With the increasing popularity of nostalgia among contemporary gamers longing for brighter, shinier versions of the games of their youth or new takes on classic genres, some game developers are answering the calls of their fans and bringing us what gamers want. One of these developers are Hucast Games who bring us their new game Ghost Blade HD, published by 2Dream.
Hucast Games is a German indie game company that specializes in new games with classic vibes for next-gen gaming platforms. Their previous titles include DUX and the original Ghost Blade, which were developed for the discontinued but still not dead Sega Dreamcast, and now this company is capitalising on their trend of reviving old school-style gameplay for current gen systems, which seems to be working for them, by bringing Ghost Blade HD to PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U.
The game’s story is simple. 10,000 years ago, an Artificial Intelligence known as Shira was built to protect the residents of Mars; however, as time passed the AI became corrupted, and Shira started to attack the Mars colonies. With no way to defend itself against “Evil Shira”, Mars calls for help from their bravest warrior, you. Your mission is to destroy “Evil Shira” before it can complete its new attack force and threaten the existence of the entire universe.
The gameplay for this indie definitely has that nostalgic feel with satisfying and addictive score-based gameplay, with its inspiration going back to the shooting games of the 1990s era. Ghost Blade HD is a top-down shooter where the ship moves up and enemies mostly swarm from above. The game has three difficulties: easy, normal and hard, and the main goal is to make your way through the five stages with huge boss enemies at the end of each of them, and each stage gets harder than the previous one. On easy, the game provides just the right amount of challenge for those who want to just have some fun and enjoy themselves. When playing on normal mode, the game provides players with a stronger but rather satisfying challenge. It will make sure you are focused at every movement. I didn’t play much of the hard difficulty since I died way too many times and got frustrated, but it is a challenge, and the arcade-style gameplay is indeed very addictive. I have to say that the difficulty is one of my favorite aspects of this indie because it focuses on players pushing themselves to get better at it. The game also features a 2-player local co-op mode and online leaderboards so you can play with your friends and see how you stack up with other players worldwide. The only thing that can be kind of annoying is that the game is displayed in widescreen mode, even though most other games are displayed in full screen. However, it was never much of a problem for me while playing.
The controls for Ghost Blade HD are extremely simple for anyone to use, and it doesn’t matter if you are a master of shoot ’em ups or a beginner who wants to try your hand at the genre. The game only uses directional buttons to move and three buttons to fire the weapons. One button shoots a standard blast attack that is weaker but covers a larger radius and allows faster movement. The second button is a focused attack that is about twice as powerful but hinders speed and range, while the third button uses bombs that can wipe out the projectiles and some of the enemies on the screen at once if the player gets in a bind. However, if you are playing the game on easy, the bombs will be automatic. There are three different ships that feature slightly different weapons, such as bullets that shoot diagonally or a larger radius of head-on fire pattern.
Ghost Blade HD has beautiful, detailed HD graphics that make it look stunning and impressive when compared to the original version of the game. Even at those times when there is a lot happening on the screen, the graphics still look amazing, and the vivid colors, backgrounds and explosions are all beautiful.
The action-packed soundtrack pays tribute to the original game with its catchy leads and electronic beats composed by Rafael Dylan. Dylan returns to his signature sound fusing of J-Pop influences and typical 90s synths with modern production values.
Ghost Blade HD has lots of good features going for it, like the 2-player local co-op mode, online leaderboards, arcade-style gameplay, and addictive scoring system, while the only aspects that were kind of bad points were the kind of short length with five levels, too much happening on screen and the widescreen mode.
In conclusion, Ghost Blade HD is a great shoot ’em up with lots of nostalgia and is well worth the €8.99 or $9.99. Every gamer will have a blast playing it if they give it a try. It is definitely at title with lots of gameplay value to it when one is looking for a fun, addictive game.
Developer: Hucast Games
Platform: Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U
Release Date: 2017