Prop hunt games are everywhere these days, but Midnight Ghost Hunt genuinely feels like one that can stand out from the crowd, pitting four ghost hunters against four spirits in a fight to the death in the minutes before midnight.
The hunters play from a first person perspective, running around the map with their various gadgets that will help them track and trap the spirits, while the ghost, playing from a third person perspective, need to hide and survive as the timer ticks down to zero. It’s a very simple concept which works unsurprisingly well, even as the game has just entered Early Access.
Matches consist of three phases. The first phase is simple enough where the ghosts float around and try to find some decent hiding spots, able to possess all manner of objects in the world and then move them to what they hope will be a sneaky patch of safety. The second phase is the meat of the match and sees the hunters race against the five minute clock to find and defeat all of the spooks. Failing to find them by midnight triggers the third and final phase, where the hunted ghosts become the hunters and have three minutes to attack and take down the living.
Ghost hunters might have the toughest job out of the two teams right now, because decent ghosts will hold the game hostage for five minutes and make mincemeat out of you when the timer runs out. It’s also a role that requires a lot of coordination between team mates, as bringing the wrong gear can get you into a lot of trouble.
Variety is the spice of continued life for the hunters, and at least one person needs to carry an EMF radar. The radar is the most basic tool and detects nearby ghost activity with a simple meter reading. With the reading getting higher the closer you are to the ghost. Another highly recommended tool is the vacuum, which lets you suck up the remains of ghosts you have destroyed, preventing their revival before midnight.
Other important items are defibrillators. These are not necessarily starter items, but something you would change to midmatch by visiting the workbench, if someone is unlucky enough to get down by a regular ghost. It forces you to think on the fly and adapt to the situation which I appreciate.
But you can’t just vacuum up ghosts like you’re in Luigi’s Mansion. No, you need to obliterate them with all manner of spooky guns. The starter weapon, the Spectral Cannon is a good go-to even when other weapons are available. I found myself defaulting to it quite often. The flamethrower is also pretty strong, as it spews anti-Ghost acidic flames, which works wonders on haunted props.
There’s a few fun weapons to experiment with as well, however. Such as the harpoon bazooka which hooks ghosts in and deals electrical damage to them. If you’re feeling fruity, there’s also the Reaper, which is basically a sniper rifle that fires explosive rounds. Some weapons are better against the props themselves, while others are quicker at take out exposed spirits.
Playing as the ghosts is a whole different ball game. As a literal game of hide and seek, disguising yourself as random objects in plain sight is a lot of fun, but you can’t stay still for too long, as a meter builds and you become more easily detected. In one game as a ghost, I disguised myself as a basketball and hid behind a rack of balls, patiently waiting for the timer to count down. With about 60 seconds left, I bolted in ball form to the nearest door, using my Apparition ability to send a fake ghost in a different direction, completely bamboozling the hunters. I hid in a nearby toilet and the clock struck midnight.
It’s not always easy, of course. A team of well coordinated hunters can demolish ghosts very quickly, as I also found with some games. There’s lot of different tricks on offer to help ghosts, such as the starting ability, Phantom, which lets you go mostly invisible for a short period of time so you can escape hairy situations. Polgergeist lets you haunt up to five objects, making them float in the air and striking Hunters as they pass by, and you can fling the object your possessing, albeit with a telltale glow as you wind up to max power.
Death for a ghost is not the end. Even if you’ve had your crystals vacuumed up, you can float around the map, giving information to your team and making use of another ability, the default being Chill. Chill does what it says on the tin, chilling nearby Hunters, slowing them down and helping you escape, but you can also drop health orbs for your ghostly peers, give false radar readings, and even push over objects to mislead the hunters. The customisation and loadout potential is decent enough and I think people will be experimenting for a long while.
You only need one Ghost alive at the end of the five minutes in order to resurrect the whole team (even vacuumed ones). It’s pretty scary being on the receiving end as ghosts in this mode are deadly and the match is over very quickly. The hunters can try to survive for three minutes in order to escape but at this time, it feels pretty much impossible.
Midnight Ghost Hunt definitely needs a lot of balancing to make matches fairer. I would say I think it’s very ghost-sided at the minute, with the ease of getting away and only needing one surviving ghost to trigger the final phase. To add to this, playing with random hunters is a lot harder than playing with random ghosts, with coordination between players being key. I also think that the weapons could do with balancing as well, if only to encourage more variety in what people choose.
Saying that, I had a good time playing Midnight Ghost Hunt and I think as long as the balancing is looked at and it gets continued support through Early Access, it could be fantastic!