January 25, 2024

Jem Sagcal

Ghostlore: A 90s Action RPG, but make it Southeast Asian

January 25, 2024 | Jem Sagcal

Stepping into the 90s to 2000s aesthetics, Ghostlore takes you back to the ARPGs of old while featuring intricate systems that make this one of the most detailed games of its genre.

You are a Ghosthunter taking on the mantle after your Master, whose age has finally taken a toll to continue hunting, decides it’s time for you to venture on your own. As an official Ghosthunter, you will be tasked with missions that take you to various unique locations to clear up hordes or go face-to-face with gruesome Mogui.

Every SEAsian kid’s Ghostly Campfire Stories

Singaporean developers Andrew Teo and Adam Teo (AT-AT Games) decided to bring together the monsters from every Southeast Asian kid’s nightmares. From the Tikbalang of the Philippines, Malaysia’s Penanggal, and Orang Minyak to Indonesia’s Babi Ngepet, Ghostlore becomes a conglomerate of Southeast Asian horror easter eggs. 

There are over 40 foes to face in the world of Ghostlore, each with varying difficulty and skills that will demand your strategic prowess to defeat them. 

Ghostlore's central hub is a city that could be a mythological version of Singapore.
Ghostlore’s central hub is a city that could be a mythological version of Singapore.

The nods to the folklore will be a welcoming and exciting sight for Southeast Asian players. Meanwhile, those unfamiliar with the lore will be treated to educational tidbits that allow foreign players to get to know our continent a bit more, as well as embrace our cultures and witness the stories our grandparents tell us.

Action RPG 101: Complex Skills, Glyphs, and Itemizations

Detail and complexity are certainly among the central descriptions that can be given to Ghostlore. Inspired by Diablo and Titan Quest, it features multiple ways to build your character. First, during character creation, you can choose from six classes: Adept, Exorcist, Feral, Geomancer, Hashashin, and Sentinel. These six classes have unique abilities, but you can mix and match three out of the six as you level up.

For example, you can mix Exorcist, Hashashin, and Adept to create an agility-based hunter that can churn out good damage. 

Typical for an action RPG, skills play an important role in Ghostlore.
Typical for an action RPG, skills play an important role in Ghostlore.

Though there are descriptions as you hover over the classes, the game doesn’t explain much apart from that. There are no tutorials or assisted options, and you are left to explore independently, making it difficult for players who prefer simplicity in their ARPGs. 

Next is the skill tree. With the three classes that you can mix and match comes a skill link system that allows you to set your active and passive skills, as well as modifiers. You’ll need to set your skills or class bonuses within the grid to make better use of your abilities. More grids are unlocked as you level up to make it possible to create the build you want. 

Combat in Ghostlore is straightforward: click on the enemy, use your skills wisely and keep an eye out for deadly traps.
Combat in Ghostlore is straightforward.

It can be a complicated system for most, but it also can be enjoyable for those who love to specify their builds and create a more systematic playstyle with their characters. Again, there isn’t much explanation as you go along, and there are instances when you find yourself doing multiple trials and errors to understand how the links and grids work.

To add to the complexity, there is the Glyph System. As you fight ghosts, there are chances of them dropping glyphs (among items and gold). These glyphs enhance your character further. Within your character options, you can set the active glyphs that grant you bonuses, such as damage or elemental effects. 

Each symbol has a unique trait assigned to it, so you can plan out your active glyphs that can work with your active skills and items. The glyphs are based on the Toki Pona language, an existing minimalist “world language” designed by Canadian linguist Sonja Lang in 2001.

Managing Glyphs and your loadout is mandatory, especially in an action RPG like Ghostlore.
Managing Glyphs and your loadout is mandatory.

Lastly, there’s your loadout—the simplest feature for your character. You can equip one weapon, a shield, scarf, hat, and amulet. You can find new items through drops or in the weapon shop in town. You may also attach blessings to the items to enhance their bonuses.

The aforementioned are the numerous ways you can customize your character’s playstyle. While initially, it can be complicated and sometimes overwhelming, it does take some getting used to. This can be difficult, especially for players trying the game for the first time or new to ARPGs or varying systems. 

The food in Ghostlore pays tribute to Southeast Asian cuisine.
The food in Ghostlore pays tribute to Southeast Asian cuisine.

Wanting More of Ghostlore

With a game heavy on its build-based playstyle, it is very short and straightforward. It can take less than a day to finish the main story, leaving you wanting more to do. 

While there are challenge modes, such as Mission Mode and Endless Mode, there is a craving for further insights into the story of the world and to dig deeper into the lore to make for longer gameplay and allow more use of the player’s built-out character. 

Ghostlore is a wonder in the ARPG genre. It’s a thrill to build your character and find the Southeast Asian easter eggs sprawled all over the world. The systems may initially be complicated, and the story can be short, but it can truly be a fun pastime. Its audience will be a specific one, as it is for those who enjoy build-based styles and quick plays, so if you’re a player that loves those types of games – then Ghostlore is a must-grab.

Ghostlore is available for PC on Steam and the PC Game Pass.

Jem Sagcal

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