The Outbound Ghost is a light-hearted role-playing game by Conradical Games where you are a lost ghost trying to find your identity. If you enjoy games similar to Paper Mario, this is definitely a game to check out.
I recently played their demo during Steam’s Next Fest indie celebration and enjoyed what I saw so far. You play as a ghost that seems to have problems with amnesia and seeing enemies called Apparitions. Traversing the world, you use your emotions, which are individual characters you battle with, to defeat these enemies and upgrade them. You can use the items you pick up to forge new abilities and traits for your emotions/heroes. Battling is turn-based and pretty simple. Most of the time you select the move you want, and you have to press the action button at the right time to get the move’s full effect.
Gameplay-wise the battle system is mostly solid. I won’t critique it too much because they’re already making some great updates from the feedback they got. The one thing I would suggest is to have the action button highlight green and explained when it hovers over the best spot on the dial. The different patterns for the dial movement is interesting, but it’d be nice to have some variation like Paper Mario, where some attacks bounce off the enemies and aren’t exactly the same each time.
The story doesn’t pick up until the very end. At the start of The Outbound Ghost nothing is explained to you. What am I doing? Why am I using emotions to battle? I’m a ghost but I’m still in the human world? The developer’s version of ghosts needs to be explained better and earlier-on. There is already too much padding when traversing the world. It must be four or five times that a different ghost was saying they were going to capture me. It’s the whole “the princess is in another castle” ordeal. Not much story to want me to get to where I am and not much to keep pushing me along. I would suggest taking some time to whittle the level down so it doesn’t become a repetitive trail to follow.
Having your emotions battle enemies confuses me. Not seeing these heroes in the normal game outside of battles disconnects them from the story to the point where I just see them as punching bags. No one else in the world (besides another character) can see the enemies, so battling feels a little pointless and arbitrary. A big boss randomly appeared without warning. The screen just went static then boom, there it was. Perhaps it’s the pacing of the enemies in the world that I didn’t click with. I would at least have some recognition of the battle happening, like one of the other characters following me asking how I’m doing or having a happy face at the end. Not a lot of positive feedback is given from The Outbound Ghost to make the player feel solid in their choices. The heroes also have way too many possible attacks. Think of Pokémon and keep it to only a few that you can swap around. Lighten my cognitive load of trying to remember who does what.
For the main character and ghosts being so fun and interesting, the colors of the world and menus are dreary. A lot of it are dull shades of brown, which may look nice for a phone application menu, but this is the menu of a cartoon game about ghosts. Some images aren’t optimized and are cut-off in the menus. The world itself is 3D, which isn’t terrible, but a lot of assets are reused repeatedly, meaning it feels kind of empty and I got lost because I thought I had already visited a place. The typography needs a little updating, as I’d rather not have to read through all the text animations in the character dialog and have it rapidly appear.
The sound effects need to be remade. Probably the most aggravating sound was when the water droplet appears on the characters when they’re embarrassed. The music itself was fun and entertaining, but it forced you to hide around bushes which would distort the music. Why not have different enemies have different movement patterns, instead of hound-down the player every time they’re less than a mile away?
In summary: A cute little game with fun battle mechanics and charming art. The level design and sound could use a bit more polish, but I'm looking forward to its full release in the future!
Jordan played The Outbound Ghost on PC with a free demo from Steam Next Fest. The Outbound Ghost will also be available on Switch, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X.