Ghost Giant touched me in ways I didn’t expect. Beneath the charm of its stunning, handcrafted art style, lies a tender and moving tale about a son trying to help his mother out of her depression. Yet it’s in the playfulness of the game’s densely detailed, meticulously crafted levels that I found an affecting sense of nostalgia.
Whether modelling little scenes out clay, constructing Lego sets or painting Games Workshop figures at the height of my Lord of the Rings nerdom, I have always been captivated by miniatures and dioramas. It’s this childlike sense of curiosity and magic, evocative of A Fisherman’s Tale, that Ghost Giant so intimately taps into. This joyous charm paired with the sombre story of Louis’ troubled homelife and broken friendship strike a beautiful balance to the game’s tone. The game’s handling of depression and its effect on childhood is tactful and acutely observed, making the story all the more impactful.
As the titular entity, visible to only Louis, you tower over each level, solving simple environmental puzzles to help the eternally optimistic little cat-boy as he plans a surprise to cheer up his mum. Levels favour the wonder of discovery over the challenge of puzzle solving, with each being easily completed with a little creative thinking. Each complex, carefully constructed scene holds countless little stories and I often found myself staying in levels well after Louis had moved onto the next, poking around in every nook and cranny.
Louis’ story is compelling, and his adventure is full of instances that utilize VR and the Move controllers in creative ways, from rubbing clouds together to conjure a rainstorm to using the world around you as a colour palette as you paint a modern masterpiece. Yet many of my most memorable moments happened serendipitously through my own experimentation. In one scene I removed the roof from a house, inspected the decor and discovered a taco hat which I then placed on a roaming cat, earning me both a trophy and a moment of whimsical joy. In another, I found myself peeking through windows, watching little vignettes of domestic dramas unfold.
Much of this world’s allure is thanks to its gorgeous handmade aesthetic and quality of its writing. Each character resembles a wooden puppet given life, and the scenes that surround you act as a set on which their lives play out. Every individual brims with personality, from Monsieur BonBon the confectioner to characters credited simply as “Philosophical Beaver” and “Charming Koala”, there’s an ever-endearing sense of humour that brings this world to life. Paper scraps and nails jut from every surface, giving a gorgeous bespoke quality to environments, reminiscent of Tearaway.
Ghost Giant does little to innovate the fundamentals of VR, but its accessibility and inventive use of its limited mechanics make it perfect for newcomers and experienced players alike. The game’s sense of scale and the accuracy with which you can manipulate its world is impressive, although on a few occasions I found myself reaching for objects in the background only to be halted by the limitations of VR. Despite its brief 3-4 hours length, the desire to discover adds a great deal of replayability to the experience. An imaginative trophy list, a wealth of fun to find collectibles and the pure pleasure of existing in this world kept me coming back, doubling my playtime.
Zoink Games’ first foray into VR perfectly marries playfulness and poignancy. A lovingly crafted world, brought to life by charismatic characters and a gorgeous art style, provides the backdrop for Louis’ sweet, sentimental story. Ghost Giant feels like a game that was a joy to make and as a result is a joy to play.
Ghost Giant PSVR Review
- Overall - Fantastic - 8.9/108.9/10
Ghost Giant is a brave and beautiful game which strikes a perfect balance between its sombre story and the playfulness of its stunning, handcrafted world.
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Reviewed using PS4 Pro.