Slowly exploring a dark, abandoned home, the wind whistling outside and the creek of the floor boards with every step I hear the inevitable. A ghastly howl in the distance, a scream of a tortured soul that now wants nothing more than to kill me. Running is futile, there aren’t many places to run to. The only escape is to rid this place of evil, the only protection is a UV torch. But the batteries are running low and I don’t have a spare, this is the world of the Paranormal Hunter.
Paranormal Hunter Preview
A co-op ghost-hunting game in a similar vein to Phasmophobia, Paranormal Hunter by EALoGAMES doesn’t pit you against its spirits directly. More akin to an exorcism, what you have to do is locate “symbols of grudges”. These items can be a mummified hand or what looks like a piece of fruit – maybe a heart? The idea is that you collect these various sigils and take them to magic summoning circles. This will then banish the otherworldly evil and secure your escape.
In its current early access form on Steam, Paranormal Hunter offers two levels for you to brave, as well as a tutorial mode. The Trembling House is the best place to start after you’ve familiarised yourself with the controls, as the location is suitable for smaller groups. The far more imposing (and larger) Hanging Hospital is better suited to all four players or those really brave solo ghost hunters.
You can play any of the levels in single-player, with the benefits of having your friends there and not. Solo, Paranormal Hunter is far creepier and atmospheric. You can take your time and really get into the experience, wandering hallways and inspecting each room. Whereas with a group, some of that is lost as you chat and plan a strategy. On the other hand, when a spirit does appear, when there are four of you you never know who it’s going for first.
To give you some protection, you’ve got a flashlight that can be switched to UV mode to banish the evil spectre for a brief time. Should it get close enough and it’ll snap you like a twig, quite literally!
Feel the fear in VR
Because Paranormal Hunter can be played with and without VR, it should be easier to get a co-op match going. Although, for that maximum fear factor the game has to be played in VR. The VR controls don’t quite feel 100% native at the moment though. You do have a belt to hold more batteries, health and other items. But you can select through them with the grip, annoying if it gets accidentally pressed. Picking up items wasn’t very natural either, you need to point your hand at an object and the pickup window isn’t particularly forgiving.
There were other little annoyances that need to be improved upon. Like walking through doors. I always seemed to get caught, never handy when the ghost came wailing.
But I did like the idea of everyone searching for these sigils. You can all stay together for support or split up to find them faster. Some doors are locked so keys need to be located. And the longer you spend the shorter the time between each spectral visit. Whether you succeed or fail, the end of each game will award cash to spend on new items, hopefully improving those odds the next time around. Invest in a better flashlight, buy health to revive other players or a mystical amulet to make you briefly invisible.
Oh, and to keep things interesting every new session will swap the item locations around. There’s no brazenly running around here.
A step in the right direction
Paranormal Hunter is experimenting with some good ideas which need fleshing out some more. It has got a long way to go before it can compete with Phasmophobia. But EALoGAMES is on the right track. From a VR perspective, it would be good if the environment was more interactive. Doors you could grip for example or cupboards that actually opened. Everything is just laid on top.
Before Paranormal Hunter arrives you may also want to consider XR Source’s best VR horror games.