Platforms: PC | Playstation 3 (Reviewed) | Xbox 360
Developer: Behavior Studios
A top-down, twin-stick arcade shooter with up to four co-operative Ghostbusters putting to rest the mischievous souls of the undead? What's not to like? Sanctum of Slime has all the elements of a classic retro throwback to the likes of Smash TV, but can developers Behavior Santiago - located in Chile of all places - carry the mantel of Murray and co and deliver the first good Ghostbusters game in what feels like an age?
Or is Sanctum of Slime just a slippery, unpleasant mess? Let's find out...
As one of four rookie Ghostbusters tasked by the original team with exploring and clearing out a variety of haunted locations, Sanctum of Slime is a brand new adventure in the series' mythos rather than picking on a particular film-line or what have you. And yet, while the likes of Venkman and Spengler pop up in the animated cutscenes, Sanctum of Slime is devoid of the heart and wit that made an entire generation fall in love.
This wouldn't be so bad if the gameplay was up to scratch. After all, Sanctum of Slime is a cheap to make, cheap to play sort of a game. You're not expecting a top-tier story with Hollywood production values - although good writing costs nothing. Gameplay in Sanctum of Slime consists of shooting the wide variety of ghosts and ghouls that litter your path in the segmented sprawl of the game's environments, which riff on classic locations from the films.
It's a little like Geometry Wars, with you backpedaling, strafing or circling around as you unleash a never-ending stream of undead-purging energy. Your sole weapon in the game has color-coded ammunition, with you having to match the color to a specific ghost. The yellow ammo, for example, is more like a shotgun, coughing bursts to vaporize cowardly-colored ghouls.
I'll be honest; Sanctum of Slime really isn't very good. The fundamental issue of shooting and thus having fun - as shooting is all you'll do, don't expect much in the way of variety - just isn't good enough. For one, the way the game locks you in each room, forcing you to clear out its occupants before passing, feels overbearingly old-school and, in the tight confines of each stage, very choking.
And shooting itself just doesn't feel fun. It hasn't got the visceral rattle of a rifle or the concussive thump of, say, a shotgun. And while I'm not criticizing it for that, a high-tech weapon that spouts radioactive energy should have an oomph to it. Instead, it's more akin to spraying a multicolored fire-hose, with the ghosts and ghouls barely reacting to being shot, only emphasizing the lack of involvement.
And on the subject of shooting ghosts, boy is that annoying. Their health is so high, and your weapons so seemingly weak, that even with four players focusing on one particularly beefy ghost, you can be strafing around, doing this for minutes. Might not sound too bad, but when you're doing this for the dozenth time is just a slog. The less said of the boss-battles, the better.
Co-Operate For Fun
Sanctum of Slime can be played with up to three of your mates, and the results are a lot more bearable with friends than without. At least you can formulate something resembling a strategy within the game's choking design. Combing the various color-coded streams or reviving fallen teammates has its own particular appeal, although it's still very basic stuff you've seen before.
And you'll want to fill the three slots with friends - or even strangers with some intellect - as the friendly AI is dumb. Obviously, the developers neglected to implement anything considering survival into their thinking, as they'll run headlong into danger, not even firing the appropriate ammunition or with any regard for rest of the team, like some headless chicken hefting a proton-pack.
Which is a pity, as if the developers had either upped the AI's intelligence or included something in the game that required proper team-play, Sanctum of Slime might not be as forgettable an experience. As it stands, it's not a particularly bad game. It is lazy, however, and repetitive and a slog at the best of times, and as such our wait for a good Ghostbusters game goes on.
- A fun old-school vibe
- Imaginative ghosts and ghouls
- Co-op has its moments
- Painfully repetitive and slow
- Shooting is flimsy and unresponsive
- AI, both enemy and friendly, is abysmal
The Short Version: Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime has all the potential in the world to be a fun, affordable experience for Ghostbusters fans and twin-stick shooter affiaciandos alike. But instead, its bogged down by poor progression, weak shooting mechanics and an utterly forgettable plot with characters that appear and disappear like their series' namesakes.