E3 2018 Hands-On: Ghost Giant Is A Charming Puzzle Game About Friendship

by David Jagneaux • June 20th, 2018

Ghost Giant was one of the lucky few PSVR games that got some of the spotlight on Sony’s official PlayStation Blog a few days before E3 actually kicked off. Since we knew about the title going in, we had some idea about what to expect, and for the most part it met our expectations.

When we first saw Ghost Giant, we had initially assumed it’d be a bit more fast-paced and blend puzzle elements with platforming segments, sort of like Turbo Button’s Along Together. What we found out at E3, though, is that it’s shaping up to actually be a pure puzzle game for the most part.

The premise of Ghost Giant is that you are a large, lumbering ghost that only the main character can see. During our demo we got to meet him, a small cat boy named Louis, for the very first time. He’s walking along in his village and is hounded by bullies. Once he notices the player he cowers in fear and it’s up to you to convince him to give you a chance at being his friend. It’s a cute interaction and the voice acting is well done.

He runs away to go hide in his room, which then kicks off the puzzle part of the experience. His door is locked and you’ve got to figure out how to get inside so that you can prove you’re not scary. Never mind the fact that breaking and entering is, in and of itself, a bit scary. It feels like an odd beginning to a friendship, but without seeing the full story in context it’s hard to cast judgement.

I don’t want to overtly spoil too much even if it is an early game puzzle, but what you’ve got to do involves searching the environment (and I mean really leaning down, craning your neck, and looking around) for ways to manipulate things. You can pick up and move items in the world, spin buildings around, and interact with characters using indirect methods. For example, switching channels on an old man’s TV to something boring might cause him to fall asleep and drop what he’s holding.

Generally speaking a good puzzle game will give you everything you need to figure things out without getting lost or confused for too long. Patience and attention to detail are key of course, but things should present themselves readily if you’re actively engaged. I’m a little worried the puzzles in Ghost Giant may end up being needlessly vague or obtuse. During my brief demo a developer needed to guide me a bit more than once because it just wasn’t clear what I was meant to be doing. Whether it was bad clue placement, poor visual indications, or just unclear level layouts.

Once you get through to Louis though, the charm shines through again. All the little design hiccups faded away when he smiled at me for the first time.

Near the end of the demo the bullies return and there’s a cute moment where I scare them off by manipulating a fake ghost toy to represent my actual giant ghost self. Once the demo was over I came away surprised with just how unique the diorama-style cities and puzzle-heavy gameplay felt, but I’m still skeptical the actual content will be compelling and intuitive enough to enjoy. Zoink has a great track record as a developer recently (Fe and Flipping Death are stand outs,) so I’ll remain cautiously optimistic.

Ghost Giant does not currently have a publicly announced release date, but my gut tells me we’ll be getting this game in 2018 and won’t have to wait too long. When I asked a developer from Zoink about other headsets, such as mobile or PC VR, they were coy about details but didn’t shut down the idea of it coming to other platforms later on.

Let us know what you think about Ghost Giant down in the comments below!

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