“To be haunted is to glimpse a truth that might best be hidden.” – James Herbert
Developer: like Charlie
Release: Q1 2021
Available on: Steam
NOTE: This review is based on a pre-release demo of the game and as such may not be reflective of the complete and finished product.
Ghost on the Shore is a narrative-focused exploration game with strong themes of relationships and death. Players take on the role of Riley, stranded on a deserted and desolate island with only a long-dead ghost named Josh for company.
Riley and her ethereal companion must wander the isle exploring the derelict homes of the absent islanders in a bid to uncover the history of the island and discover what happened to Josh. There are a plethora of items to interact with and view, each providing a snippet of information as well as opportunities to sketch different scenes, sometimes constructed by Riley herself after looking at a found item.
During the investigation and as the pair traverse the environments, conversation flows with branching dialogue choices that will impact the type of relationship Riley and Josh develop and the bonds they form, ultimately effecting how their stories will play out.
The Ghost on the Shore demo throws the player in quite abruptly and whilst this was somewhat jarring, it provided an intriguing and comprehensive preview of the game. It seems likely that the complete game would ease the player in more gently with an introductory section of some sort.
Narrative and Styling
This game has a strong focus on narrative and uses clever narrative design and environmental storytelling to create intrigue around both the characters, the island, and the ties that link them all together. The demo does a great job of exhibiting these features and building an air of mystery.
Ghost on the Shore has a simple but effective aesthetic. The visuals appear painterly and almost impressionist from a distance, with details and textures becoming more apparent as the character gets closer. Lighting is also used to add to the atmosphere in different areas, this is especially effective in the more surreal and supernatural scenes. Likewise, the minimal but well-implemented music and sound effects can be quite emotive and really help with immersion.
The Ghost on the Shore demo provides a snapshot of what promises to be a gripping and engaging narrative experience. It introduces the story and world while nurturing the mystery within, creating intrigue and demonstrating the many positive aspects of the game’s styling. This, alongside the quality of the studio’s previous work, leaves little doubt that this title is one to look forward to!
If you’d like to check out like Charlie’s previous game, take a look at our Marie’s Room review, or to learn more about the studio and their development process, you can find the developer interview here!