Indie ghost hunter Phasmophobia is a Steam top seller

(Image credit: Kinetic Games)

With Halloween approaching, people looking for chills seem to be finding them in Phasmophobia. It's a paranormal co-op deal, with four players searching for ghosts in dark, abandoned locations. It launched in Early Access last month, but since the start of October it's become increasingly busy, with up to 80,000 investigators regularly exploring haunted buildings at the same time. 

All these ghost hunters have kicked Phasmophobia almost to the peak of the Steam top sellers list—Baldur's Gate 3 is still above it—and 22 in the top games by player count. This has no doubt been boosted by its popularity on Twitch, where it's one of the most watched games of the last week. 

It's an indie horror game in a sea of indie horror games, and an Early Access one at that, so it's been a surprise to see it climbing. But it does stand out. It's an investigative affair, slow and methodical, and one where you've got a team to clutch onto when things get dire—which they absolutely will. It can optionally be played in VR, too, but the real next-level immersion comes from the fact that the game can hear you, so when you talk to your buds through the local chat and radio, the ghosts know you're talking, and they can even talk back. 

Rich Stanton reckons it's the best ghost game ever made, so you might say he's a fan. "[T]he beating heart of this experience is unlike anything else I've played," he says. "The experience depends on camaraderie and communication, as well as a decent smack of bravery, and the ghosts will mess with that combination in ways equally surprising and horrifying." 

I suspect if it was exclusively VR, it wouldn't be quite so high up—Half-Life: Alyx is a bit of an anomaly in that regard—but there is something exceedingly appealing about feeling like you're actually stuck in a haunted building, with spirits listening to you whisper and fret, waiting to scare the absolute shit out of you right when you're at your most vulnerable. Actually, I take it all back, that sounds absolutely horrible.

The £11/$14 price tag makes it tempting even in its Early Access state, and according to solo developer Kinetic Games the price will stay the same until launch, after which it'll be raised. Early Access will last until next year, but there's no release date yet. More equipment, maps, ghosts and other things that might be suggested by the community will be thrown into the mix for the full version. In the meantime, there are seven maps that you can explore right now.  

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.