GDC 2019 Hands-On IMPRESSIONS: Ghost Giant

Monday, April 1st, 2019

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Ghost Giant | Logo

Publisher(s): Perp Games (Physical); Thunderful Games (Digital)
Platform(s): PlayStation VR
Release Date(s): April 16, 2019 (Digital)/April 19, 2019 (Physical)
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It isn’t often that I get to check out a video game fairly early on in its development and then as it gets extremely close to release. Fortunately, I was able to check out one of my favorite games from E3 2018, Ghost Giant, at GDC 2019 in the few weeks before it comes out for PlayStation VR and see how things have progressed. During my hands on Ghost Giant demo, I was able to explore portions of levels one, four, and seven. With this hands-on impressions piece, I am going to deliberately avoid spoiling more than just a basic outline of the story, as this is clearly something that the player will want to head into with no pre-conceived plot ideas.

Ghost Giant‘s story starts off fairly simple: You play as a giant ghost, and you meet Louis, who is also the only one who can see you. A friendship quickly develops between the two of you, and you help him solve VR-style point-and-click puzzles while Louis interacts with you and the world as the bond between you and Louis grows closer and closer. The world of Ghost Giant is a gorgeous, storybook-like atmosphere that involves a city, a forest, a farm, and more. While it does not appear from my Ghost Giant demo that there is any sort of VR locomotion, each level is gorgeously detailed in the almost-roomscale sedentary place you are placed in as Louis’ ‘ghost friend’. That said, this doesn’t hurt the game as I am fairly certain that I spent more time poking my head into each and every nook-and-cranny I could just to see all the little artistic details that breathe life into this world than I would have if I could freely move around.

Ghost Giant | Characters

There are a variety of characters that Louis (top image, bottom row, third from right) will interact with in Ghost Giant. (Images courtesy of Zoink Games).

Ghost Giant | Characters

The puzzles in Ghost Giant, from my demo, were not too tough or obtuse to solve (I’m looking at you, Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure). Instead of doing puzzles for the sake of doing puzzles, Ghost Giant integrates the puzzles into moving the storyline forward and building your relationship with Louis. This blending of gaming elements is what makes Ghost Giant truly work as a game, and is what makes me want to push a little bit further with each level of the demo I played.

Ghost Giant | Sunflower picking

The various interactive and puzzle elements in Ghost Giant, such as picking the sunflowers here, all play directly into the storyline’s progression. (Image courtesy of Zoink Games).

The biggest change to this build of Ghost Giant, which also happens to be a brilliant solution to a common problem in VR, is how they have handled cutscenes. In the prior E3 2018 build, cutscenes would just play out in the world and you would be free to watch or ignore them as you like, due to VR being…well…VR and the game not being able to force you to look at a particular place. The fact that the player could ignore the cutscenes meant that the story frequently can fall to the wayside in a clear frustration of the developer’s work. What Ghost Giant does is that in VR cutscenes where there are also a lot of other distractions involves a simple fix: the entire world is almost completely darkened and a spotlight is thrown upon where the cutscene takes place. This ensures that the player has almost no choice but to pay attention to what the developer wants them to. This single change puts the story in Ghost Giant into central focus at all times and ensures that the player won’t miss out on anything important.

Ghost Giant | Farm

Ghost Giant | Harbour

Each level in Ghost Giant takes place in an area that has gorgeous-storybook-like qualities to them. (Images courtesy of Zoink Games).

Ghost Giant isn’t just a game, it is art. I was charmed by the game the first time I played, and I fell in love with it all over again when I was able to see various parts of it after they were polished up and improved upon. Interacting with Louis, and watching Louis interact with the various other citizens of the world, is a treat and I found myself laughing at the dialogue more than once. When Ghost Giant releases for PlayStation VR on April 16, 2019 (physical editions come out just three days later), I will be buying it just to see what all this magical world has in store.



Update: Since this article was originally published, the name of the publisher has been corrected to ‘Perp Games.’ and ‘Thunderful Games’.

What do you think of Ghost Giant? Are you as excited as I am to be picking it up in just a few days?

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

Likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. And video games. Cannot forget those video games. Anime too. Should not forget that either.