I’ve climbed out of a sherpa burial ground and fought the first boss of Cursed Mountain. Now is as good a time as any to talk about the combat. Other reviews have described it as repetitive. I guess this is true, but that complaint is due more to not enough verity in the ways the ghost act than any problem with how the combat works. If given only one word to describe the combat I would choose “satisfying.”
Eric’s main tool in ghostbusting is a ice axe that has been mystically enhanced by buddhist priests. Yeah, I know. But in practice this unconventional weapon works quite well in the confines of the story. It just makes sense that to banish angry ghosts you fire spirit bullets at them out of your magic climbing tool.
The axe is used in two ways. A simple melee swing that is limited in range but doesn’t hinder movement, or as a gun of sorts that allows you to fire at ghost from a distance but requires Eric to stand in one spot to do so. This adds a lot of tension to the combat. Like Resident Evil 4 using a ranged attack means you can’t dodge enemy attacks and unlike the villagers in that game the ghost have the oh-so-fun habit of disappearing and reappearing behind you. It can get quite intense when trying to fight off two or three ghoolies who are all vanishing as you fire at them only to reappear to gnaw on your blind side.
Using the ranged attack has additional advantages. After you’ve whittled a ghost down enough you can perform an exorcism ritual on them instead of just blowing them up (exorcising them also blows them up but bigger). Not only is it quicker to ritualize away ghosts you also gain a small sliver of health for each spirit banished back to the Bardo. And since this is a Wii game doing so requires everybody’s favorite new gameplay mechanic: waggle!
Attempting to banish a ghost causes a series of arrows to appear on screen and you must swing the wiimote and nunchuck in the direction they show. Most of the time you only have to swing the ‘mote in a sideways motion across the front of your body, but sometimes you have to push the remote toward the screen. Remember how hard it was to perform a shield bash in Twilight Princess using the same motion? The problem remains here. Often the game doesn’t recognize the swing which can cause a little frustration.
Or, according to all those other reviews, unending amounts of frustration and torment. The problem doesn’t really bother me. 90% of the time the second swing is reconized. For the other 10% there’s no penalty for missing. The ghost just keeps advancing and you try again. It’s not like a botched exorcism heals the ghost or hurts you or anything sinister.
What’s more, when the waggle works it works. Swinging your arms to performing a ritual really immerses you in the game (and as we all know immersion is what makes horror games work) and when you nail the exorcism and the ghost staggers back to explode. Well.. there’s really only one word for it. Satisfying.