If we were to hand out awards for adorability at the end of this year, Zoink! Games’ latest would already have the entire competition beat four months in. Ghost Giant has to be one of the most charming and lovable experiences we’ve had this generation, and to witness its beauty through PlayStation VR is quite a sight to behold. Packed with charm, delight, and truly heart-warming moments, it’s a journey unlike any other.
And yet, it’s the element of fright that pieces together the opening scene. Louis, an 11-year-old kitten from the town of Sancourt, is out and about simply minding his own business when he bumps into you. Taking the form of a large blue ghost, you scare Louis into taking every chance to run away. However, as he receives aid from yourself rather than pain, Louis starts to realise that you may not be so bad after all. A friendship begins to take shape, and so the two head off together in the direction of home.
Trust is what holds a relationship together, and it too is what helps the bond between you and Louis to blossom. Sat at the edge of a river crying, the narrative holds an immediate grip as a ponderous mind questions why Louis is so upset. The thought quickly slips into the back of your mind though as his cheery, selfless personality comes to the forefront as soon as he learns you’re not a threat. He’s a positive, thrill-seeking boy on the whole who only wants the very best for everyone else. But, it’s also those beneficial traits that make the game’s sombre moments all the more heartbreaking.
Louis’ journey is one of emotion. You’ll smile and laugh together, offer comfort when times get tough, and be the friend he needs as his relationship with his best buddy goes through a rocky period. There’s no grand twist to uncover, rather a moving, genuine, and thoughtful quest to bring joy back into the life of Louis’ sick mother.
Due to the fact that everything the title asks of you is designed to aid Louis, its perspective approach is a little different. Your viewpoint is located just above building level, allowing you to look down upon the sets presented to you. You can’t move your ghostly figure at any point, but you can turn your body about a compass at three to four different intervals that’ll give you a different angle on things. The PSVR headset allows free movement of your noggin, and doing so allows you to explore the scenes in front of you in order to complete objectives that advance the act.
Meanwhile, two PlayStation Move controllers give you the opportunity to interact with the environment. Acting as your two hands, there are two motions you can perform: point with a hold of the Move button and a pinch with a press of the trigger. They’re the only two actions you’ll ever need, and the game helps you out along the way by highlighting objects of interest with a coat of brass.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to lend Louis a helping hand. You’ll start off simple by moving rocks out of his way or by building a bridge for him to cross, but the complexity quickly ramps up. Soon enough you’ll find yourself luring townsfolk away from certain areas by way of a painting resembling a taco you just drew using the environment, or finding cogs at the seashore in order to get a crane back in action. Pull the rooftops off of houses to get a look inside, pull a lever to reveal a series of homes ascending into the sky, or open up trees to gain access to hidden items.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are some truly magical moments to uncover as you work your way through the game’s 13 levels, experiences that are only possible in VR. These seemingly simple mechanics of pointing and pinching take on a whole new lease of life as what you thought was in the realms of possibility is left behind. These enchanting scenes are going to stick with you for a long, long time – not just because of their mesmerising actions but also thanks to the effect they have on Louis. We cannot emphasise enough just how special a handful of Ghost Giant’s levels turn out to be.
What are just as distinguished are the other cats and animals you meet along the way that are simply overflowing with charm. Character and charisma can be found around every corner, from a group of friends in Sancourt town centre who are upset by the lack of art about the place to the jogger who only appears if you leave a certain level to linger upon completion. It makes the town feel like a real place rather than a series of situations designed to make Louis always come out on top. Hidden interactions flesh out the world and reward you for fully exploring every nook and cranny of a level, while performing your secret handshake with the endearing kitten is always a delight.
The title stretches to roughly five hours in length, but there are more than enough incentives to warrant a second playthrough. Multiple types of collectibles are hidden throughout the majority of the levels, from simple hidden objects through to pinwheels you can blow on in real life. It’s the perfect duration for this type of experience – long enough to thoroughly impress but never to the point of outstaying its welcome.
When it comes to visual design, the game is up there with the very, very best. Every level is presented as a sort of diorama made of paper and cardboard with the likes of clouds and stars hanging via strings. It’s beautiful, and the colourful nature of every rolling hill, calm river, and eccentric character only adds to the look. Being able to explore every single bit of each environment via PSVR is especially gratifying – you could spend a good half an hour probing every scene as you take a peek into homes and down back alleys.
Ghost Giant belongs in the conversation for the very best PSVR game. Its utterly phenomenal series of scenes will live long in the memory, complemented by a narrative that demands immediate investment. Louis is a wonderful companion, too – a relatable character who you’ll quickly learn to care for. Outstanding presentation that rewards exploration is the cherry on top of a title we won’t be forgetting about any time soon. If you own one of Sony's headsets, you absolutely cannot miss out on this special experience.