Rise and Shiny recap: GhostX

There are quite a few side-scrolling action MMOs out there these days, so when I decided to take on yet another one, I thought that I might regret it. As soon as I downloaded GhostX and loaded it up, however, I knew I was in for a different experience than anything found in the other side-scrollers I have played in the past.

First of all, GhostX is set in some kind of futuristic setting, complete with nanobots and strange mutant creatures. The look of the game is distinctively Anime, but the good kind. When I think Anime, I think incredibly bad creations like Naruto or Pokemon -- stuff that literally makes me cringe. GhostX is the kind that just looks like a toy, like you could reach through the screen and manipulate the characters and story yourself.

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GhostX is described on the official website as a "metro action RPG," which is terribly funny when you see the hairstyles and outfits on some of the characters. I'd say that description is pretty right on (in addition to being humorous). You spend your time running through sewers and cold concrete shopping malls, and you come across some of the most unique and varied sci-fi-ish monsters and enemies I have seen in many MMOs.

The action is non-stop, even through the tutorial. You walk through a series of tasks to introduce yourself to your nano, a weapon-creature that floats idly by your side one moment, and with the press of the tab key, becomes a living weapon the next. It is actually pretty thrilling to see the transformation of your little floating eyeball friend into a large sword. In fact, I never stopped wanting to see it. All of the animations and moves in GhostX look like they came from a well-crafted cartoon -- they're slick, fast, and sharp. You can choose from one of three basic types of living weapons to use, but later on those weapons morph and level into much more powerful-looking, and -acting, weapons.

Combat is basically a hack-and-slash affair, but fortunately, missions are composed of killing only handfuls of monsters instead of scores. This means that each time you are sent out to perform yet another kill task for yet another spiky-haired NPC, you are not bored to tears by the activity. In fact, I found myself looking forward to some of the grindy quests so I could become better at combos and abilities. Controls are really basic, and all combat is controlled by the keyboard, so memorizing hotkeys by touch is easy enough. I only wonder how accessible GhostX is for people who lack certain motor controls or keyboard finesse -- always a disturbing thought even if the game is very specific in its control scheme. I just don't want anyone left out in the cold in any game because of his physical ability.

I would like to comment on the main storyline, but honestly I ran across enough broken English translations and confusing terms (duck duck? What's a duck duck?) to make me skip all the quest text. In this day and age, I truly do not understand why some games, especially ones that obviously have a sizable playerbase and some success, continue to have broken English translations. One would think that the solution is as easy as getting an American or three on Skype and paying them a hundred bucks a pop to sit down and play the game with the developers, pointing out what they don't understand. Yes, I know that translation and localization is much more complicated than that thanks to slang terms and grammatical issues, but it makes me wonder whether some companies like GameKiss just ignore the need for perfect translations, since most players say nothing about it.

Even with all of the messed-up speech, you get the basic idea of the story. Since you are essentially running through a linear series of story-quests, you can also look up the information on a forum or wiki somewhere, I am sure of it. I honestly didn't care -- the combat and action more than made up for the disjointed text. I am just in love with the look of this game and games like it. I am all for any Anime-inspired games that take the Anime title back from crap like Yu-Gi-Oh or Dragon Ball. I have always been a fan of more stylized games, my absolute favorites being The Chronicles of Spellborn and Ryzom, so when a game comes along and owns how stylized it looks, I love it. The good looks of GhostX don't demand a high-end PC, either. I played it successfully on my basic laptop of choice.

Customization seems to be pretty in-depth as well. I was pretty tempted to buy in-game cash to spend on some of the clothing options, but I found that, with time, customization comes along with standard play. As you level up and gain more cash, you can buy more clothes and items. Your nano changes looks as well, in some cases becoming really, really cool-looking. After a while, players can craft their own style. I am not sure whether the game has any plans for housing, but I could only imagine how fun it would be to decorate a stylized, futuristic apartment in the world of GhostX.

Overall I would say that this game is great for popping in for an hour, gaining a level, or accomplishing a few story tasks. It will run on a variety of machines but will not be very accessible to people with certain mobility issues. It's worth the download and setup just for a look at a game that does stylized art direction right and that keeps the action flowing and fun without becoming too much of a grind. GhostX is just cool, fun, and easy to get into. I was surprised by this little game.

Next week, we will be stepping into the ultra-bright and shiny world of Monster Forest, a game that promises monster-ranching, cafe-owning, and housekeeping. It seems to offer a lot of choices, even if it is likely to kill me with its overly sweet art design. My name in game is Beauhindman.

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Each week, Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. I welcome any suggestions for games -- drop me a note in the comments or email! You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Raptr!