(GCN / GameCube)

Geist (GCN / GameCube)

Game Review

Geist Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Dave Letcavage

A Ghost of the Past

Nintendo doesn’t have much of a history when it comes to publishing mature-rated games. In fact, they had never directly released an M-rated game before they published the critically acclaimed Eternal Darkness for the GameCube in 2002. So when it was announced that Nintendo was working closely with developer n-Space on Geist – a supernatural first-person adventure – you can imagine people were paying attention. Unfortunately, when the game released to mediocre reviews, it seemed as if Cube owners chose to ignore it completely. That’s unfortunate because while Geist suffers from a bit of an identity crisis and a handful of technical issues, the sum of its parts come together to create a one-of-a-kind experience that just may leave a haunting impression on your psyche. Maybe it’s time for this under-appreciated spirit to take possession of games players craving a break from the ordinary.

In Geist you’ll play as John Raimi – a scientist assigned to the counter-terrorist team CR-2 – as you’re sent to extract an undercover agent from a mysterious facility owned by the Volks Corporation. It seems that they’ve been suspected of secretly developing a chemical or biological agent and it’s your mission to secure a sample. But as you know, situations like this never seem to work out as planned. After rendezvousing with the undercover agent, things take a turn for the worst as most of your team is killed, and you end up the victim of a procedure that removes your spirit from your physical body. You’ll then haunt the gloomy halls of the facility as you attempt to recover your human form and uncover the secrets of the Volks Corporation.

There is a general misconception amongst many gamers that Geist is a first-person shooter, and while there are a good amount of intense shooting stages throughout the campaign, the focus is more on adventure mechanics and the power of possession. You’ll switch back-and-forth between these two distinct play styles – rarely utilizing them in conjunction – which can sometimes feel as if you’re playing two separate games. The shooting stages are about running-and-gunning while the adventure segments slow things down and require a little more brain power. This is mostly a good thing as it keeps things fresh and engaging throughout, but to be honest, it would’ve been nice to see these mechanics develop into a single cohesive play style by the end of the game.

Shooting sections control exactly like your standard FPS, although they aren’t as finely tuned as you’d expect. At times, aiming can require a high level of precision yet the C-stick is extremely sensitive, making things complicated to say the least. It’s not a problem to shoot an enemy up close but targeting the ones at a distance can prove challenging. You may be able to attribute a few deaths to this inaccuracy but it’s more annoying than it is problematic. Plus, the focus of the game is the far-more-satisfying adventure aspect which occurs when removed from a living host.

When you’re in spirit mode the game controls nearly the same as the shooting segments, except you won’t be able to carry a weapon and you can hover a few feet off the ground. To advance, you’ll have to possess the personnel throughout the facility, but before you can do so you’ll need to do some serious damage to them…psychologically. This can be done by possessing inanimate objects and manipulating them to scare the daylights out of your victims. You’ll even have the opportunity to possess animals such as dogs, bats and rats to gain access to areas which are restricted when in human form. It’s worth noting that you can’t possess every object or living thing in the game, only the ones necessary to the situation at hand.

The campaign is quite beefy and consists of nine levels, each of which is divided into stages. These stages serve as checkpoints and are generally implemented to change between play mechanics. At the end of each level you’ll be greeted with a boss battle or an action sequence. Most of these bosses can be defeated by strafing around the room and firing intermittently but there are some memorable moments and a couple of sequences which require some serious trial and error. The standard enemies you’ll face off against are generic guards, but you’ll also run into a few creatures along the way. Unfortunately though, the AI is incompetent and painfully predictable. An enemy that is under fire is far more likely to either rush you or stand completely still than it is to take cover. They’ll still provide a challenge, but just don’t expect them to outsmart you or react to your developing strategies.

The graphics in Geist, for the most part, hold their own. It’s the limited polygons in the character models and some fuzzy textures that are an eyesore. Occasionally they look so dated and clunky you may feel as if you’re playing Goldeneye or Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64. Also, you can’t escape the unstable frame rate present throughout the campaign. It’s not clear if these blemishes should be blamed on the game engine, the technical limitations of the GameCube or if they were simply overlooked by the developer. Either way, they definitely detract from the experience, but luckily not enough to affect the gameplay.

Geist even brings its unique play mechanics to its various multiplayer offerings. There are three different modes: Possession Deathmatch, Capture the Host and Hunt. The first is your typical deathmatch fare with the inclusion of the possession feature. These arenas are littered with stationary guards that you’ll need to possess in order to eliminate your foes. Capture the Host is a variant of capture the flag where players will have to capture bodies instead of flags. Hunt is a team based game of spirits versus humans. These modes are all surprisingly fun and reminiscent of multiplayer-based shooters from the days of the Nintendo 64. You can also add bots to the equation if you’re looking for a heavily populated battlefield, or simply looking to play solo.

When you first access multiplayer there are only a few arenas to choose from but there are many more to unlock by collecting Host Collectibles throughout the campaign. Collecting these hidden emblems will reveal a slew of new arenas and playable characters. Some may see this as a positive point as it will add replay value to the single-player offering, while others may find it a chore to be forced to earn more levels.


All the issues aside, Geist is a good game, just not a great one. There are many technical problems and a slight unbalance between the two play mechanics, but the originality infused to the story and adventure elements is almost captivating enough to see through those issues. There is a level of inventiveness present here that isn’t witnessed frequently in modern gaming, and it's experiences like this that’ll make you wish more developers would take risks instead of vomiting out the exact same type of game over and over. If you’ve ever dreamt about having the power to be invisible and scaring the living daylights out of unsuspecting victims, then Geist is able to provide enough hauntingly memorable moments to recommend a visit to the Volks Corporation - just expect quite a few frustrations along the way.

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User Comments (34)



Shiryu said:

I love n-Space. Yep, they may not produce Top A quality products all the time and have to make do with porting licensed franchises into Nintendo consoles, but they honestly try and do have great original ideas on their IPs. I have lost any hope of having a "Geist" sequel, but I'm sure it would prove to have very interesting mechanics if on the 3DS or Wii U. Btw, my favourite game from these guys is still "Tron Evolutions Battle Grids" on Wii. Such a underrated gem.



misswliu81 said:

i know a geist sequel for the wii U is highly unlikely, but if it were to happen & fix the flaws that dogged this game, i'd be more than happy to get my hands on it.

geist was pretty solid- i enjoyed it.



hYdeks said:

I use to own this game, I would have probably gave it a lower score lol It's ok, but could have been WAY better.



kyuubikid213 said:

I got Geist a couple months back because I wanted to buy a game I knew nothing about. It was $4, so I figured, "why not?" I was blown away. The game, while it does have its issues, is still an amazing game with solid gameplay and an intriguing story. I give it 8/10. ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆★★



ajcismo said:

I'd score it a 7. Pretty cool concept, but the execution had some flaws. Worth the $4-7 at a used shop for sure.
The 'Cube rocks, this is one game that could use the VC treatment on the Wii U.



Omega said:

It's exactly 7 years ago when I played this game.

I haven't noticed the technical issues mentioned in this review. I think there are just a few people who have problems with controls, aiming and such. Usually, once you get used to the controls, it's no longer an issue.

It's a great mix of FPS and Action Adventure with fairly good graphics. It perfectly creates an atmosphere of threat, fear, evil and the supernatural. Sometimes even reminded me of Resident Evil.

And the idea of possessing objects and trying to scare people away (e.g. as a heating pipe) is just genius. The only other GCN game where I have seen this is Batman Begins. (But without the possessing.)

In terms of length the game took me about 7 days to complete. Nothing to moan about.

Score wise I agree with @kyuubikid213. The game is easily a 8/10 in my opinion. And I have payed the full price for it (57,98 Euro).

BTW: Another great game on the Gamecube that needs more attention is "Second Sight". It's also a mix of FPS and Action Adventure. With a strong story and innovative gameplay. And it's kinda scary too.



millarrp said:

I enjoyed this game when I played it, but I did get frustrated with the controls....I think this one would have benifited from the "new play control" treatment like the Metroid Prime, but that's just my opinion...



Hokori said:

It's sad I might actually enjoy this more then COD, but I haven't played it before, if it comes on the WiiU VC I might get it



DoodleJohn said:

Sounds like Avenging Spirit, as someone said on Avenging Spirit's review.
Any chance someone on AS made this?



CanisWolfred said:

Personally I'm glad I only paid a couple bucks for this. It's okay, but certainly one of, if not THE worst first-party game on the Gamecube.



Tony_342 said:

This review is right on the money. Geist was a very promising game with an intriguing concept, but many of the basic gameplay mechanics were weak and unpolished. I wish they had scrapped the multiplayer mode to focus on improving the single-player experience. But I still remember how striking the atmosphere in this game was at times, especially while floating around as a ghost, looking for your next victim to possess. I enjoyed it when I rented it, but I'm glad I didn't buy it.



ShadJV said:

I own this game... and I think this review was generous. Don't get me wrong, if you find this for a few bucks it's worth picking up... but when it came out, it was rather disappointing for what it could've been. I read quite a few reviews that noted it had so much more potential but was bound by being, well, quite linear. Sure, you could possess creatures and scare people and all that, but it mostly is just a process of scaring and possessing in some order to get from point A to point B. Which would be fine, but it's as if each creature exists solely for you to complete a task with it. Perhaps I'm not wording it right, it just felt like there wasn't much freedom. No red herrings. No point in goofing off with the possession mechanic.

Like I said, a good game, but it was not worth $50, finding it now in a bargain bin is a much better deal. Especially while you still have a Wii with backwards compatibility, because I feel this one is unlikely to reach the Wii U's Virtual Console.



McGruber said:

I remember liking this game, but thinking it was short as hell and I was left wanting more. There was a similar game called Second Sight on 'Cube too t



shredmeister said:

I know there aren't many high scoring reviews for this game. But it IS unique. Seeing through the eyes of other animals is not something you hear about in gaming. It's WORTH trying if you can find a used copy for less than 10 bucks like I did.



Ducutzu said:

I think it's great that you started again posting reviews for older games. It's what brought me on Nintendo Life a couple of years ago.



WaveBoy said:

Where have you been man? So many old time VC-Reviews users seem to just post on the articles, while completely avoiding the forums all together.



Araknie said:

I could never get past the simulation part, i've tried that many times in an arc of years, noppity nope is the answer from the game to me.



Banker-Style said:

I remember playing it on my cousins Cube,and I thought it was a pretty decent game,at the time.



Balaclavab said:

I never found this game frustrating at all, I loved it.
I would give it a 7 or 8
I found the puzzles clever, and the shooting fun while a little un-inventive.
But there is no other game like it, and for a shooting game it had excellent music (well, not as good as timeplitters/perfect dark/ halo, but better than most).
I liked the spiritual, ghost side to it and the interesting bosses.
And Towel Woman and Chef FTW



MeloMan said:

By today's standards, it's worth a play, just don't expect the world when you play it. If you play the game for what it is, then you're likely to enjoy it more as the concept is novel despite the flaws... pretty much what the reviewer said more or less. It's worth a rental if you have nothing else to play imo. And I'd too love to see a sequel...



grenworthshero said:

I've been lurking every now and then. I don't know what happened to all the other oldies, but since most everyone left I haven't been on the forums.



GuyMan said:

I'd give this underrated gem an 8.5 or a 9. For one, Nintendo published an M rated game. That and the puzzles are clever, shooting strangely felt good to me, & the levels always managed to fit the possession mechanic.



Number_6 said:

I just picked up this game for next to nothing, since I have pretty much every decent Wii game and haven't spent the $ for a Wii U yet. It's a lot of fun, I think it is underrated. It's not a pure FPS, which is kinda refreshing. I haven't completed it yet, but after 8-10 hours I would give it a 8 or possibly even higher. I think the controls are fine. It can be a little linear, but not so much that it isn't fun.



RegalSin said:

The game was awesome until the big desert shoot out scene and the shooting gallery. It felt like an Anti-semetic-Afganistan garbages in those areas of the game.

I was getting headaches after head-aches trying to finish the shooting area. My head was hurting and hurting from the "Brainwashing" portion of the game itself. You know where they brainwash souls and spirits.

Otherwise I really hated the shooting area of the game itself. It was so sad and boring. I really hated it and all. I hate it so much.

Then to make things worst is the final enemy which is just you pushing the button at the right moment floating around in the middle of nothingness.
I expected the soul or inner body of an person to be more exciting but otherwise this game was terrible for the things I mentioned.

Everything else in this game was fun and awesome as well. The scaring, the spirit battles, the super suit, and everything else. Just not the shooting gallery, brainwashing sequence, and the final boss. Those things was boring.

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