Ghost Giant Review

Big Mood
Developer: Zoink Studios Publisher: Zoink Studios Platforms: PlayStation VR

The best VR experiences are the ones that wouldn't work any other way, and Ghost Giant is a perfect example of how that applies to narrative in games

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again; Zoink Games consistently put out good shit. With titles like Stick It To The Man, Flipping Death, and the absolutely lovely Fe, the studio can seemingly do no wrong (in my eyes). I have to say though, when I heard that their next big effort, Ghost Giant, would be a PlayStation VR exclusive I wasn’t sure what to expect. VR games for me can be pretty hit-or-miss, with concessions made to suit the platform sometimes really watering down the experience. Zoink’s games are largely packed with charm, humour and great characters and I worried that’d be lost in gimmicky arm-flailing and dodgy tracking.

I’m happy to report that they’ve only gone and knocked it out of the bloody park.

Ghost Giant is the story of an anthropomorphic cat-thing named Louis, who lives on a farm with his mother. She’s struggling though, and so Louis is doing his best to make things work on his own. That’s when he meets the Ghost Giant, an enormous ephemeral being of unknown origin that might just be the helping hand(s) that Louis needs. As the Ghost Giant, it’s up to the player to guide Louis through a series of scenes, each a gorgeous diorama by proxy of a papercraft puppet show. Through a dozen-odd chapters totalling a short couple of hours, Louis’ story takes him around the town of Sancourt as he interacts with its denizens and learns that it’s okay to ask for help. I wasn’t expecting the game to touch on some heavy mental health-type stuff, but it does, and in a way that is wonderfully wholesome.

With a Move controller in each hand, you’ll poke, pull, pinch and prod the many objects and characters in each scene, either solving simple environmental puzzles or just watching events play out. Played from a fixed position, the T-buttons and triggers on each of the controllers are used to either poke or grab, and the O and X buttons move the giant’s view across three set angles. Everything you do, whether it’s peeling open the walls of buildings to see what’s going on inside or mashing bits of scrap together to make a giant flashlight, is intuitive and logical. Puzzles are fairly easy, but they’re fun to execute and always fit the tone of the scene perfectly, and I never felt lost or frustrated. There were only a handful of times that I had to fight the PlayStation Camera’s limited tracking when trying to reach for something very low or very high up.

Where Ghost Giant succeeds the most is in its well-told and very human story (despite its cast of animals). Without going into too much detail, Louis’ tale, and the nature and result of his interactions with the citizens of his home town, really landed with me. Not just because of the immaculate presentation, which is vibrant, full of life and packed with charm and imagination. Not just thanks to the fantastic voice acting and beautiful score, either. It all just comes together wonderfully without a single lull. This might be Zoink’s strongest overall package to date, and for it to exist in the VR space, where it has to work extra hard to make a case for itself, is truly impressive. More than a quirky curiosity, Ghost Giant might just be a killer app.

Final Thoughts

Ghost Giant is hard to talk about without spoiling too much of the story or gameplay, but I can say unequivocally that it is magical. It takes great advantage of the VR platform too, with the only real issue being that not everyone has a VR to experience it. This might be my new favourite Zoink game.

Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro // Review code supplied by publisher

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Ayyy

Good

  • Beautiful presentation
  • Satisfyingly simple and logical puzzles
  • Heartfelt, sensitive story
  • Charming and well-acted dialogue

Bad

  • Short-ish
9

Bloody Ripper

Kieron started gaming on the SEGA Master System, with Sonic the Hedgehog, Alex Kidd and Wonder Boy. The 20-odd years of his life since have not seen his love for platformers falter even slightly. A separate love affair, this time with JRPGs, developed soon after being introduced to Final Fantasy VIII (ie, the best in the series). Further romantic subplots soon blossomed with quirky Japanese games, the occasional flashy AAA action adventure, and an unhealthy number of indie gems. To say that Kieron lies at the center of a tangled, labyrinthine web of sexy video game love would be an understatement.
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