Ghost On The Shore Review: Gone Rogue

Not Ghost in the Shell as I kept writing, but the emotionally charged tale between one woman and a ghost: a Ghost on the Shore review.

Let me tell you something about Ghost on the Shore that isn’t obvious from the Steam page: it’s a walking simulator. If that disgusts you and you’re about to bail, hold that thought: the pay-off is well worth it, and you’d be a fool not to stick it out.

Developed by like Charlie and published by none other than Applications Systems Heidelberg (who recently released Unforeseen Incidents on the Switch), this first-person exploration is gripping from the start until the finish, depending on which ending you get the first time around.

After acquiring a boat to go ‘find herself’, Riley Sallow gets caught in a storm and forced to dock the boat (read: crash) on the Rogue Islands. Despite their name and the fierce storm, it isn’t such a bad place, but let’s point out that she survives, thanks to the guidance of a ghost.

Ghost On The Shore Review - Tig
Tig. Source: Screen capture

Said ghost is Josh. During the storm, he reaches out to Riley, and they instantly connect, but whether that’s a good thing or not depends on your reaction to him. Ghost on the Shore relies on your input via dialogue choices. There are no puzzles, no risk of death, frustration, or confusion as everything falls nicely into place. Well, one of those isn’t true, but we’ll get there.

The way the interaction works is pretty seamless, and there’s only a short window to respond and no repeating of a phrase. Choices matter, and while there are no game overs, your decision-making will undoubtedly shape your experience and the conclusion to the story. 

Considering that there are no other characters, to some degree, it’s crucial that we can relate to either Riley, Josh, or both. I believed them as characters from the start, often forgetting my role as the player. The voice talent here is brilliant, and I couldn’t fault their performances.

In the beginning, we’re essentially shipwrecked, and Josh is our guide around the islands – only, he doesn’t remember much himself. It’s your job to scout out the area by walking around picturesque locations, idyllic cottages, and hunting for clues regarding the former inhabitants. 

Letters and recordings are located around the islands, piecing together the story: but you have to look for them. Aside from some blue, glowing objects that draw your attention, many items are hidden unless you explore every corner, which doesn’t always guarantee a reward. I’d walk off the track in several spots only to find there was nothing to collect. On the upside, it was a nice, scenic detour.

Besides these clues, Riley will sketch hotspots (accessible from a journal), plus she can also sight numerous collectables to add to the exposition and your growing list of Steam achievements. The core narrative in Ghost on the Shore can’t be missed, though, and this is where it’s comparable to a walking simulator as locations – though beautiful – are linear.

This caused me some frustration as movement is methodical, and you can occasionally miss something while engaged in dialogue with Josh. I have an abundance of patience, but Ghost on the Shore had those moments where I was getting impatient and was hoping for some closure sooner rather than later. But the emotional thread – notably the connection between the two wouldn’t let go, and I was utterly compelled with the way it was heading.

That is to say, I predicted what was going on, but it wasn’t in the slightest a deterrent. The relationship between Riley and Josh (again, that quality of voice acting) was so good that I cared about them both and where the journey was taking them. The inevitable scenes, in my mind, absolutely delivered, and nothing could distract me from the emotional conclusion that followed. I hasten to add that the post-credits music was beautiful.

While Ghost on the Shore has multiple endings and additional achievements for locating all hidden items, I’ll have to admit that I’m not in an immediate hurry to unlock everything or replay anytime soon. That’s not a slur on the game; it’s just that I was very satisfied with my playthrough and its conclusion. 

I loved Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (slightly similar), but it wasn’t until a year or so later after completing it that I eventually went back to get the platinum. In my eyes, that shouldn’t be the motivation for these sorts of games, but whatever floats (or sinks) your boat. For me, though, it’s a thumbs up if you’re the romantic sort and care about story.