How do you make games like Phasmophobia and Prop Hunt better? Why you stitch them together in a Frankenstein-esque attempt to create a miracle and spit in the face of God. At least, that’s what Vaulted Sky Games, the developers of Midnight Ghost Hunt, would tell you. And I’ll be damned, but they might actually have the style to pull it off. Available through Steam’s Early Access, the ambitious title does a lot to stack up to the experience of the gaming titans it’s riffing from. Sure, there are some rough spots, but this game does a LOT with its concept.
Who you gonna call? Midnight Ghost Hunters! Yeah, that doesn’t sound right…
I’ll tell you right off the bat that this is a game that you should be playing with friends. Much like prop hunt and Phasmophobia before it, Midnight Ghost Hunt is one of those games that – while it can be played with strangers – really comes to life when it is played with company.
That itself isn’t really an issue, just something you should know going in. I love Phasmophobia and get together with my friends to play it all the time. So when I saw Midnight Ghost Hunt, I knew it was something that I was going to have to play. Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed the experience.
So if you’re excited to give it a try, or you have and you enjoyed it too, go ahead and drop a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
In Midnight Ghost Hunt, you play as one of two teams of four pitted against each other: the ghosts and the hunters. As the team names – and, in fact, the name of the entire game – might suggest the hunters are trying to hunt down the ghosts. The ghosts, on the other hand, do their best to stay hidden by possessing items and trying to blend in.
It should. The start of this is very Prop Hunt, but don’t worry Vaulted Sky Games have a lot more up their sleeves and we’re only just getting started. Building on the foundation of hunters chasing props… uh… I mean ghosts, Midnight Ghost Hunt gives its players some fun new tools to make the experience a little more exciting.
My First Game
So knowing what I did about the game, and having just finished the charming tutorial, I was super excited to start my first game. So I hopped onto quick play, found a match and jumped right in.
I was excited – in particular – to play as a ghost and to my delight, I was immediately matched with a ghost team. I was pumped. When I finally loaded in, I quickly found a great spot to hide and took on the form of an innocuous wheelchair in a hospital hallway.
I was so confident in my disguise, in fact, that I decided to hold my ground when a hunter turned up at the other end of the hallway. I was, of course, immediately killed. But I was determined to do better and there was a lot to learn. The importance of Ectoplasm buildup had, of course, been driven home by that kind hunter in my first game. But in the few games since, I had also learned about most of the basic game mechanics:
- Ectoplasm would slowly build up when you stay still as a ghost and makes it easier for hunter equipment to find you.
- Possession was how ghosts could hide inside objects. Plus it allowed them to fling those objects – and themselves – at hunters to fight back.
- Shoving was useful to help hunters check if an object was possessed.
- Pinging was a useful way to quickly highlight a suspected ghost, especially when playing with strangers online.
- Changing your loadout was the best way to customize your gameplay and react to the changes in the game. In particular, changing equipment as a hunter was useful.
My First Midnight
Midnight is one of the core mechanics in Midnight Ghost Hunt and it’s obviously important, being the namesake of the entire game. At the start of every round there are five minutes on the clock until midnight strikes. Don’t ask me why the Hunters always wait until 11:55 pm to start hunting, that’s just how it is.
Midnights aren’t enormously common, but they can be very interesting.
A few games into my experience with Midnight Ghost Hunt I ran into my first Midnight, and by this point I’d learned quite a bit. In this game, I was a hunter, and my team was in trouble. We’d managed to take out and vacuum up a couple of ghosts, but the ghost had killed a couple of us too and we were running out of time to find the last ghosts.
I had just recently discovered the joy that is the Spectrometer which was really where the Phasmophobia-like elements of the game shone through. So, I was hard at work chasing down one of the last two ghosts when Midnight struck.
Suddenly, all of the ghosts were back, and they had a power boost too. Unfortunately for me, I was close to finding my quarry when this power boost happened. They quickly killed me off, leaving my last teammate to fight off four powered-up ghosts; a fight that they lost valiantly.
My First “Real” Win
So, obviously, as I was learning to play, I ended up on the winning team every now and then. However, the first time I won without being completely carried came a little while after the story of my first Midnight.
I was playing on the ghost team and at this point I had put together a little team to play Midnight Ghost Hunt with. Teamwork truly is important to this game, particularly when you combine your abilities as ghosts and that really shone through during this game.
Using the corruptor ability, I could make random objects explosive to damage hunters, which was useful by itself. But when my teammates added the telekinesis and poltergeist abilities, the synergy became truly deadly.
Our plan turned out to be very effective and we didn’t even make it to midnight before all the hunters were dead. Something I was arguably far too proud of.
Graphics & Audio
Midnight Ghost Hunt is a game that has the potential for some truly beautiful visuals. I saw them shine through often while I was playing. However, in almost every aspect the visuals fall a little short of becoming truly beautiful. Instead, they become almost irksome in their shortfalls.
The game automatically set my graphical settings to Ultra. But it still had issues with stuttering and frame drops regardless of the setting. While this is an optimization issue that could be addressed during continued development, it was not the best introduction to the game to run into stuttering in the first five minutes of play.
During my time with Midnight Ghost Hunt I was playing on PC – currently the only way to play – but it is worth noting that different systems can run into issues while playing games that are difficult to predict or understand. These issues are rare, and it is far more likely that the issues I ran into were a result of insufficient optimization for the game, but be sure to take just a pinch of salt with my experiences here.
The sound design of Midnight Ghost Hunt – however – was an absolute treat. The voice acting – despite not being a main element of the game – was absolutely wonderful, with crisp, well-recorded dialogue, particularly in the ghost and hunter tutorials. Happily, important elements like the sound effects and music followed this trend of quality too.
The music was a wonderful companion to the gameplay. It provides tension to the ghosts and urgency to the hunters as both played a deadly game of hide and seek. However, when the hunters find a ghost in hiding, that’s where the audio truly comes to life.
The sound effects really start to come into play when the ghosts and hunters start to duke it out. The haunting rush of ethereal energy as a ghost bursts from its hiding place and rushes to another. The energetic whirr of a Spectral Cannon firing a deadly burst of plasma toward a hiding ghost. The crunch of impact as a tombstone slams into a hunter’s skull. Each sound captures the experience it is replicating beautifully, which completely elevated the experience of the game.
Realistically, the longevity of Midnight Ghost Hunt is something that will vary from player to player. If you are the kind of player who can play Prop Hunt and Phasmophobia endlessly, then this is probably something that you can get a lot of mileage out of. Particularly if you love the competitive element in those games. The rush of a win can often carry the right players from game to game. If that’s you, then this game should be near the top of your to-play list. The gameplay loop is solid, and you’ll have hours of fun, especially if you can put a good team together.
However, if you’re a player that craves variation, development, and plot from your games, Midnight Ghost Hunt isn’t for you. It’s certainly something you could break out for a few hours with friends. In fact, that’s probably the best way to play it. But you’re never going to get that story itch scratched by playing this game.
Personally, I’m a story-driven gamer at heart, but I keep coming back to Midnight Ghost Hunt. I play it very similarly to how I play Phasmophobia, a couple of rounds every few days. In fact, I’ve already added it to the list of games that my friends and I cycle through. I might not rack up the hours quite as quickly as I do with games like Dragon Age or Mass Effect, but I’m sure I’ll be playing Midnight Ghost Hunt for years to come.
Looking at Midnight Ghost Hunt, I can tell you that it is a genuinely entertaining and enjoyable game. If you want to kick back with a handful of friends, then this game is a brilliant option. I certainly had a blast while I was playing, even with its issues.
I’m sure I’ll be going back for more before long too, which is why I’m happy to award Midnight Ghost Hunt a Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: I received a code in order to review this product.