its more powerful console and PC counterparts, but that was not the case. It certainly doesn’t look as good as other versions, and I did see some frame drops fairly routinely, but overall it was a good experience. This is bolstered by the feeling of authenticity that coats the entire game. Hanging out with the Ghostbusters from the various movie incarnations feels nice, and your customizable gear looks authentic. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they got Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson to voice Ray and Winston, respectively. The only thing missing is the iconic theme song, though my understanding is that it is currently stuck in litigation hell, so it may not the fault of the developers.
Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed Ecto Edition Review Final Thoughts:
Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed Ecto Edition made me feel like a Ghostbuster in a way no other game ever has. From a narrative perspective, it can’t compete with 2009’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game, but I feel the gameplay holds up much better. There is an authenticity to this game that permeates every aspect of it. It also provides a nice alternative to Dead By Daylight for people who want a 4v1 shooter that isn’t as gory. But, ultimately, the experience is a bit shallow, and once you’ve finished the narrative events there isn’t much left to do. It is top-notch as a party game, though, and if you can consistently get friends to join you that will extend the life of the game significantly. The game is also reasonably priced at $19.99, which I think is perfectly fair for what is on offer here. This may not be your next 500 hour game, but you’ll get your money’s worth, especially if you’ve always dreamed of blasting ghosts with your proton pack.