“The people you love become ghosts inside of you, and like this you keep them alive.” – Rob Montgomery
Ghost on the Shore is an emotional new exploration game in which players take on the role of Riley. Accompanied by a mysterious and headstrong ghost she must venture across the abandoned Rogue Islands to uncover their troubled past.
Developer: like Charlie
Released: 24th February 2022
Ghost on the Shore’s dramatic introduction sees Riley caught in an unexpected storm. In a panic she heads towards an unknown island in the distance, however, as she gets closer she begins to hear a mysterious voice. As the pair realise they can communicate the voice tries to help Riley and her ship get safely to land. Players soon learn that the mysterious voice belongs to Josh and he proceeds to guide Riley on an adventure across Rogue Islands searching for clues about why he is still there. The pair continue to communicate and the player is presented with timed dialogue choices that may or may not be instrumental to the story’s outcome.
Whilst the player is kept mostly on the rails, there are plenty of things to collect and discover encouraging thorough exploration. Riley completes a journal with various items, notes and drawings. This is also used to keep track of progress and can be viewed at almost anytime.
The controls are fairly standard and Ghost on the Shore plays comfortably with either a keyboard and mouse or a gamepad. It will take around 4-5 hours to complete but has plenty of scope for replayability given its branching dialogue and multiple endings.
The clever narrative design has players revealing the story in a variety of different ways, from the conversations between Josh and Riley, from the environment itself, from the vast array of notes, photographs and letters spanning hundreds of years and from the other ghosts that briefly appear. The game delivers an emotive mystery that becomes more intriguing the further it unravels.
Riley and the player gradually get to know the islands’ past inhabitants and their personal histories as they explore and the overarching narrative of Ghost on the Shore is made up of a tapestry of overlapping stories and long-dead characters. These unique and colourful characters spark conversation between Riley and Josh and the various dialogue choices made by the player will shape the bond that the pair share and ultimately, their fates.
Ghost on the Shore features an evocative and varied soundtrack that ranges from relaxing woodwind, acoustic guitar and piano to eerie vocals and rockier tracks, Remember by Simon Alexander was a particular highlight. Likewise, atmospheric sound effects, such as the noise of a storm or ambient nature sounds really help build an immersive and engaging environment.
The vibrant 3D art style is a curious mix of cartoon-like images with a hint of realism, it has a somewhat unique feel and suits the style of the game well. Despite the colourful nature of the scenes depicted there is a moodiness afforded by the colour palettes and lighting, this reflects the mystery of the narrative and the uncertainty of Riley’s relationship with Josh and really helps tie the visual elements and themes together. Additionally, the hand-drawn style of the illustrations featured in Riley’s journal is completely different and this adds a further dimension to the already mesmerising aesthetics.
Overall, Ghost on the Shore is another great narrative game from like Charlie. It offers captivating, intertwining stories, a mesmerising aesthetic and satisfying exploratory gameplay as well as replayability. It is an experience that will take players through a range of emotions and pull on the heartstrings. The game spans a range of genres, from walking simulators to interactive fiction to detective games, and I wholeheartedly recommend this to fans of all of them!
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!