Ghosts Attack Hands-On Preview

If you’ve read the His Dark Materials trilogy, you’re familiar with the concept of an alternate universe, placed directly over ours, where every point on our globe opens up to another dimension of ghosts and spiritual energy. How would you like to navigate that alien terrain using Google Maps?

That’s the basic concept of Ghosts Attack, an upcoming shooter by Tarver Games, where you’re hired by the corporation Torgan Science to help map this strange new environment. With your guide Karl, who will direct you to different hotspots, you’ll set off to explore this oddly familiar landscape in a flying rover. That is, until ghosts attack.

Some of these ghosts are remnants of other scientists that Torgan has sent before, and a big part of the story is finding out what happened to those earlier expeditions. Your rover flies using tilt controls, and you can accelerate using a slider on the left side of the screen. Various energy shots on the right side will let you zap any ghosts who try to suck away your rover’s energy.

One nice thing about Ghosts Attack is that it lets you visit alternate-reality versions of cities like Athens and London without leaving your comfy couch. You do this through the Google Maps interface, which is integrated into the stage select screen.

You can also exit the game’s missions at any time and go explore your own alternate neighborhood, but in this preview build we didn’t see a big difference between the game levels and our own home in the game world. The visual style of Ghosts Attack is highly abstract, so don’t expect realistic visuals at all.

A few different objectives in each location, like traveling a certain distance or killing a certain number of ghosts, give the gameplay its variety. But really, it’s the story that kept us interested. Ghosts Attack is meant to be the “pilot” of an episodic series, and we’re interested to see where this story goes.

We don’t think this is a game that shows off the iPhone’s graphical capabilities, but the Google Maps twist and creative storytelling do have us intrigued. Ghosts Attack is due out later this month.