In the midst of the first-ever PAX Online, the public has gotten the chance to get their hands on some pretty sweet games. With the flood of available demos on Steam, online panels and just another huge amount of content, it’s easy to feel daunted. I certainly was. With this, I chose to play the demo of Ghost on the Shore, an indie walking sim that boasts some pretty captivating vibes. Let’s jump in.
Ghost on the Shore follows two central characters. One is the main character you’ll be controlling, a young woman by the name of Riley. She’s got quite a peppy, fun little British accent to her. The other character is Josh, who by the way, is a charming Scottish man who is also very much dead. Now his ghost is possessing Riley (in a friendly way!) and acting as a sort of conscience, and the two must explore this island they’ve found themselves on. Answers to just how the two found themselves in the situation they’re in, and where the hell all the island’s inhabitants went, await!
I really want to hone in on how nice the dynamic is between Riley and Josh. Sure, they’ve only just met and Josh is inhabiting her body, but they still have time for banter. This is helped largely by the great amount of personality the voice acting has provided for both characters. Early on in the demo I was standing at a cliff’s edge, admiring the view. The game took the time to tell me I’d perhaps been standing there admiring it for too long. “Don’t jump,” Josh’s voice chimed in. “Then I’d have no one to talk to.” Little pleasant and charming exchanges like this show up quite a bit in the brief demo, even if the audio cues aren’t always perfect and characters sometimes inadvertently cut each other off.
Like many walking sims before it, the storytelling of Ghost on the Shore looks to largely be provided to you through a considerable amount of readables, environmental storytelling and dialogue between its main characters. There’s leeway here: other ghostly spirits will appear throughout the story, assumed to be ‘will-o’wisps’, ethereal entities resembling the island’s past inhabitants. These take a form as more beautifully haunting imagery, not intended to horrify or spook the players.
Other nice touches offered here is the journal that you will keep with you on your in-game journey. You can not only use this to go back over the letters and other collectables and readables you find, but go over sketches. There are moments in the game where you’ll be hit with a prompt to stop, take in the view for a bit and then a sketch of the environment around you will be made in the journal. This is nothing new in games, especially to the genre, but man am I a sucker for it every time I get it.
When it comes to the art style and look of Ghost on the Shore, it’s peak indie. I don’t mean that in a bad way either. Environments are simple but coloured in such a gorgeous way that it feels like you’re wandering around an oil painting. Lights will hit off trees in quite nice ways. Wind will whistle through to you and you’ll hear the calming call of the sea’s soft waves hitting the shore.
All of this, complete with some solid tonal music, helped to set the scene and invest me entirely. Whether it’s the relationship between Riley and Josh, the story, or the wandering around and taking in the views, I’m coloured quite keen on Ghost on the Shore. I’m always here for another walking sim to love and adore.
Yes, Ghost on the Shore looks to do nothing entirely all that new when it comes to the walking simulator genre. I’m fine with this. The twenty-minute demo was enough to reel me in and with the game’s premise being a ‘story and relationship exploration’ game, it’ll be one sure to tug on the heartstrings.
Ghost on the Shore is being developed by like Charlie, and is currently listed as ‘coming soon’ on Steam. You can grab the demo for the game here. PAX Online runs until Sunday the 20th of September, so be sure to tune in to more of our coverage on the event.