Title: Ghost Giant
Publisher: Zoink, Perp Games
Genre: Puzzle Story Game
Available On: Oculus Quest and PSVR
Official Site: mediatonicgames
Release Date: April 16th, 2019
Ghost Giant is a wonderful game. Given what the world is going through right now, Ghost Giant offers a beautiful heartfelt escape and a reflective piece on mental health, or perhaps none of those. It has some issues which I will elaborate on, but this is a game you want to play with as few spoilers as possible. This is where the real magic happens.
What is Ghost Giant?
Ghost Giant starts out fairly simple. You are the titular “Ghost Giant” pleasantly drifting in a lake under you stumble upon Louis, an 11-year-old kitten from the town of Sancourt. Naturally enough, he’s scared of you as you presumably fling things around to see what the game allows you to do.
The game perpetually plays with this sense of scale well. Why wouldn’t a tiny kitten be scared of a huge blue ghost capable of throwing objects around? Why should you take him seriously? Do adults always know better? You, as the ghost giant, can have such a massive impact on Louis’ life, but what happens when you can’t do anything? It plays with this sense of scale to great effects, occasionally entirely changing the way you see the story around you.
This is what makes Ghost Giant work so well. The narrative isn’t some tacked-on addition to the central gameplay; it is well thought out and could work just as well in a storybook or short story. Initially, the main pieces you need to know are Louis and his Mum lives alone. They are creative and musical, and their main business is growing sunflowers.
Unfortunately, with the mother not currently around and the sunflowers wilting, you and Louis must attempt to make them grow again. There are multiple other pieces to this, but this is all you need to know to start. Ghost Giant’s story is absolutely worth checking out for yourself. Swedish writer Sara Bergmark Elfgren has somehow made a story that works on multiple levels.
How does Ghost Giant’s story work?
It’s a cute Disney-like story about a giant helping a kitten, it’s a lovely and sad story about depression and that you can’t just do something nice and expect it to end. It is also a story loaded with a sense of existentialism with references to Beauvoir and Baudelaire. All of these can be true. There’s a chance none of them are.
This is what makes Ghost Giant’s narrative work so well. Wonderful poetry between the lines. Its references and narrative work silently in the background for most of the title. What is in the foreground is the motif of Claud Debussy’s “Clair De Lune”. This beautiful contemporary piece adds nicely to Ghost Giant’s brilliant soundtrack.
With no exaggeration, Ghost Giant may have one of my favorite gaming soundtracks of this entire generation. When it needs to be, it has a minimalist piano in the style of Debussy, but it doesn’t end here.
It features swelling violins, light xylophone, and a beautiful accordion over a variety of styles and tempos. These range from the Disney-like, “and so the days go by” to the wonderfully solemn “by the lake“. Even if you don’t like the look of the game itself, both the story and music are absolutely worth looking into.
How does it look?
Furthermore, its art style fits the music to a tee. In contrast, the combination of visuals and music often hides the actual depth of the narrative. Hearing Louis lie to himself about his family, neighbors, and friends is heartbreaking and far more mature than one might give Ghost Giant credit for.
Unfortunately, this moves us to Ghost Giant’s greatest and worst part, its gameplay. At its core, Ghost Giant is a puzzle game where you are almost part of the puzzle. You sit directly in the middle of a large set-piece. As you acclimate and see what’s around you, you start to see all the pieces moving. Different animals interacting, houses are glowing, and Louis is moving.
The puzzles often involve searching for pieces to hand Louis or peaking into houses to set a domino-like combination of effects. This works in varying degrees. It is occasionally tedious, but at it’s best, it works very well. One stand out puzzle was that of painters in the street blocking your way. In order to get through, you must use an easel, a mop, and the natural color that exists all around you to draw something truly special. It’s a hotdog. You draw a hotdog.
Unfortunately, the worst side of this is also accompanied by mediocre-at-best controls. You are encouraged to stand/sit still in Ghost Giant and reach around you, but unfortunately, a decent amount of your objectives are too far out of reach to comfortably reach both sides of you without the controls messing up. If the entire field of view were shorter, this problem wouldn’t be as bad, but it’s often too far to have a smooth experience. This is the single biggest let down in Ghost Giant. The next VR model could be better, but this is what we have as of right now
Overall, Ghost Giant is a truly magical experience, often evoking a mix of pure joy and sudden sadness. It is empathetic, intelligent, and all-round lovely. If you liked the similarly lovely Moss, You’ll love this. As we only give reviews in full stars, it would be criminal to give Ghost Giant a four. While it is occasionally held back by the limits of PSVR, it is worth trudging through that for Zoink’s crowning achievement to date.
- Wonderful Story
- Great Music
- Lovely Visuals
- Limited by the PSVR