Until recently I have never really been a big fan of roguelike titles, meaning I skipped Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game on Meta Quest. However, I have recently found a fondness for this genre, so it was time to strap myself in for some Space combat.
Release Date: October 5th 2023
Developer: Fast Travel Games
Publisher: Fast Travel Games
Price: US $19.99 / CA $26.99 / €19,99 / £15.99
Reviewed On: PlayStation VR 2
* Code Provided For Review *
WHAT’S THAT STRANGE SIGNAL?
You are the Captain of the Aurora, who’s ship has picked up a strange signal in Space. On choosing to investigate further you are dragged into dog fights against enemies in different sectors of Space. Upon dying you come to realise you are stuck in an infinite loop but, you and your onboard AI have kept all your memories from the previous journey. You will start to unravel more about this mystery signal as you try and try again to find your way though Space.
IT SEEMS WE ARE STUCK IN A LOOP
Ghost Signal is a roguelike set within the Stellaris universe, meaning all of your battles are going to be in Space. This sees the Aurora having to make it’s way across the solar system, in seven different stages – each throwing up a selection of paths. Which will present different challenges some easier than others.
On the path through the stages you can normally take three different routes into different sectors, which are randomised on each run you make. This can see you take a route that may offer more easier/smaller battles, an elite battle, see a huge creature, a random sector and stop off at shops/upgrade stations. Selecting the correct route could be important to your run, as in the elite battles you will get more scrap, an upgrade for your ship and complete more research.
In most sectors you are coming up against a number of enemy ships in different shapes, sizes and difficulties, but all want to take you down. It’s here where you will need to plot a path for your ship, select the right weapon out of your blaster, laser and rockets at the correct times, and for the distance between you and your foes. Also you will get a boost, which has a cool down period after every use, so using this to dodge at the correct time becomes just as important as your weapons.
Outside of the battles you are going to be collecting or buying upgrades for you weapons or ship, buying the right ones for your play-style is going to be crucial, something I found after many deaths – so at first it might be more trial and error to figure out what works best for you. These upgrades only last for this run and once you are shot down, you are back to your basic ship. However, your attempt has provided you with research, meaning you can use this for permanent upgrades to your ship, allowing you will go back stronger as you try and try again.
At the end of stage two and four you will get a boss fight that will all require a different approach to beat, and when first coming up against them it will be a challenge. On stage four you will get an option of two bosses to face, and once you have beaten one I would recommend on the next run take on the other – as all the boss battles are great. Then in the stage seven you will end it by taking on the final boss, which is a real challenge and a point I failed at quite a lot of times.
One you have complete the run with the Aurora, you will unlock the Pandora and the clearing it with the Pandora will unlock the Iris. Each of the ships have their own set of stats, strengths and weaknesses, and have permanent upgrade trees of their own.
As you would expect, once you die its back to stage one, after all it is a roguelike. But, this is where spending your research points will allow you go back a bit stronger for the next attempt. Again applying the research into the parts that suit your style best is going be important to feel those boosts.
If you are happy with the runs you have completed, the team do offer daily challenges with a leaderboard. These see them switch it up with modifiers that will give you more of a challenge, and the daily rotation keeps it feeling fresh.
A BEAUTIFUL DIORAMA
Ghost Signal presents itself to the player like a beautiful diorama, which really suits with what the game is doing and makes it perfect for the Stellaris universe. The details, blacks and colours are really accentuated by the HDR offered on the hardware. The mini model of the Aurora and the enemy vessels all look detailed, as do the little explosions as you take them out. It all looks great against the background of stars, planets, space stations and huge creatures. It’s very easy to get immersed in the settings. My only real issue was, it would be great to see blown up stations in the debris around the sectors, rather than just a bunch of meteors. Although, not having these does not ruin the immersion in anyway – just something I think would improve it even further.
The world is then brought to life with the sounds of the battles, that are ever-present in Stellaris and a great musical score. This makes it very easy to get lost in Space and in the universe created in Ghost Signal for hours at a time, and keeps it feeling like part of the Stellaris lore.
Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game is a very enjoyable roguelike, with the way it plays bringing something different to the genre in the virtual reality space. With it delivering a story, that makes the roguelike gameplay merge perfectly into the Stellaris universe. Offering plenty of reasons to keep returning and trying again with a very robust upgrade system, lore to unlock and daily challenges. Which just makes the longevity of this title huge and you are getting plenty of value for £15.99. If you are looking for a solid roguelike experience that plays different to any other in the genre, make sure to consider Ghost Signal.