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Thursday, June 13, 2024

You too can be chased by a possessed pirate cannon in this weekend’s Midnight Ghost Hunt beta

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Few things bring me greater joy than suppressing cackles as I chase down my friends in a prop hunt game, cornering them despite their best efforts at camouflage and trickery. Midnight Ghost Hunt has that feeling in spades, plus layers of weapon loadouts and special skills and twists on top. It’s headed into another closed beta this weekend, which you can sign up for if you’d like to try a bit of ghostly inanimate object shenanigans yourself.

I’ve not yet gotten to try Midnight Ghost Hunt with my own friends, but I did get the chance to take my spectral skills for a spin with the developers recently. I played on team of four (there are also 2v2 matches) as either the ghosts, who start by picking an object on the map to possess, or as one of the hunters tasked with tracking them down. A full match gives each team one turn as ghosts and one as hunters, lasting a breezy 15 minutes or so.

As a hunter I picked one weapon, one gadget, and a perk for my loadout. There’s a salt shotgun, a sledgehammer, a flamethrower, a ghost vacuum, and a radar to detect the ghosts, to name just a handful of the many weapons and tools that each have their own benefits. To stay hidden until midnight, ghosts have their own spooky skill loadouts, which make for better laughs than just possessing the smallest object possible and wiggling into an unreachable spot. I was able to turn myself into a hunter’s doppleganger to sow confusion, telekinetically move nearby objects as a distraction, leave fake footprints, and more.

The hunters only have five minutes to search and destroy the ghosts until the clock strikes midnight. If they haven’t defeated the entire ghost team in that time the round doesn’t stop—instead the tables turn and the ghosts get an opportunity to hunt the hunters. The hunters are then stuck hiding or defending themselves from angry ghost players for four minutes until evac arrives. During my first match in the haunted mansion map I was chased up the stairs by a deadly table lamp.

More intense was the pirate ship, where a vengeful ghost player possessed a giant cannon and chased us around the deck shooting cannonballs.

As a newbie ghost I relied heavily on the basic right-click leap attack, which I could have used to aggressively throw myself at hunters but mostly used as an escape tactic instead. On the large theater map I was able to hurl my tiny bucket body from the main floor up to the top balcony, which was a seriously satisfying trick shot.

It was also a handy move for lowering my ectoplasm buildup: an ectoplasm meter fills up the longer a ghost hides in the same spot, discouraging camping by making them more obvious to ghost-tracking tools.

Midnight Ghost Hunt is an action-y take on prop hunting. Ghosts have offensive abilities and excuses to use them, while hunters aren’t punished for shooting at random and making a mess. It’s a fun slapstick FPS with occasional tense moments of hide-and-seek.

Learning the maps and generating creative strategies is a challenge in a one hour play session, but the weekend playtest will be an opportunity to dig into some high level haunting skills. You can request access over on the Midnight Ghost Hunt Steam page. The closed beta begins Friday, running from January 28-30. Over in its development blog, Vaulted Sky Games explains that this weekend’s test includes a bunch of upgrades from the last event in October, including map reworks, AI players, and changes to both matchmaking and server browsing.

Midnight Ghost Hunt doesn’t have a final release date yet, but is planning to launch in Early Access later this year.

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