The Outbound Ghost is an RPG by Conradical Games, in which you play as a group of ghosts in a town where everyone is dead.
Instead of having your main characters fight, battles take place using Figments, aspects of the self like Regret and Trust that protect you against Apparitions, ghosts not everyone can see that attack you on sight. This allows for many more party members than there are characters, but they also lack personality.
Combat sees you picking actions from a menu, then doing a bar-based timing minigame to decide whether you deal damage or miss. There are a few interesting quirks to the system; you can skip a turn in order to store an Action Point, which then allows you to act twice on a future turn. Both you and enemies can stack up to three status effects of any type, with any new statuses wiping away the oldest ones.
Unfortunately, the combat has a serious problem with bosses. Most bosses are given an immense amount of health alongside powerful buffs, debuffs, or attacks that can one-shot a party member, and all enemies have infinite mana. On top of this, your healer can revive, heal, and recover mana forever without letting your team die.
This means difficult battles are ten-plus-minute battles of attrition where you have no choices to make, and you spend them spamming the same healing and damage moves. It can be hard to tell you’re slowly losing until several minutes into the fight, which is a waste of time. Easy battles are forgone conclusions, as you can win by spamming your most powerful abilities, and you’re healed to full after every fight. It feels like filler due to the poor balancing, and boss fights are the only required fights unless you need to grind.
The game also features a linear map you can explore side paths on to find extra rewards. However, most of the rewards are useless, the maps are overly large and take ages to navigate, and there are random battles that you’ll come to despise, so it’s not fun to explore.
There’s also a lockpicking minigame that is often completely pointless, asking you to move a key across the screen into the lock, and there are literally no other minigames.
The character art imitates the Paper Mario style well, with cute ghostly characters and funny expressions. The music also contributes to the charming atmosphere, although it gets repeated way too often. Unfortunately, the story is where the game completely collapses.
At the start, it’s a charming but poorly written story with likeable but shallow characters, but they get even more shallow as time goes on. Somebody has poisoned the Town of Outbound, then killed the remnants, but solving the mystery isn’t the core point of the game. The goal of the story is unclear and silly, with most of the game revolving around an extended chase sequence instead of resolving the questions the game raises about the nature of Figments.
Ghosts can ascend to the afterlife after they lift the emotional burden keeping them as ghosts, but the writing rushes through resolving them. On top of that, the ending is baffling, involving a perspective change flashback that reveals the killer, then just splashes up “The End.” There’s some post-game content featuring a new character that lets you fight extra powerful bosses, but the main story is finished.
I cannot recommend buying this game to any type of player. If you’ve played Paper Mario and Bug Fables and are looking for more of the same, this isn’t it. It also isn’t worth your time on its own merits, being a decent first game with a lot of passion that ends in monotony.
The Outbound Ghost is out now on PC for $19.99, with a console release planned for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and S.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for The Outbound Ghost.