A Uniquely Flavorful Southeast Asian Affair

When it comes to action-RPGs, a genre that was made popular by the likes of Diablo, there have been many different takes over the years. You have your own looter shooters like Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Hybrid APRG MMO Lost Ark, and more, each game being a recognizable source of inspiration. However, for the Steam Early Access title Ghostlord, created by the duo of Andrew and Adam Teo, the genre’s identity is presented in an unfamiliar guise, that of a Southeast Asian flavor.

Instead of demons and hell, players are introduced to Chinese vampires known as Jiang-Shi, the terrifying Pontianak, Gui-Kia-like spirit kids, and even the Shroud Ghost, known as Pokong. Known in Needless to say, as a fellow Southeast Asian, these are iconic entities that have been the stuff of folklore and legend for decades, are now brought to life as enemies, and exude the excitement and thrill of cultural recognition. It’s hard not to feel. Medium to a pleasant ARPG.

With six classes of Dexterous, Exorcist, Barbarian, Geomancer, Hashahine and Sentinel to choose from, players venture out of Seaport City (a reimagining of Singapore) to rid the world of these evils, while collecting shiny new loot You are more powerful. Each class brings something unique to the table, whether you prefer to get up close and personal with martial arts, or prefer to manipulate elemental forces to do your bidding, among other options.

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Equipment can also make a difference, with different types of weapons shining in the spotlight. Players are free to choose from a choice of parangs, kukri knives, spears, bows and arrows, or krish blades. Amulets are also important for survival by bringing magic into the mix, creating a better shot at overcoming evil.

The action is fast and satisfying, just like one would expect from an ARPG, and the procedurally generated world delivers when it comes to keeping things fresh. The continued reliance on the culture of Southeast Asia is reflected not only in the environment, but also in the form of food, where players can collect ingredients to prepare meals that provide various boosts. It may not be game-changing, but it adds another cultural layer to a familiar gameplay mechanic that will be appealing to locals or others looking to experience something culturally different.

Perhaps what sets Ghostlore apart is its glyph system, which includes magical symbols that you can inscribe on your body to gain new powers. With limited space on the body, which is represented by a grid, players must decide how to increase their current build, whether it’s to increase melee damage, accuracy, or other bonuses.

Ghostlore Glyphs

Add in compound glyphs, which use five spaces instead of one, but provide the added bonus of glyphs that are placed within their configuration, and the room for experimentation becomes even larger. For those who love min-maxing, this system will definitely be right up your alley.

By offering a solid foundation of ARPGs wrapped in the cultural genre of an area that hasn’t really been explored in gaming yet, Ghostlord is certainly banking on the former to attract interest. It remains to be seen whether the latter has the legs to keep players engaged in the long run, but at the very least, it’s a step in the right direction when it comes to being unique in the space. With development still ongoing, Ghostlore is definitely a game worth trying out, as well as keeping an eye out for the future.

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