When you are a solo developer, it allows you complete creative control to create something exceptional bespoke and niche. Your dream vision if you will. That is what Sandor Berczi has been blessed and cursed with on his debut game Ghost Beat. Its a rhythm action precision platformer that is simple to play yet tricky to master at the same time.
Each level in Ghost Beat features a circular shape and your character will always move forward – which is initially always clockwise. Each circle is made up of several rings – a bit like a tree – and you’ll need to move between them to stop yourself hitting the various walls and objects coming your way. The problem? The way ahead is constantly being unveiled in quite close proximity to you and you’ll need to move quickly and often to the beat of the music to escape harm.
Ghost Beat on paper sounds like its closer to an endless runner than a rhythm game but it really reminded me of a game called Maddening Overload. In that game you ran forward around the outside of a globe that constantly throw obstacles at you without much warning. Here, you are inside the globe using the trigger buttons on your controller to switch between rings. What I appreciated with Ghost Beat is that every level offers a new twist on this mechanic. The second level offers keys and doors to unlock so you can’t rely on following the darker open path by eye. Level three starts to bring pushing arrows that throw you off and then those arrows start pushing anti-clockwise in the next level. It made each level feel unique and challenging as its one hit death means you are back to the start again. By design, the game expects you to memorise patterns because often the way is only shown about 2 seconds before you need to shift so you’ll be replaying levels over and over to get it right. That might wear on some gamers but as the levels are about 2 minutes in length, you’ll get there eventually.
There are two gripes I have with the game though. The first is that there is a visual zoom boom when you are expected to move to a new ring. The problem is that there is sometimes an audio/visual time sync discrepancy and there is no calibration settings. As Ghost Beat is expecting precision from you, you expect to move when the beat hits and often that leads to death as you have to move slightly before. It took me a while to de-sync from the game and play at my instruction, not the games. The second issue more pressing – on release there are only five levels. These levels are excellently put together and you can access them all from the start but if you click with the game, you can be done in 20 minutes easily. It needs to at least double the content to be a full fledged game – although what is here is good.
Ghost Beat is a tentative recommendation. If the sync issue can be sorted, that’d be great, but it needs more levels. If you pop across this review later after release and there are a few more levels, bump the score up one.
A great foundation for a great future game but lacks the amount of content I had expected for a game not in early access.
Well put together rhythm charts makes the game feel like its in the flow.
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