If you’ve heard your friends mention phantoms, crucifixes, and spirit boxes lately… odds are, they’re (hopefully) talking about Phasmophobia. This first-person psychological horror game allows you and your friends to investigate paranormal activity in houses, haunted schools, and abandoned asylums in order to gather evidence and identify the type of ghost that is lurking on the premises.
Sound spooky? Yeah. But how spooky? Well, I played the game to find out.
Each round starts out in this truck. You and your teammates spawn in and read the objectives for the mission. This is a good time to decide what kind of player you want to be and which items you’d like to take. Without fail, I always pick: strong flashlight, EMF reader, and photo camera for my first sweep. Some other items you can pick: video camera, crucifix, thermometer, UV light, ghost writing book, spirit box, smudge sticks, and a lighter.
Once you’ve selected three items, prepare for the spookiness that is about to occur.
The first thing you want to do is get inside the house and start turning on all the lights. This comes down to preference of strategy, but I use lights as a way to measure which rooms have already been investigated. Also, it’s important to note that being in the darkness decreases your sanity… and the less sane you are, the more likely you are to die from a ghost attack. Not to mention, it’s just plain spooky walking around in the dark.
With that being said, by using this strategy you will eventually make your way to a room that is *slightly more spooky* than others. You’ll know you’ve reached the haunted room when there are freezing temperatures, objects moving on their own, or flickering lights. This is when you’ll want to set up camp.
You can use tools such as an EMF reader, ghost writing book, or a video camera to capture evidence of paranormal activity. As you can see in this screenshot, everything looks normal… but if you turn off the lights and say the ghost’s name out loud, something interesting happens.
The lights will flicker and you’ll hear *ghost noises.* It’s hard to describe the ghost noises, but think of a person who is making a gurgling sound with their throat. When this happens, look around the room and try to locate the ghost. Depending on the type of ghost, he/she will usually stand still in one part of the room or they might even lunge towards you. If they’re standing still, I recommend taking a picture of the ghost with the photo camera. Doing so will get you more money and sometimes provide you with more clues. Keep in mind, you have to be quick because they usually don’t stand there for too long.
Now, if the ghost is lunging at you, I recommend you GTFO and reconvene back to the truck.
Sometimes, the ghost won’t show themselves unless the person calling their name is alone. If you’re a scaredy cat, I do not recommend doing this task. However, if you’re a thrill seeker such as myself, you’re going to enjoy this. Here’s what you need to do: go into the haunted room, close the door, turn off the lights, and use the spirit box to speak to the ghost. You’ll say things like, “James White, can you hear me,” “show yourself,” “give us a sign,” etc. Sometimes the ghost will talk back to you via the spirit box. Other times, the ghost will throw something across the room, write something spooky in the ghost writing book, or just straight up attack you.
If the ghost attacks you, unfortunately the doors will be locked and you won’t have a way out until the ghost goes out of hunting mode. At that point, I hope you brought a crucifix with you (yep– an actual item in the game).
This was a ghost named Susan Thomas. Isn’t she cute?? Susan scared the hell out of me when I decided to say her name in a dark room. If you look on the chair to the left of the ghost, you’ll see a video camera propped up on the chair. While I was being mauled by a poltergeist, my teammate was back in the truck watching the video monitor to spot any potential ghost orbs as another piece of evidence.
Being alone in the room with a ghost sounds scary, but to be honest, the more often you decide to be the brave person in the group, the less scary these encounters get. You’ll get to a point where you’re just like– “oh yeah, hey Susan. How’s it going.”
Another thing to note is that with certain ghosts, you will spend some time fighting over the lights. If the ghost ever shuts off the power, you will have to locate the electrical box and turn the power back on. This can happen anywhere between 1-5+ times per match depending on how long you take to complete the round.
Just a friendly tip– make sure you know where the electrical is located before the lights go out. Otherwise, you’ll be looking for it in the darkness and decreasing your sanity level at a faster rate.
There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to finding evidence. If you ever find yourself frustrated and taking too long to find evidence, I recommend triggering the ghost to show itself and then immediately using the EMF reader/UV light to search for any signs of activity. You can also lay down some salt, trigger a ghost event, and then try to track their footprints. Another way to capture a solid clue is by triggering a ghost event and taking a photo of the ghost.
Long story short, it’ll be harder to find evidence if you’re not triggering the ghost to come out and play.
For the scaredy cats:
Overall, I would say this game is a 6 out of 10 on the spook level. There are no jump scares or meaningless accounts of gore. If you’re efficient, you honestly don’t even run into the ghost very often. There are plenty of chill, simple, “normal” maps like the suburban homes and farm houses. At higher levels, there are much spookier maps like the haunted school or abandoned asylum. But at that point, you’ll be so accustomed to the gameplay that you’ll be able to truly appreciate the complexity and atmosphere of the larger maps.
For the thrill seekers:
Although this game does not want to scare the sh*t out of you, there are a lot of things to enjoy about this game. There will be plenty of opportunities where you can step up and be the person to venture through the darkness to locate the electrical box or speak to the ghost alone in a dark room. For me personally, I love triggering the ghost and then taking a really good picture of their face while the rest of my teammates run away. If you REALLY wanna step up the spook factor, try the game in VR. Trust me… you won’t be disappointed.
Regardless of your spook tolerance, this game is really fun to play with friends. Check out Phasmophobia on Steam— it’s technically an early access game, but due to the popularity, the developer is updating the game on a regular basis. If you’re a fan, be sure to join the official Discord server to leave feedback, discuss strategy, share screenshots, and read about new updates.