Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed review – Bustin' makes me feel good

A fun, hilarious paranormal romp made dramatically better with friends.

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Windows Central Verdict

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed immerses players into the treasured universe of paranormal extermination like never before. The moment-to-moment gameplay is nothing short of enchanting, and the emphasis on authentic squad-based ghostbusting stands as the best video game interpretation we've been treated to so far. However, the fun is dictated entirely by the number of friends you play with.

Pros

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    + Incredible presentation

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    + Engaging gameplay

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    + Impressive production value

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    + Thoughtful character creation

Cons

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    Mediocre AI

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    Limited maps and modes

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Asymmetrical multiplayer horror is hot right now. Players and developers seem keen on sharing scares with friends, from recently released standouts such as Evil Dead: The Game to upcoming adaptations of beloved franchises like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Killer Klowns from Outer Space. For fans of paranormal investigations, another multiplayer-centric horror title is right around the corner – Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed.  

I've spent the last several days charging up my proton pack, containing ghastly entities with my squad, and wreaking absolute havoc as a host of mischievous ghosts. It's no secret that I'm an enormous fan of this currently booming sub-genre, so I went into Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed excited to see Illfonic's fresh PvP take on the iconic Ghostbusters series. While it's abundantly clear that this team understands and adores the source material, they also delivered a refreshingly fun and hilarious experience.   

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is a clever amalgamation of gameplay ideals from contemporaries like Phasmophobia, Dead by Daylight, and Friday the 13th. It embraces the quirky, comedic roots of the franchise while incorporating essential ghostbusting gadgets. The PKE Meter and Particle Thrower scream with authenticity, and the attention to established details from the universe makes the title a genuine delight for fans. The overall content package is a little light, but Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is pure, unadulterated multiplayer joy.

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by Xbox codes provided by Illfonic. The developer did not see the contents of this review before publication. 

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed – What you'll like 

(Image credit: Windows Central)

From visual and nostalgic standpoints, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is superb. The game opens inside Ray's Occult shop with Raymond Stantz, voiced by Dan Akroyd, detailing the current paranormal situation in New York City. Following this captivating cutscene, players are unleashed to explore the arcane gift shop and the legendary Ghostbusters firehouse headquarters conveniently located next door.   

Ray's Occult bursts with carefully constructed artifacts, ominous neon lighting, and endless character. Stunning reflections on glossy surfaces elevate the overall presentation of Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed and provide ample reasons to gawk at the spectacular scenery. The firehouse also receives the same fan-centric fixations, with prominent props like the Ecto-1 modified hearse shining brilliantly in the primary gathering room. As someone who recently rewatched Ghostbusters 1 and 2, the number of easter eggs contained within the title is euphorically staggering.  

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CategoryGhostbusters: Spirits Unleashed
DeveloperIllfonic
PublisherIllfonic
GenreHorror
Install Size11.81 GB
Players1-5
Playtime10+ hours
Release DateOctober 18, 2022
Price$40
PlatformsXbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, PS4, PS5
Xbox Game PassNo
Reviewed on Xbox Series X

While I could spend thousands of words describing the hundreds of meaningful objects, locales, and decorations plastering the walls of Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, many of you probably want to know how the game plays. After all, what are remarkable visuals without engaging gameplay to back them up? Thankfully, Illfonic captured the essence of ghostbusting and haunting with superb moment-to-moment gameplay for both humans and otherworldly entities. 

(Image credit: Windows Central)

There's nothing more hilarious than seeing a possessed teddy bear in a sailor's outfit clumsily fleeing from four frantic particle beams.

The core loop of Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed features four aspiring busters entering museums, luxury cruise liners, and other frequently possessed places of business to find and ultimately capture the ectoplasmic terror responsible. As the team of Ghostbusters, you're tasked with coordinating to utilize your PKE Meters, Particle Throwers, and other ghost-deterring contraptions to get the job done. These infamous movie mementos look and feel precisely how you'd hope they would.   

For lone wolves or players who simply want to torture their friends, you can also take the role of the ghost assigned to haunt the premises. Use your diverse kit of paranormal abilities to slime ghostbusters, frighten innocent civilians, or possess essentially any object you desire. And let me tell you, there's nothing more hilarious than seeing a possessed teddy bear in a sailor's outfit clumsily fleeing from four frantic particle beams.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

Unlike other asymmetrical multiplayer horror titles with matches that can take 30 minutes or more, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed presents a streamlined balance between the opposing players. Each round serves as a race between the ghost and the ghostbusters. To achieve your nefarious goal as the otherworldly entity, you must successfully fill a progressing meter to fully haunt the environment. Meanwhile, the ghostbusters desperately work to uncover and destroy ghostly rifts that allow the enemy to respawn upon being captured. The quick, snappy nature of matches strongly encourages the "one more run" mentality.

Players are given the freedom to live the ultimate ghostbusting fantasy as their very own original characters.

A common complaint among genre skeptics lies in the lack of narrative this style of multiplayer title usually offers. With Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, players are treated to a series of well-produced narrative sequences that help push an overarching story along. Fantastic vocal performances from Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson, Rahul Kohli, and more deliver a sense of authenticity and excitement I wasn't expecting from a multiplayer-driven game like Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed.   

The ectoplasmic icing on the Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed cake comes in the form of thoughtful and robust character creation. Players are given the freedom to live the ultimate ghostbusting fantasy as their very own original characters. From fine-tuning your body and facial structure to dialing in your signature fashion, there's something overwhelmingly satisfying about seeing yourself represented in this world. Additionally, flourishes like your user ID or gamertag appearing on your name badge amplify the level of immersion in Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed. 

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed – What you won't like

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The foundation of Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is rock solid. The gameplay for both archetypes is grin-inducing, the presentation and production ooze with style and substance, and the plot lines established in the short but sweet campaign play out like a brand-new Ghostbusters movie. However, there are a couple noteworthy areas this asymmetrical horror multiplayer title is severely lacking.   

Unfortunately, after a few hours, you've seen pretty much everything the game has to offer.

Ahead of the release, the team at Illfonic stated that players can complete the campaign of Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed entirely in single-player. While this is technically true, due to the mediocre and unreliable AI companions, I can't recommend this as the most enjoyable way to experience the game. Your computer-controlled allies sway from devastating eagle-eyed warriors to bumbling, incompetent amateurs in a matter of moments. When playing solo, I found myself doing about 90% of the objectives, which isn't ideal in a hyper-team-oriented game.  

Like many others in the genre, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed suffers from a serious lack of content as well. The available maps, modes, characters, and gadgets feel tight and polished. Unfortunately, after a few hours, you've seen pretty much everything the game has to offer. Initially, there are only five stages to choose from. Character progression, continuous narrative segments, and daily challenges provide abundant replayability in Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, but I wonder what percentage of players will quickly grow tired of the content included at launch. 

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed – Should you play?

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If you're a Ghostbusters fan and have a dedicated squad of paranormal investigating buddies, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is entirely worth your time. Illfonic has tangibly demonstrated their undying love of the franchise by crafting the best-looking and playing adaptation in the series' history. The beautifully produced title also allows lifelong fans to inject themselves into this supernatural universe like never before.  

The disappointing AI performance and limited content provided out of the gate could potentially damage the longevity of Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, but I'm confident a considerable number of players will have a fantastic time busting ghost friends in the coming weeks. I'm eager to see what's in store for the future of this title and hopeful Illfonic has supplemental features, maps, and tools up their sleeves. In the meantime, fire up that Proton Pack and catch yourself something strange.

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Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed 

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is a charming asymmetrical multiplayer horror title dripping with fan service and attention to detail. An undeniably fun and engaging experience for you and up to five friends.  

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Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.