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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Das Geisterschiff

Infinitron

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Tags: Das Geisterschiff; Graverobber Foundation

If you're like me, you may have once thought that zwanzig_zwoelf was just some dude who spent all his time shitposting in our Shoutbox. It turns out he'd spent the last few years teaching himself Unity and working on his first game - Das Geisterschiff, a cyberpunk-themed wireframe dungeon crawler which he finally released back in September (and on Steam in November). Since then, zwanzig has periodically whined politely requested that we review it. It took a while, but in the end Darth Roxor himself stepped up to perform the task. His conclusion? Das Geistershiff is a decent first attempt which is more cleverly designed than it may first appear to be, though it's too short and simple to be considered great. Here's an excerpt:

To dismiss the most obvious bit first, despite calling itself a dungeon crawler, and certainly being one, Das Geisterschiff is not an RPG. There’s no character creation or inventory, statistics are limited to the bare minimum like accuracy, evasion and health, you have four different guns, and that’s basically it.

Then what’s left? A weird mash-up of features that ends up fairly compelling in practice. You are the pilot of a combat suit sent on covert ops that involve prowling through maze-like levels with step-based movement and blasting various undesirables in turn-based combat.

The combat works on an I-go-you-go basis, and though the narrow list of basic building blocks highlighted above could make it seem very simple, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Das Geisterschiff compensates the simplicity with many minor mechanics and quirks that give the gameplay more involvement than just shooting and ending turn.

For starters, all your guns are very distinct and fit for different purposes. The submachine gun is effective at short range and boosts your evasion, the assault rifle is better for longer engagements but makes you move like a slug, the laser rifle is more of a tool for busting through locked doors or mines since it’s too easily dodged by enemies, while the bazooka is a weapon of last resort with great damage but low ammo and splash damage that can also harm you if not handled with care. Choosing the right gun for the job is important, as enemies are varied in movement speed (some can move two steps in combat), behaviour and stats.

Another important thing to consider are your surroundings. Often it’s better to run away from an enemy than waste ammo and health, but for that you need a winding path where you could safely lose the heat. You can also gain advantage from high ground by standing on top of ramps or try to lead baddies into the vicinity of mines and blast them for splash damage, although truth be told you’re more likely to step into them yourself.

Since movement is paired with shooting, and you don’t have to choose one or the other, this gives you some more options as well. You can backpedal and shoot incoming melee enemies or hide behind a corner, then charge and fire off a burst from your smg as they get close. Or you can go for a straight-up crash course and ram the gits, though this makes both you and the target take damage – calculated by comparing the weights of both combatants – which will also let you shoot after the ramming is done. But you have to be careful, because dodging a ramming attack gives the combatant a free action – whether it’s moving back, counter-ramming or shooting, it’s never pretty for those on the receiving end.

You could still argue that all of this sounds basic, and I agree, but the thing is – it works. Thanks to all this, Das Geisterschiff rarely falls into a routine of predictable/throwaway encounters, because something can always go wrong, not to mention that they work well at burning through your resources. These would be health, which can be replenished if you find extra armour plating in a level, and ammunition, which can’t be refilled at all, and which makes running from unnecessary encounters all the more important.

However, there’s one big bummer that strips the combat of many of its merits, and that’s the enemy AI. I can understand simple bots being dumb, but the game also involves fights with enemy commandos who are just as likely to fall for the cheapest of tricks and who sometimes act in odd ways. For example, if you go into a minefield and combat starts, you’d expect your foe to wait for you to come through the hazard, but no, they’re in fact very happy to clear the way for you, often leaving themselves vulnerable once they need to reload after shooting the mines. Further, and this is a much bigger problem, running away from enemies is often as easy as moving around a column in circles until they lose interest and leave.

Finally, I think a major oversight that doesn’t let the combat really shine, and which lends itself to some of the AI exploits, is that you always face single enemies. If they came at least in pairs sometimes, you’d have to think much harder about tackling them efficiently, be careful about getting cornered, etc. Bonus points if you could also turn them against each other with friendly fire or just pre-scripted animosity.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Das Geisterschiff
 

Mustawd

Guest
Not bad. Sure, I’ll drop $10 for this as a Christmas Gift to myself.

ZZ, is the DLC just addition just more music?

Also, I like Roxor’s idea about multiple enemies per encounter.

Original game

OG?
 

zwanzig_zwoelf

Graverobber Foundation
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ZZ, is the DLC just addition just more music?
It's a music album and an addition to the OST DLC.

Also, I like Roxor’s idea about multiple enemies per encounter.
Been willing to have this for a long time as well, but limitations assigned when I still struggled with the basics kept me from doing this.

Getting stuck between two enemies (who also don't like each other), switching to submachine gun and then making them shoot each other by accident by evading their attacks would be glorious to say the least.
 

lightbane

Arcane
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Dec 27, 2008
Messages
10,241
Welp, I wanted to write my own small review at Steam, but with this entry from Roxor in such prestigious webpage, that may no longer be necessary (since Codexers and old-school fans will likely be the crowd the game caters to).

To be fair, one thing the review doesn't mention is that supposedly there's a big content patch coming next month, one which adds an extra level and more stuff to make the game lengthier.
 

J_C

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Project: Eternity Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath
Great review. Was scratching my head seeing the hungarian word "Kísértethajó" at the last paragraph, but after a quick google search it turns out that the game's title means Ghost Ship, which is Kísértethajó in hungarian. Nice.
 

Mustawd

Guest
Great review. Was scratching my head seeing the hungarian word "Kísértethajó" at the last paragraph, but after a quick google search it turns out that the game's title means Ghost Ship, which is Kísértethajó in hungarian. Nice.

Whats the Hungarian word mean? Battery or something?
 

J_C

One Bit Studio
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Project: Eternity Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath
Great review. Was scratching my head seeing the hungarian word "Kísértethajó" at the last paragraph, but after a quick google search it turns out that the game's title means Ghost Ship, which is Kísértethajó in hungarian. Nice.

Whats the Hungarian word mean? Battery or something?
No, Kísértethajó is ghost ship in hungarian. Just as the game's title (geisterschiff) is ghost ship in german.
 

zwanzig_zwoelf

Graverobber Foundation
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デゼニランド
So how many copies sold so far? There are 7 reviews on Steam so I'm guessing 7.
From the top of my head: ~150 copies so far if you take a few dozen copies on Itch into account. It sells 1-3 copies a day after the initial sale ended, but hopefully it'll pick up the pace once I'll get around to new sales and/or get 10+ Steam reviews. Since dungeon crawlers in general tend to have slow starts and long tails it's doing pretty ok.
 

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