An evil army of ghosts and monsters have been summoned to destroy and infest the lands. Two ghost sweepers with unique abilities must set out and defeat them. You build and destroy blocks in order to create barriers, platforms, and traps. There are a lot of different worlds and stages to complete in Ghost Sweeper. Each stage also will reward you with stars based on your progress. You can replay any level at your leisure and try either character to see which one works best on that specific stage.
Here’s what I liked:
Nice Fantasy World — If there’s one thing that I liked, it’s that the actual world is kind of fun. There are a lot of little monsters that were brought by some evil guy and it’s cool that the two ghost sweeper characters have come to get rid of them. There are several worlds with multiple stages, increasing in difficulty, and showing more enemy types. The style is simple yet each level is built just a little differently. It does give a bit of nostalgia feel from the earlier days of gaming, being difficult but not impossible. I just wish the characters had a little more life to them. They don’t talk and there seems an absence of any real story.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
All Those Riches — Each stage has coins and cool artifacts to collect. However, they do literally nothing except help you get more gold stars. You’d think there would be something to buy with them. I guess there is a tent you can go to for purchasing things, but you aren’t really shown how it works and I still didn’t have it unlocked through the entire second world. I’m guessing this is where the “pay to play” part was in the free version of the game in the Apple Store. I generally started skipping everything but making it to the finish line just so I could get to the next level in the hope that things would get better. The game doesn’t even keep track of what you’ve collected nor is there a little menu showing you what artifacts have been obtained. At least, not one that was obvious to me. It’s like a tasteless dressing put onto a salad.
Jumping and Blocks — You move around by creating blocks of what appears to be ice (no clue what they are since it’s never talked about). You can break them and so can enemies. They are used for creating barriers and for stopping certain enemies. The jumping and platforming is not that responsive and makes it a little difficult to navigate. There’s a certain timing you need which never feels right. It’s like you’re fighting the poor execution as much as the monsters.
Death Becomes You — For some reason, there’s a special annoyance with death. I have played several games where you die numerous times trying to finish a goal. However, times you die here just don’t seem like part of the plan. It’s as if you should have health or a few lives. I died way too many times to stupid things, like jumping on a fire I thought was out or running past an enemy that was on the ground. Things I don’t feel I should have died to. There are too many chances of death for something I didn’t enjoy playing in the first place. Maybe that’s the problem, I just didn’t like completing the levels. They felt like chores that never ended.
Any hints of decent gameplay are overshadowed by a lot of faults. With the bad accuracy for platforming, it’s difficult to get good at the game. To succeed you must really stop and think, which is a good thing except you have a little timer counting down that will make you feel rushed. The first character I tried was horrible, having to suck in ghosts with a vacuum and shoot them before they escaped and killed me. I hated the mechanic. I felt better with the second character who just shot them. However, you’re so limited on magic that you don’t get the joy of killing things. You have to be specific on what you kill them platform to get more magic, which also only gives you one shot. This is severely limiting your options on how you want to accomplish completing levels and gives you no satisfaction completing a level without “doing everything”.
With minor changes to this, there could have been some kind of charm that a lot of people could like. But sadly, none of these design choices were executed and we’re left with an unmemorable game that released a while back on the Apple store and was free, minus in-app purchases. With that in mind, I imagine the price tag is basically unlocking the game without having to actually spend the money to play. At least there’s that.
Score: No Appeal
Ghost Sweeper was published by Totalconsole and developed by 7 Raven Studios on Xbox One. It was released on April 4, 2020, for $4.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.