Midnight Ghost HuntThe first major update of introduces a new map full of messy props: baby dolls with knives and scurrying little legs, deadly forklifts and soda machines chasing ghostbusters across the map while ejecting soda cans like softballs. I’ve heard of an unsafe place to work, but this is it ridiculous.
Polygon had the chance to preview the new map with developer Vaulted Sky Games, and the new Doll Camp is packed with a healthy mix of nightmares and slapstick antics.
The concept of Midnight Ghost Hunt is simple – a group of four amateur ghost hunters enter a spooky place, like an abandoned pirate ship or museum. You’re there to hunt down four opponents who play as ghosts who hide in silly little props and use their spooky abilities to evade capture. For the first five minutes of the game, the spirits are fragile and weak, and the hunters can easily crush them and suck up their souls. When the clock strikes midnight and only one ghost remains, the tide turns and the evil, powerful ghosts become hunters.
The latest map highlights the game’s greatest strengths, crossing the line between camp and legitimate terror. There is the constant loud background noise of old processing machines that are not particularly operated by anyone. Sometimes games involve all four hunters chasing away a panicked ghost. At other times, the spirits will perform an effective leap scare with a falling sword or an exploding cannon. Every time I heard a cat screech or a creepy laugh, I ducked because it usually meant a knife-wielding baby doll was close behind me.
Earlier maps have their own perks – the manor has suits of armor with swords that make for a convincing hallway ambush, and the museum is packed with globes that can roll away from hunters at mach speed. But in the Doll Factory, the existing props are more suited to frontal attacks, giving the ghosts more options in the early game. For example, they can possess heavy metal gates and turn them into guillotines for unsuspecting hunters. As always, however, owning these items can be a double-edged sword, as hunters can swarm the heavier, larger props and weaponize the evil out of them, while a smaller prop could sneak away unscathed.
The update also improves the weapons of the hunters. The Shockstick, a short-range weapon capable of hitting a Ghost Rapid Fire, now comes with a makeshift stop sign round shield. Hunters have a better chance of dueling in the later game with this added benefit, and some of the most compelling moments as a Hunter come from surprising an enraged revenant with a salt shotgun or melee punch. Developer Vaulted Sky Games told Polygon that with weekly patches along with major updates like this one, the Ghost/Hunter win ratio is now very close to a clean 50/50 split.
Midnight Ghost Hunt has found success in streaming communities, and it looks like the developer is focusing on the game’s strengths with the latest map and update. With this improved balance, matches are more exciting for both sides, as Hunters have a better chance of making a desperate last stand past midnight, while Ghosts can sow much more chaos in the early minutes. The current account is somewhat less one-sided. After all, few things are more distracting than being chased by an angry vending machine shooting soda cans in your head.