The first game I ever played was PC Research’s 1983 survival horror game, 3-Demon. And by survival horror, I obviously mean a first-person vector riff on Pac Man. John D. Price and Rick Richardson’s intimate maze-em-up was austere and unsettling, branded as a seminal experience into soft, impressionable neurons. So, imagine if that sort of ambience dropped tired old phantoms for battlesuits in a near-future subterranean lair?
Das Geisterschiff, which arm should I present for cannulation, come November 25th?
I kid. I got my taste of the full thing this week, because the impetuous can snag Graverobber Foundation’s cyberpunk opus on Itch already (PC, Mac, Linux), including the demo. But what is Das Geisterschiff?
It’s a slow-burn turn-based dungeon crawler, and for those recently a little saddened that Kerberos Studios’ Pit of Doom didn’t draw closer to the tenets of its roguelike inspiration, Das Geisterschiff might help soften that brow. But not likely, Das Geisterschiff is pretty ruthless, as you’d want from a crimson techno-Wizardry. Real-time movement (but in the kind of paced, parceled square-by-square movement) throttles into turn-based manoeuvring when there’s enemy contact. Simple by design, ruthless in execution.
We’ve had a few interesting sci-fi dungeon crawlers in the last few years, with the likes of Starcrawlers and Bionic Dues. But they haven’t quite hit the mark. Das Geisterschiff sings from its platform of hard-edged minimalism and harder-edged mechanics. It starts slow, but the levels and upgrades have a finely-tuned upswing in complexity, making me recall old 32bit favourites like BRAHMA Force. My life is ostensibly just chasing the BRAHMA Force dragon, so anything that hints at Genki’s old, forgotten battlesuit corridor crasher gets an automatic pass.
But Graverobber Foundation has channeled other crunchy morsels of pulp goodness. Das Geisterschiff feels like a lost GUNHED title, built exclusively from the vintage deliciousness of the film’s wireframe interludes.
The sound design, both limited effects and the music, continues the surgical ambiance. No fat. Lean. Haunting. And, if it tickles, the soundtrack is available with your purchase on Itch. When it hits Steam, it’ll be DLC.
Keep Das Geisterschiff on the HUD. A haunting, armour-plated ballbuster.