Demon’s Souls to the Souls-like universe is sort of like what Phasmophobia is to asymmetrical horror; the two bare the right to be household names in a category that’s anything but starved of noteworthy keepsakes. Even today, or in 2023 in general, neither of the two titleholders yield to any rising flames — even the likes of Paranormal Hunter, a new and surprisingly headstrong candidate that boasts all the same qualities as any modern cooperative horror.
Of course, this isn’t to say Paranormal Hunter isn’t a powerhouse of an IP in its own right. On the contrary, the EALoGAMES-led entry is actually a pretty solid game — doubly so with its VR functionalities and cross-platform support. That said, is it a better game than Phasmophobia — visually, aurally, or even mechanically? Now that’s a question we’ll only be able to answer by breaking up the components and analysing them with a fine-tooth comb. Best get down to it, then.
What Is Phasmophobia?
For those who have yet to fully immerse in the paranormal world of Phasmophobia, one can only describe it as being a four-player survival game—a title in which each player takes on the role of an investigator in a entity-riddled location. As one of the four characters, you must work with your team to not only document the dead, but use your tools to identify which type of ghost it is that’s lurking from beyond the grave. These are encased within randomly generated contracts, with each contract consisting of a different location and poltergeist to identify.
On paper, the gig is simple: enter a shadowy abyss of a derelict world with four key items—a flashlight, thermometer, UV light, and an EMF reader. With such tools glued to your Ghostbusters-like utility belt, you and your squad must not only unearth the location of the ghost, but also document its behaviour and characteristics, mainly in the hope of figuring out which of the game’s ten or so poltergeists it is that’s wreaking havoc on those who dare to trespass. Easier said than done, of course, what with each ghost having the power to not only toy with your anxiety, but actually murder you in a cloak and dagger-type fashion.
As it stands, Phasmophobia has roughly twelve maps to explore, with the vast majority of them being made up of relatively small suburban homes and the likes. In spite of its devs removing the odd level or two in recent months, the project itself is still ongoing, as are the seasonal patches and updates. So, in case you ever had any concerns about being too late to the party, rest assured that there’s still plenty more to come.
What Is Paranormal Hunter?
Paranormal Hunter isn’t all that different from Phasmophobia, in the fact that your primary task is to unearth and identify the ghosts haunting one of several locations. However, unlike Phasmophobia—a game in which your only duty is to identify the ghost—Paranormal Hunter asks that you also banish it, too. And to do that, you and your squad of four must search for sigils around the map, with which you must enter a summoning circle and send the spirit out to pasture.
Again, it all sounds rather straightforward on paper, but due to the game being a survival horror (emphasis on the survival aspect), it does mean each hunt is laden with death-defying challenges and obstacles for you and your team to sift through. For the most part, though, your only real objective is to scavenge for sigils while staying under the radar of those looking to haunt you. Sound easy? It isn’t. But then, like a lot of online multiplayer games, it often boils down to the team you’re left with, and the compatibility you’re able to produce in the shortest possible time.
Like Phasmophobia, Paranormal Hunter is still in its early access phase, which means there’s still a lot left to tap into. And believe me when I say, there’s a lot that needs tapping into, more so in its gameplay department than anywhere else. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that still needs tweaking, and in its current state there are one too many technical faults to let the genuinely likeable aspects of the game shine.
Gameplay & Setting
While you’re likely to find more dangerous feats to overcome in Paranormal Hunter, the truth is, its buggy mechanics and technical flaws tend to spoil the immersion and overall experience. It can be better, and it deserves to be better. But for the time being, it’s somewhat difficult to recommend Paranormal Hunter without listing copious amounts of unwanted caveats. And the same just can’t be said with Phasmophobia.
Of course, the gameplay in both of the competing titles is noticeably similar. So much, that it’s easy to mistake one for the other, and vice versa. That said, given the fact that Phasmophobia offers additional ghost hunting tools, maps, and poltergeists to chase, it does bring us to the conclusion that it is, all things considered, the better choice of the two.
Maybe we just arrived at the scene a little too early? Maybe the devs needed a little more time to cross the t’s and dot the i’s? Whatever the case may be, the fact remains clear: Paranormal Hunter, as great of a love letter to asymmetrical horror as it is, is still missing something that many games of its kind spend years trying to find. Does this mean we’re done with it? Not at all. But right now, we just can’t recommend it. Or at least, not until it irons out its creases, anyway.
That, of course, brings us to Phasmophobia, a game that has single-handedly managed to come into its own without the technical drama. Fact is, it’s a far better choice for anyone looking to immerse in a full-fat, ever-changing multiplayer experience. It’s atmospherically on point, and hands down one of the most compelling ghost games ever created — straight up.
To answer the question of which of the two games is better — it’s Phasmophobia, without fail. But don’t let that steer you away from checking out Paranormal Hunter. Sure, it may be a little goofy and half-baked, but there’s something there in the underbelly of its code that could, if given the time of day, conjure up a half-decent scare of two. Just not in 2023, as it goes.
So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our verdict? Which do you prefer — Paranormal Hunter, or Phasmophobia? Let us know your thoughts over on our socials here.