Ghostbusters (iOS) review
Ghostbusters is a new iOS game from Capcom offshoot studio Beeline Interactive. The game is available now as a free download from the App Store, and is currently enjoying a feature spot as an Editor’s Choice app on the store front page. The game features the option for in-app purchases of various currencies and resources, and prominently warns the player of this on its first run.
Ghostbusters for iOS is not directly based on the popular movies. Instead, it casts the player in the role of an overseer to a gaggle of rookie ghost hunters, initially mentored by a rather cartoonish Dr Venkman. Once the initial tutorial is passed, it is up to the player to work their way through the game’s content at their own pace, and there is a wide variety of things to do.
The game’s long-term goal is to climb a 50-storey tower and defeat whatever great evil is amassing at the top of it, but upon exploring the tower the rookie Busters find their progress repeatedly blocked by walls of slime. Apparently the only way to get rid of slime is with more slime, which must be collected through taking on smaller Busting jobs around the city, each of which costs a portion of the player’s energy to participate in. Busting jobs also provide players with ghost specimens, which can be researched back at the Ghostbusters headquarters, and soft currency, which can be used to purchase new equipment or hire new team members.
Upon taking on a Busting job, the game screen switches to a side-on combat view where the team of Busters must weaken and capture enough ghosts to clear the area without suffering defeat themselves. Ghosts are captured by weakening them using weapons and then tapping on them to trap them before an on-screen timer expires. Rather than combat unfolding automatically as in so many mobile games of this type, however, players have a degree of tactical control over their team via a “tap and drag” control scheme somewhat reminiscent of games like Triniti Interactive’s Heroes vs Monsters and Mika Mobile’s Battleheart.
Tapping and dragging a character to an empty space on screen causes them to move; tapping and dragging to an enemy causes them to attack. Each character has their own specialisms — some deal damage to the ghost; others attract their attention with slime, taking the pressure off the damage dealers; others still have healing capabilities. Essentially, the player is encouraged to adopt an MMO-style “tank and spank” approach to combat, with a single strong character attracting the ghost’s attention and taking the brunt of the damage while they are healed and another Buster handles the bulk of damage-dealing. Characters also have various strong special abilities that charge up over time, and leveling up characters through successful Busting missions improves their abilities and unlocks new skills — though character advancement is capped until special “manual” items are found in the tower. This helps prevent the player “over-leveling” the game’s challenges.
Outside of Busting, the player can manage their Ghostbusters franchise from their fire station headquarters. From here, they can purchase new team members and equipment, review details on the ghosts they have captured to date, and perform research to unlock new equipment and abilities. Research takes time but may be accelerated using the “Power Core” hard currency; alternatively, the player’s device will send them a push notification when time is up, even if the app is closed.
Ghostbusters is a good game, on the whole, though it carries the risk of becoming somewhat repetitive over time, and several App Store reviewers have complained of hitting an expensive “paywall” a few hours in to the experience. The game clearly has plenty of content to work through, however — getting to the top of the tower will take most players quite a long time, and in the meantime there are plenty of research items to unlock and ghosts to capture. There’s also great potential for the game to expand in the future — perhaps through additional “campaigns” that follow the tower mission for high-level players.
One prominent omission from the game is the lack of any social features whatsoever. While the game is obviously primarily designed as a single-player free-to-play experience, it would have perhaps been fun for players to have the option to temporarily “hire” their friends’ Buster characters for a fee, such as was seen in the now-defunct Facebook game Dragon Age Legends. There is also scope for large-scale cooperative events such as battles against iconic series villains like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man or Zuul, but there is no sign of any such feature at present.
Ghostbusters is a good game off to a solid start, then, but it will need some updates over time in order to keep it fresh in the minds of its player base. Going by Beeline’s past titles such as Smurfs’ Village, it is highly likely that the developer will continue to expand the game over time, but whether or not it adds any game-changing mechanics such as social connectivity remains to be seen.
Ghostbusters is currently ranked at No. 13 in Top Free Apps, No. 3 in Top Free iPad Apps, No. 8 in Top Free Games and No. 3 in Top Free iPad Games. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.
A good, fun adaptation of a venerable IP.