On the surface, Ghostlore looks like your typical Action RPG where the difference just lies in the fact that the game uses mythical characters from Southeast Asian folklore, and while that is technically correct, it’s a shallow take at best.
Ghostlore is so much more than that, with its Glyph System, the Class combinations, and beautiful pixel art, each giving the game more replayability in its own right. Sure, there are things the game has to improve on, but the game is in its very Early Access phase, and if its solid base is any indication, it is on par with being a good alternative to the Diablo games.
Diablo-lite, in a good way
AT-AT Games does not deny that the game is inspired by Diablo, particularly Diablo 2, and it shows in the presentation. From the simple things like minimap, to the movement, and the way enemies are destroyed, then to the more unique stuff like alt looting, where you hold the ALT button and you see which items are available to loot, and you simply click on the name to add the item to your inventory. It’s very simple but is such a great quality of life implementation.
Continuing on its similarity with Diablo 2 is the fact that the game is also kind of spammy, but I don’t consider this to be a bad thing at all. In fact, I kinda like it! One of the best features of Diablo 2 for me is leveling up just so I can try out a new skill that I can obliterate my enemies with. You’ll end up with a spell or two that you’ll use on everyone, but it’s still fun trying out other spells just for the heck of it.
Unique Class System
After selecting “New Game” on the Title Screen, the game’s starting screen is pretty basic, with you being able to only customize your name, hairstyle, and class. The good news is that even in Early Access, Ghostlore already offers you six unique classes, each with its own sets of abilities and passive traits, not to mention some of the class names are not what you usually see in ARPGs.
First is the Adept class which is more of a mage warrior than a warrior mage, if that makes any sense. As the Adept class, you’re able to dish magic attacks and have enough defensive capabilities to take some hits and deal them right back.
The Exorcist is the summoner class in the game, able to summon spirits and even turn your fallen enemies into becoming allies, reborn to do your bidding. You also have access to spells that buff your summons, but more importantly, you can also hold your own without any help from your summons with potent damage-dealing spells.
The Geomancer is the main mage, being able to use the four elements to his advantage, that being Ice, Fire, Earth, and Lightning. Though seemingly the best AoE-based class in the game, Geomancers actually are also good defensively, with most of its passives focusing on elemental resistance.
You’d probably guess what Hashashins do base on their name and what it sounds like. Yes, they’re the assassins in the game, with skills and passives focusing on stealth, burst damage, and poison.
One of the more unique classes in the game is the Feral class, which is a bit of a tank, but more of a vampirish tank. The closest I could think of to this class is Vladimir from League of Legends, where he sacrifices health to deal damage, but also regains it with certain spells while being tanky enough to not die during the process.
The last available class is the Sentinel, which is similar to the Druid in Diablo 2. Similar to the Exorcist, you’re able to summon minions as well, but this time in the form of animals, with the difference being you’re much more able to defend yourself by your lonesome.
As mentioned earlier, Ghostlore has a unique mechanic wherein you’re able to combine classes starting at level 15. You can start as a tanky Feral then decide later that you want more burst damage so you combine with the Hashashin class. Or maybe you just want everyone else to do the work for you and go for dual summoning classes like the Exorcist and Sentinel. There are a lot of combinations to try which adds to the game’s replay value.
Unfortunately, the devs have no plans yet on adding new classes in the near future, but with six available classes and the ability to combine them later on, I think this is more than enough for now to satisfy.
Freedom of Movement
While the game is only available on Steam right now, I like how they future-proofed Ghostlore by making it accessible to both PC and (future) console players. Players have the option to either use a gamepad, using the analog stick to move around and buttons to cast spells, or use the keyboard and mouse combination to either do the same thing on the gamepad by using WSAD keys for movement while using other hotkeys for spells or go for the classic Diablo-style controls and use left click to move your character and use hotkeys for spells.
Since I grew up playing the Diablo games, I opted for the third option and it’s working so well, but for those who prefer the other two, those work just as fine too.
A Taste of Southeast Asia
Okay, so the devs didn’t necessarily hide the fact that this game has a LOT of Southeast Asian folklore influence. In fact, they even advertised the game as such, even coining the term “Eastpunk”, a term I completely have no idea existed.
You’ll see a ton of monsters, items, weapons, and the like, all pointing out its Southeast Asian roots, particularly in Singaporean and Malay folklore. Even one of the features in the game, food powerups, is based on the popular food stalls in Singapore named Hawkers, and said food is based on actual Singaporean food, like the Laksa, Nasi Lemak, and the Goreng Pisang, just to name a few.
I really appreciate the devs adding a Southeast Asian flavor to the game, but a part of me wishes that the “SEA influence” didn’t just refer to Singaporean and Malaysian folklore, and add some other SEA countries, like the Philippines for example.
We have a LOT of mythical creatures here like the Manananggal (a vampire-ish creature that has the upper half of its body separated from its lower half but can control both independently), the Kapre (a tree sasquatch-like giant that likes to hang out in trees smoking branches), and Aswang (a shape-shifting creature that is the most feared mythical creature in the country) that will fit in the game perfectly, as well as certain weapons like the Arnis/Kali (a wooden stick usually dual-wielded), and the Balisong/Butterfly Knife (a foldable pocket knife that can be used as a throwing dagger as well)
Hopefully, influences from other countries like the aforementioned Philippine folklore, as well as from other SEA countries like Thailand, Cambodia, etc. will be added, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for this one.
The Glyph Gift
One of the game’s best mechanics is how it implements the Glyph system. Some of the loot you’ll receive from enemies are glyphs, and these are divided into two: the normal glyphs that work on their own, and compound glyphs that give you additional stat bonuses apart from the bonuses from normal glyphs.
You gain a glyph slot whenever you level up, but you can only have certain compound glyphs available, and what compound glyph you’d be able to put in also depends on its shape, as all compound glyphs have different shapes, even the ones with the exact same name and rarity.
Once you’re able to put in the compound glyphs, you can put normal glyphs inside its influence area and gain even more bonuses which depend on the glyph you put in. It’s very confusing in the beginning, but once you get used to it, it becomes easier to understand and it’s actually a fun and intuitive mechanic.
The Long Walk
Similar to Diablo 2, the game has a “town portal” mechanic which I think works very well, but one of the gripes I have with the game is that in dungeons, you are forced to walk the entire time. Call me lazy or anything, but when you seem to be where the main boss is and want to travel to all the other spots first before engaging, you will have to walk all the way to the other side just to do that, then once you’re done, you walk all the way back to where the dungeon boss is.
It’s a little too grueling for my taste, and I wish that either the game implements better mobility options, like waypoints or mobility-based skills, at least when there are no enemies in sight.
The Loot Lottery
I love the Diablo-esque loot system where the game just gives you all kinds of sellable crap and sometimes real valuable treasures, but there’s an issue in the game where the loot I was getting was completely useless. I guess I could just sell those, but there’s no way that I should still be getting the same items when I was level 1 now that my character is now level 15.
There should be some sort of loot progression if there’s such a thing so that whatever you pick up is not completely worthless.
Ears on Strike
The game’s sound is, without a doubt, the worst thing I could find in the game. Some of the sound effects leave a lot to be desired. For example, I’m using what seems to be the game’s bow and arrow, but on impact, for some reason, it sounds like you punched the enemy.
The background music is even worse than the sound effects. I can tell that the musician tried to make the game’s music as good as it is, but some music does not convey the dungeons’ and towns’ motives well, and it loops so quickly. There were plenty of times that I got distracted from the music, and not in a good way.
Ghostlore is a fun game. I kept comparing it to Diablo because, one, it’s just as fun as Diablo, and two, they compared it themselves. The comparisons will never go away, but I feel like it, despite some shortcomings, and still being on Early Access, is on its way to becoming a decent alternative to Diablo.
For now, it can contend with Torchlight 2.
Ghostlore (Early Access)
Shootin’ and lootin’!
+ Amazing pixel art
+ Great gameplay
+ Glyph System is amazing
+ Class System offers tons of replay value
– Music and Sound Effects are terrible
– Loot balance needs tweaks