I’m not the biggest fan of walking simulators. Not because I don’t enjoy them, in fact, I think you can tell some of the most captivating stories through the linear medium. Rather, I don’t like walking simulators because they never seem to evolve. Most titles in the genre tend to contain the same few tropes, offering a character lost, trapped or on a path of self-discovery who uncovers a mystery, history or themselves through the aid of an omniscient character. However, while Ghost on the Shore offers that experience to a tee, it does so with enough panache, creativity and above all, heart, to make it an enjoyable and intriguing experience.
“The game’s watercolour visuals give each landscape a far more vibrant and stylised appearance.”
As you’ll mostly spend your time exploring the dynamic environments and rustling through the drawers of a people long gone, it would make sense that the locations you venture through are stunning. Fortunately, Ghost on the Shore offers some genuinely phenomenal vistas for you to gaze upon. From clifftop views of glistening beaches to old cottages engulfed in a sea of vines, there are so many dazzlingly beautiful sights to see.
While certain textures appear to be a little murky – although frankly never as bad as Pokemon Legends: Arceus – the game’s watercolour visual aesthetic manages to brush over a lot of the inconsistencies and gives each landscape a far more vibrant and stylised appearance. It works wonders in the game’s favour as it makes the entire experience far more dreamlike and ethereal.
Ghost on the Shore also allows you to interact with a range of objects, all of which have been stunningly recreated. You’ll encounter books with believably worn out spines, aged bottles with the paint peeling off and an assortment of trinkets all of which breathe life into this hauntingly beautiful world.
“By far the most compelling aspect of the game’s narrative, is the relationship between Josh and Riley.”
Fortunately, Ghost in the Shore offers an immensely intriguing narrative to go along with its perilous yet beautiful islands. It follows Riley who finds herself stranded on the enigmatic Rogue Islands with the voice of a long-dead man in her head named Josh. Together, they piece together the history and many mysteries of the island while Riley overcomes issues in her own life.
By far the best, and most compelling aspect of the game’s narrative, is the relationship and subsequent banter between Josh and Riley. The writing and voice acting that carries this relationship is phenomenal and does a lot to endear you to both characters almost instantaneously. You’re frequently given multiple dialogue options to say as Riley, which adds a nice dynamic to the conversation and can genuinely shift the tensions between both characters in meaningful ways.
Of course, the mystery element of Ghost on the Shore helps propel and contextualise their budding friendship. It’s paced perfectly, offering you tidbits about each character you learn about at the exact right moments, and revealing key information about Josh and the islands when it would elicit the best reaction. The writers are clearly incredibly talented as they have managed to craft a nuanced and genuinely intriguing narrative encompassing an equally as compelling relationship.
“Infrequent bugs and glitches in Ghost on the Shore impeded a complete sense of immersion into its stunning world.”
Unfortunately, there were a few key issues with the narrative that made me struggle to immerse myself within it completely. While initially the game ran without any issues, the further I ventured into the Rogue Islands, the more bugs and glitches I encountered. During one fairly important encounter, all of the dialogue was completely silent. Fortunately, I had subtitles on, but for those who didn’t, they would have missed out on the entire – frankly rather important – conversation.
Additionally, conversations between Riley and Josh would be cut short if I happened to go further than the game was expecting me to. They’d be discussing something of relative importance before one of them would interrupt the other with an insight into something I’d just stumbled across. However, they’d then fail to return to the original conversation, meaning I’d miss out on potentially crucial dialogue simply because I moved too far ahead.
While these issues weren’t consistent nor persistent, I found them to be somewhat detrimental to my overall experience. I’m sure through future updates and patches some – if not all – of these problems will be addressed. However, throughout my experience, these infrequent bugs and glitches impeded a complete sense of immersion into its stunning world.
“With its many great qualities and various endings, Ghost on the Shore is almost worth its asking price.”
However, despite these qualms with Ghost on the Shore, I genuinely enjoyed myself. There is an incredibly compelling mystery here that I had a fantastic time unravelling. I felt that the game managed to offer both a captivating experience throughout as well as a sufficiently satisfying conclusion. The islands that you get to explore, the characters you learn about along the way and the complex history that encompasses all of it were simply fantastic.
With its many great qualities in addition to its various endings which are worth exploring, Ghost on the Shore is almost worth its asking price. If you’re an avid fan of the walking sim genre, then I’d recommend picking this up without delay. However, if you’ve found yourself growing tired of it, beyond its great narrative, I don’t think you’ll find anything innovative enough in Ghost on the Shore to rekindle your love for the genre.
You can purchase Ghost on the Shore on Steam for $19.99/£17.49/€19.99 here.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.