In this post, I’ll review a spooky ARKit survival shooter for iOS called ghosthuntAR: Survival. What caught my attention was the really cool ghostly characters. I’ve heard the new update is on the way, so I waited for the update to be released before I review the game. The update contained difficulty balance updates and bug fixes. I am reviewing version 1.02 of the game and I was using my iPad 2017 to play and review the game.
What is ghosthuntAR: Survival?
GhosthuntAR: Survival is a wave survival ARKit shooter where the player needs to survive as long as possible through 10 waves with increased difficulty while shooting scary ghostly creatures.
Yout start the first wave with a weapon, an armor and has a health pool. Both the weapon and the armor are upgradable. To upgrade them, you need to collect cubits, which fall from dead enemies on the floor. Those cubits look like shiny little boxes. Once you get close to them with your iPhone or iPad, they will be automatically added to your inventory. I found myself almost always needing to crouch a bit to get close to the cubits and collect them.
Once you get enough cubits you can spend them on either: buying a health pack which fully restore your health, recharge your shield fully or put them into upgrading your shield or your weapon. The cost of both the weapons and the armor increases as you unlock more powerful items.
Let’s check out some gameplay before we move on.
There are a total of 5 weapons and 5 armor items in total. I would have liked to see much higher weapon selection. Once you unlock a new weapon, you can change to a previous weapon. It’s not like some other shooters where you get to change weapons during the fight. In ghosthuntAR: Survival you only use a single weapon. In fact, a higher weapon will provide you with so much firepower, so even if there was an option to change weapons, you probably wouldn’t use it. The last weapon, for example, is a rocket that does instakill to any enemy.
I’ve played different shooters in the past month like Dragon Power Fighter AR, ARZombi, You Gun Die AR, AR Fruits, Alien Invasion AR, Alien Invaders AR, Crazy Monsters Strike AR, Color BlastAR, and others. I’ve noticed that some developers have preferred making a 360-degree shooter where the action happens all around the player, others made it so the action happens only at the front side.
GhosthuntAR: Survival spawn the enemies only at the front and the sides of the player, not at the back. They can spawn above your head but they never spawned near the floor or behind my back.
I actually prefer playing this way. I found out that shooters that rely on constant turning not always provide a comfortable gameplay experience unless the player has a lot of space around him. Sometimes playing a 360-degree shooter can cause dizziness if there is no indication where the enemies are. The field of view is limited anyway, and you find yourself just turning like crazy trying to search for enemies.
The developer actually played well with the ghosts positions. I’ve noticed that the ghosts sometimes spawn at the opposite side I was looking at. The moment I turn my head I see the ghost staring into my eyes at point-blank range, it was quite scary, to be honest.
I played the game both outdoors and indoors and I it’s definitely a game that requires space. I recommend at least 3×3 meters (9.8×9.8 feet), but you can play it in smaller areas, but it doesn’t work very well in small areas. Players will need to move around the environment to avoid getting hit by projectiles or a ghost running after them. Furthermore, when I played the game in the living room, the cubits fell far behind the walls or even in the regions of the other rooms in the house.
It’s also recommended to play the game in a well-lit environment so ARKit can pick up the surfaces and drop the cubits onto the floor surface. The game doesn’t ask you to scan the surface. What I think what the developer did was to let the game scan the surfaces as you play the game and as you aim the device down on the floor to pick up the cubits.
There is a problem though. Without a predefined gameplay region, the cubits will fall at the position where the ghost is eliminated, which can sometimes be at an inaccessible area like behind a wall. This is why it’s recommended to play the game in a large open area. I’ve also noticed that sometimes the cubits just move away from me as I get close to them. The cubits collecting gameplay mechanic is a nice idea because it encourages physical movement. I think that the developer should add an “Auto collect” option for the cubits so people can play the game indoors without those limitations or at least increase the magnet effect distance of which the cubits are collected from.
I’ve seen this done in the iOS ARKit game My Country, but even there the range is quite small. That’s one suggestion that I think can enhance the gameplay experience when playing the game in a small area.
Other than this, the shooting experience felt very smooth, responsive and accurate. I also liked the reloading mechanic, although you do an unlimited ammo. When I got the rocket, I found out that I need to reload after every single shot, but you can kill any enemy with just one bullet. Still, I was tapping like crazy, releasing like 3 or 4 rockets each second, it was crazy!
You don’t really need to run around the environment, maybe at wave 8 or above where things are more intense. I personally just stayed more or less in the same area, moving around a bit to avoid projectiles. My main focus was in making fast turns, and rely on a fast reaction times and good accuracy. Doing so, I was able to take down the enemies really fast before they were able to deal any damage to me.
Still, the game isn’t too hard but it’s not too easy either. I think it’s just about the right amount to not frustrate the player too much and still offer some good challenge.
The goal of the game is to try to defeat as many ghosts as possible. There is even a global leaderboard where you can see how you stack up against other players from all around the world—nice.
Let’s Talk Visuals (Do Not Skip This Part!)
The graphics are definitely one of the main highlights of One of ghosthuntAR: Survival. It’s without a doubt, the most visually impressive Augmented Reality shooter that I’ve played to date.
The game has unique 3D characters. I sometimes see shooters that use 3D assets that I’ve already seen in other games. I have never seen any other game that used these 3D characters before. I would have remembered if I saw them somewhere else.
The game also features another mode apart from the survival that called “Fright”. This mode was meant to give players an option to scare the friends out and even record that moment in a video and share their reaction to social media.
The visual effects are amazing in this game. This is one of those games, same as Dragon Power Fighter AR, that looks so much better when played in the dark. When I recorded the gameplay video I went down to shoot some footage during the night, so you can see how vibrant and amazing this game looks. The theme of the game fits a dark environment much better than a lit environment. The problem is that the ARKit detection doesn’t work well in dark environments. This is why it’s not recommended to play it in a well-lit area.
That being said, there was some light on the ground from the street lamp so I could still play it quite well. There was no problem with the ghost’s appearance in AR. The ghosts will spawn near the player because their positioning isn’t tight to a surface detection but a distance from the device itself.
The shooting experience is enhanced a lot because of the vibrant, splashy and energetic visuals, it’s really a stunning looking AR game.
I think I’ve spent almost three hours going over the video footage and extracting some images just to let you understand why I am so excited about how this game looks. I think that the following pictures can speak for themselves, please have a look.
I was blown away by the amazing glowing vibrant effects and how perfect they fit the theme of the game and the character animations. As you can see, the game looks insane when you play it in the dark, but as I said, it’s an ARKit game, and you get the better gameplay experience when you play it in a well-lit area.
GhosthuntAR: Survival was a very pleasant surprise. I didn’t expect it to be that good. The game doesn’t really bring anything fundamentally different in the gameplay mechanic department. It’s still a standard shooter where you shoot enemies in the augmented reality space.
Having said that, not every shooter that plays the same like ghosyhuntAR: Survival was fun to play. This game reminds me of Blizzard’s approach to game development. They take a popular genre and enhance it and the result is a game that looks and feels completely fresh and it’s super fun to play. Now this game wasn’t developed by Blizzard but I felt the same thing goes with this game as well. The developer took a familiar genre but enhance it in such a way that the entire experience felt fresh and compelling.
The visual quality, the animations, the colorful visual effects, the sound effects, the attention to details, the UI—Everything just melded so well together. The result is shooting experience like no other.
I do think that the game still needs to be further optimized so it can be adapted to small gameplay areas. Furthermore, even with all the glorious presentation, I did feel that the game falls a bit flat and lack certain dynamics to make it less predictable and more interesting to play. Still, it’s one of the most attractive casual AR shooters out there.
It is a small game but it doesn’t make it different than almost all the other ARKit games out there. I also think that this wasn’t the attention of the developer in the first place. I think the goal was to create a simple fun AR shooter with fun gameplay mechanics and great visuals that will make it stand out from the rest.
The shooting experience feels great and the game looks absolutely amazing. It’s unquestionably worth its asking price—Overall, Highly Recommended!
Click here to visit the official game’s page on iTunes.