Ghost on the Shore had been on my radar for some time. This is a first-person, narrative adventure game, feeling unique given you can explore the world through the eyes of the main character Riley. It’s a deep story analysing life and death, plus there’s a decent mystery to solve too.
We see the game through the eyes of Riley, who has had an accident aboard a ship. The wind rises up and there’s a huge storm, although a voice in Riley’s head manages to navigate her safely to shore. This voice belongs to someone called Josh, and somehow Josh has made it into Riley’s head. Riley makes her way to the picturesque islands, there’s no one to be found by relics and broken down old buildings.
Riley and Josh are our main two protagonists here in Ghost on the Shore, but the islands have wonderful character and depth to them as well. On the face of it, this is a beautiful island, although it’s hiding some terrible secrets, teasing Riley and Josh to learn more and find out what has happened here. Throughout the game, you, as Riley, learn more about Josh and also the islands too.
Ghost on the Shore has its roots in point-and-click adventure games, although the game is played from the first-person perspective. I found this gave more impact to the game’s scarier moments (it’s not called Ghost on the Shore for nothing), and I genuinely found the hairs standing on the back of my neck at times.
The environmental design in the game is excellent. The islands are well designed, as are the items and the things you find. There’s a hand-drawn quality to the game that makes it feel very personal and a lot of care and attention has gone into the game. While the hand-drawn elements of the game look great, the wider environment doesn’t always live up to the same level of detail, with the visuals sometimes reminding me of a PS3 or Wii era game with its textures. In the grand scheme of things, this is a small detail, given the story and narrative will take you away, and you most likely won’t notice a short time into the game.
There are narrative choices to be made in the game and they have a real impact. The conversation takes place between Riley and Josh, and your relationship with Josh determines the outcome and you’ll get one of four endings in the game. This offers up some replayability to the game, so if you want to go back and experience the other endings then you can, through different narrative choices with Josh.
Riley and Josh encounter a ghost on more than one occasion in the game, and a relationship develops between you all as you move forward. In terms of gameplay, it’s all about exploring the remains of broken-down old buildings and architecture, gathering info and clues as to what exactly happened here on the island. Objects you find are interactive, and you can rotate them to find further clues and text. For example, you’ll find an item on a shelf, and you can click on it to rotate it to find an inscription or a note attached to it, which will give you more context. As you work your way through the game you’ll find more clues through letters, tapes and sketches and the idea is to put everything together to unravel the mysteries of the island.
Ghost on the Shore is a slow burner, but it’s one that’s going to provide you with a memorable experience. As you explore and find out more about Josh, I found myself caring about Riley and Josh’s relationship more and more. This is down to the skilled writing, but also the performances by the actors in the game that breathe real life into these characters and make me care about them and their interactions with each other.
Overall, Ghost on the Shore is a decent narrative adventure game. It’s not too long, plus the world that has been created here has depth and charm, plus you’ll get hooked into the characters with the wonderful writing. If you are a fan of point and click adventures, this is a worthy addition to your collection.
Developer: Like Charlie
Publisher: Application Systems Heidelberg
Platforms: PC, Linux, Mac (Reviewed on PC)
Release Date: 24 February 2022