|Developer(s)||Sick Puppies, Spiral House (PS2, Xbox)|
|Publisher(s)||Empire Interactive, Feral Interactive (Mac)|
|Designer(s)||Gregg Barnett, Chris Bateman|
|Release date(s)||May 23, 2003
December 21, 2006
December 27, 2011
Ghost Master (released as Ghost Master: The Gravenville Chronicles on the Xbox and PlayStation 2) is a puzzle/strategy game for the PC. It is among a small selection of games that put the player in the role of the enemy. In this case, the player assumes the role of a Ghost Master, a bureaucratic spirit tasked to perform certain duties. While the bulk of a Ghost Master's duties consist of hauntings, a Ghost Master may also be "called in" to increase belief in the supernatural, avenge deaths, and conscript renegade ghosts. Because a Ghost Master cannot directly interfere in the world of mortals, the Ghost Master is given a team of subordinate ghosts to do so. When not haunting, the Ghost Master is responsible for the training of the ghosts under his/her command.
The game makes references to 1980s-2000s movies and films, such as Weird Science, the Evil Dead, Phantom of the Opera, Goodfellas, Poltergeist, Ghostbusters, Blair Witch Project, Sleepy Hollow, Full Metal Jacket, etc.
The game consists of 14 levels (15 if you have the UK/Steam version of the game.) In all but a few levels, the primary goal of the game is to scare away all the mortals (humans) and cause them to flee the area in fear or succumb to madness.
Ghost Master plays similarly to a real-time strategy game. The player first chooses the ghosts he wants to field in the level. The player cannot field every ghost in every place. Each ghost has one or two types of objects (or "fetters") it can be bound to. For example, a ghost who died during a robbery could only be bound to a "Murder Fetter," whereas a water spirit can only be bound to a bath, sink, or a simple puddle of water.
Another limiting factor is "Plasm". This numerical resource dictates which abilities a ghost can use. As a human becomes frightened, Plasm is generated. With more Plasm, stronger abilities (and more ghosts) can be fielded at any one time.
Once the objective(s) for a level has been completed, the game rates the player's progress. Many factors are considered, including time, amount of impact on the mortals, and how many mortals fled. If the player is able to complete the mission fairly quickly, there is a multiplier added to the final score. This score determines the amount of "Gold Plasm" given to the player, which is used to add more spells to ghost's arsenal.
The game ends with a cliffhanger, with the Ghostbreakers bringing in a bomb that would completely erase supernatural presence in the city where the game takes place. Because of the lack of a sequel, a bonus level was released for fans, which provided some closure. However, the bonus level is only available for the UK version of the game and was not released for the US version.
The bonus level is included in the Steam and Good Old Games release of the game. The bonus level "Class of Spook'em high" is the only DLC released for the game, in the level the Ghostbreakers attack the HQ of ghost master, an old abandoned mansion the player has to defeat the ghost masters in order to win the game. Due to the game lacking a sequel the bonus content was released in the sequels place.
Each level also has "Restless Spirits," haunters bound to a certain location in some levels, there are often "secret" locations of the haunters, requiring you to use a move or complete an objective to reveal their location, usually having a back-story as to why they are there. The player can use haunters they already brought with them to free them using a certain move, or a combination, an example is in the first level, the restless spirit, "Weatherwitch" is bound to a vacuum the player has to use an electric fetter move to free her, causing the vacuum to malfunction, and release weather-witch.
Mortal defenses and abilities
All mortals have a belief level, which partially determines the effectiveness of a ghost's powers upon them. The belief bar is raised slightly with every scare, and particular powers are able to raise belief better than others. Every mortal also has conscious and subconscious fears which are linked to certain ghost's powers. Scaring a mortal with a power that appeals to their fear is particularly effective on him or her. These are usually unknown at the beginning of each level, but some ghosts have the ability to expose these fears.
Mortals also have a terror level and a madness level, with certain limits to each. When a human's terror bar is raised to a certain level, he/she flees, this is the objective of most of the in-game levels. The madness bar is filled only by the use of certain powers. When a mortal's madness bar reaches a certain point, they go insane, which is visible in that they now just roam the area of the scenario in a frenzy and are unable to be scared or maddened any more. The fear bar reduces as time progresses in the game, but the belief and madness bars do not.
Somewhere between average humans and ghosts are priests, witches, and mediums. These humans have the ability to banish your ghosts that are fielded. Banished ghosts are no longer usable during that level, and are returned after the mission is complete. Also, a large score penalty is levied on players who allow ghosts to be banished.
Ghostbreakers are the most dangerous mortals, from a supernatural perspective. They are able to detect and banish ghosts at a much faster speed than the other "special" mortals mentioned previously. They are also able to field special wards, which prevent the player from fielding, or benching, ghosts trapped underneath them. Only if the electrical generators are destroyed do the wards fail.
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Ghost Master received generally favorable reviews.
- "Ghost Master (pc: 2003): Reviews". MetaCritic. Retrieved 2007-11-10.