Halloween is coming and I recently discovered this game thanks to @LomoFear, which is ideal for this winter season if you like scary games/movies and play with friends. I’ve been completely caught up with this game and I can’t stop playing it.
In Phasmophobia, you’re part of a crew (1-4 people) that got a contract to investigate a ghost sighting in a house. Your objective is to collect evidence and identify the ghost. You can’t expel the ghost but the ghost can kill you.
For me this is like the Ghostbuster movie but in a low tech fashion, maybe more “realistic” in the sense that it’s more accurate to the actual lore. If you like mystery and ghosts in real life you’ll see that everything is more or less depicted in the game as it is in real life. I don’t (or no longer) believe in ghost myself, but I like all the stuff around them, it feels scary and interesting.
Phasmophobia will make you paranoid. It’s a game where almost never anything happens, at which point you’ll doubt yourself about if you actually saw or heard something or not. But, when something actually happens, oh boy… you’re about to die. Run!
You count with basic tech to locate and identify the ghost, which it is all unreliable. Some of the stuff is an EMF Reader (Electro-magnetic Field reader), UV Light (fingerprints), a radio (electronic voice phenomena/EVP), and a Ghost book. With these devices (and some extras you can buy) you go inside and keep testing to see if you can detect anything.
The game can be played alone, and up to four players together. There is a voice button to talk, and a radio button. The voice only reaches a few meters, while the radio is everyone together. But the radio will stop working when the ghost starts hunting.
Ghost hunts are freaking scary. When the ghost gets angry and fed up with your presence, it will go all-out hunting for you, and it will try to kill someone. When it happens, the lights start flickering, sometimes even if they’re off, and the flashlight as well. Run! But you cannot outrun the ghost, your best bet is to find a hiding spot, shut up, and turn your flashlight off.
Some of the optional objectives are taking a photo of the ghost, or stop a ghost hunt with a crucifix. These can be risky and sometimes it’s best just to leave them out if you’re not confident. Safety first!
If the ghost haunts you, you’ll watch a 5-sec terror scene, and then you’ll move into the world of the dead. You cannot communicate with your teammates anymore, your body will be on the ground and everything has a blue tint. You can hear and see them, and you’ll be able to watch the game more effectively. I’m not sure, but I think the ghost is easier to see when you’re dead already. If you’re alone, or all teammates die, the game ends. If you die, you lose your equipment. In Amateur difficulty you’ll get back 50% of its value from the insurance, while in Professional is all lost. If you didn’t invest any personal equipment that you bought, nothing will be lost.
I don’t know why it’s so appealing to pursue something invisible, but I’m totally caught with this game. Also, I cannot play for long periods (>3h), I get tired. Probably this constant sense of danger and paranoia gets me tired. I can sense my heart ramping up at times.
My tips and recommendations
I’ve played a bit already (~20h) and I’m noticing that people tend to do the same mistakes again and again. If you’re kind of new into the game, maybe these tips help.
1. Don’t rush
The game is not timed. Yes, there’s a 5 minute timer for amateur & intermediate difficulty to set things up, but that’s it. If the timer reaches zero, staying in the truck for 1 hour will not make things any worse.
The timer it’s only to make sure the ghost will not start hunting straight away, you will consume it in the first trip anyway, so make the most of it. Even in professional when there’s no timer, the game doesn’t actually start until you open the front door. So, plan ahead calmly, get the stuff you need near the front door, and think of a plan.
2. Always run
If you enter the house, I expect you have a plan on what to do, which path are you going to follow and what evidence are you trying to collect. If you have that, then make it as efficient as possible. Don’t roam more than enough, and hold the shift key all the time to make the trip as fast as possible.
I know, holding the shift key doesn’t provide you much more speed, but if it’s a 20% faster, you’ll end in 20% less time, and that counts. Also you don’t get tired, so there’s no point on not running.
Unless you’re hiding. Run to reach your safe spot, close doors, and then stay quiet, calm, and don’t run. Crouch as well. You’re playing hide&seek with a ghost, you don’t want to make noises or light changes.
3. Buy & carry a thermometer
The first pass is the most important, you want to locate the ghost room or at least narrow down the area. If the place isn’t too big (i.e. a house), a thermometer is the best tool to do this.
Most ghosts don’t produce freezing temps, but most of them cool down the room where they are (but not always). The thermometer is an infrared one that displays the temp where its pointing at. Just pointing inside a room for 0.5 sec is enough to get a reading, so that makes the thermometer a tool that can very reliably locate the ghost in no time.
This item is not on the default ones, so it’s the first one I recommend to buy. Having 2 thermometers and a friend will speed up this process quite a lot. I don’t recommend having more than 2 people with the thermometer unless you are in a big map (university or asylum) and plan carefully each one to sweep a different area.
Some ghost don’t lower temperature, while other ghost could do it after 5-10 minutes of activity. So, not finding anything is normal, and it might be worth a second sweep later. 80% of the time the first sweep of the thermometer is enough to pinpoint the room.
The second most useful item to sweep rooms is the EMF Reader. The problem with this one is that it won’t detect anything unless the ghost touches something or has strong activity. So sweeping with this is unreliable. This tool both works in directional (scan what you point to) and in omni (scan nearby). If you put it on the ground and the ghost is active very close to it (0.5 meters more or less) it will lit up, and when handling it if you point to objects it will scan them, so you can understand which object was touched.
4. Be quiet and follow the sounds
The ghosts usually like to make their presence known, they will tell you where they are. If a sweep is not a good option or does not provide any result, the best way is to just hear.
If you anticipate that this is going to be a problem, bring some sound sensors, and place them on strategic locations across the map on the first sweep. But they’re expensive and you’ll want from two to four of them. These cover a great area and hear trough walls. Just be sure to face them properly as they’re directional.
If you don’t touch anything or open most doors (or if you can remember the state of the doors and light switches) you can also locate the activity because something has moved. On some houses you can see it clearly because there’s stuff on the ground that belongs on a table (cutlery, dishes,…). On other maps you’ll rely on doors and lights.
But in the end, the most important thing here is that the ghost is constantly making some noises. It activates sinks, moves objects, rings the phone, activates alarms, opens and closes doors… all these things make noises. Follow them without fear, if you can’t locate the sound source, try to go to the same point in the map you’re hearing from but in a different floor. The ghost tends to roam near its room, so even if the room where you found activity isn’t the ghost room, it’s nearby.
The parabolic sound sensor doesn’t work for me. My hearing seems to be better than this sound sensor. But the in-wall sound sensors (the regular ones) are nice because you can wait on the truck to locate activity. You can stay as much as you want there, it’s safe and there are no penalties for doing that.
5. You don’t need to locate the actual ghost room
Yes, the ghost has a room, and this is kind of it’s base of operations. It will roam from there and go back to the room. It’s useful to locate it because EMF Readers, Spirit box, fingerprints, etc will most probably appear in that room. But, remember this isn’t a must. These things activate not on the ghost room, they activate upon a ghost.
So, if you know that a ghost is usually roaming certain place, you may get results just in a corridor. It takes more time because it needs both the ghost passing by and willing to do something (talking, writing, touching some stuff, etc).
For example, if you saw the ghost touching a door or a light switch, you can test them for fingerprints. They don’t always appear, but if the ghost just did it, it’s likely to be visible if the ghost leaves fingerprints.
Also, on camera, if you see the ghost moving stuff but you can’t see orbs, you can almost discard the ghost having these. The orbs also follow the ghost. Cooler temps also follow the ghost, so the thermometer can be used to know if the ghost is in the same corridor or room as you are.
6. There are secondary tips to classify a ghost
Different ghost show different behavior. For example, if you put down the ghost guest book and you notice it kicks it, assume it doesn’t like it. Most probably that ghost is not one that writes. Poltergeists have a tendency to do this.
Jinns for example like to mess up with electrical items, and have a tendency to prefer lights up. If you hear that it starts radios, heaters, and strangely it doesn’t stop the lights,it might be a Jinn. Remember that the breaker might trip if too many things are on at the same time, and this is not a ghost doing anything. If you think it’s a Jinn, turning off the breaker or making it trip by adding to many lights will weaken the ghost.
Demons tend to be really active, aggressive. While the Mare is really scary and will shut down all the lights and make the scene as dark as possible. Revenants are hard to pinpoint because they don’t get active unless you get close, but when you get close they get really angry, these are quite dangerous.
Also, lack of evidence can also be evidence. If you’re sure that you got the location right and it doesn’t do something, well, give it time, but you can start thinking on discarding that evidence altogether. The EMF Level 5 is the hardest to discard because you need really strong activity in front of the reader; I use to place the reader in the view of a camera to monitor it from the truck. The problem is this does not work well with Revenants, as they will become inactive when you leave.
7. Stay on the truck, someone
Rookie mistake, except for the first sweep, it doesn’t make sense to have all four people in the field, you’re wasting precious team sanity. Set up the basic stuff and leave one teammate in the truck. Someone has to watch cameras, activity, sound sensors and sanity.
After a trip or two, rotate the teammate, this will even the sanity. You want sane people inside, insane people outside.
Setup the area to do the stuff from outside, remotely. The activity will go up eventually, even without anyone inside (except Revenants). Give the ghost time to write, to leave fingerprints and to roam around.
8. Don’t call the ghost name
A lot of people like to shout the ghost name again and again. This angers them. There’s no need of doing that until you have it classified. Angering a ghost, provoking him, is useful just to do optional objectives: taking photos, surviving hunts, etc.
On the Spirit Box, avoid the ghost name and just ask for something easy like: How old are you? What is your gender?
Some phrases may anger it, and you don’t need an angry ghost, at least until is properly identified.
Running Phasmophobia on Linux
If you know me, you know that I don’t use Windows or Mac, just Linux. So if I’m recommending this game is because it does work properly.
Steam is able to install it properly with proton out of the box, no tweaks needed. The game will not use voice recognition, but the spirit box will talk alone. So it’s perfectly playable, single and multiplayer.
The only issue I found is that there are FPS dips, it lags sometimes without explanation. I tried a few things that helped quite a bit:
I updated to the beta-unstable channel. The devs are working on these issues and the beta should be more performant.
I forced the use of a newer proton. In my case I tried the 5.2-GE which is a fork I manually installed for other games. I don’t think we need the fork, just the latest 5.x proton should suffice. This seemed to help.
Finally I reduced the quality of the shadows (resolution), I was seeing input and redraw lag, which was solved after lowering the shadows.
Out of the box was playable, but after the tweaks it’s performing quite nicely.
I love the game, give it a try. I got it for about 12 euros, which I think it’s quite cheap. There’s also a cheat-sheet here that I found useful: https://un0btanium.github.io/phasmophobia-cheatsheet/
Let me know what you think!