Midnight Ghost Hunt’s first major update includes a new map full of chaotic props: baby dolls with knives and scuttling little legs, lethal forklifts, and soda machines that chase ghost hunters around the map while ejecting soda cans like softballs. I’ve heard of an unsafe workplace before, but this is ridiculous.
Polygon had the chance to try out the new map ahead of time with developer Vaulted Sky Games, and the new doll warehouse is fully stocked 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 scary location, like an abandoned pirate ship or museum. They’re there to hunt down four opponents playing as ghosts, who hide themselves in silly little props and use their spectral abilities to evade capture. For the first five minutes of the match, the ghosts are frail and weak, and the hunters can easily smash them and vacuum their souls up. If the clock strikes midnight and even one ghost remains, the tables turn, and the vicious, empowered ghosts become the hunters.
The newest map highlights the game’s greatest strengths, in that it straddles the line between camp and legitimate terror. There’s the constant heavy background noise of old processing machines run by nobody in particular. Sometimes games involve all four hunters chasing away a panicking ghost. At other times, the ghosts set up an effective jump-scare with a falling sword or exploding cannon. Every time I heard a cat screech or a creepy laugh, I’d duck, because it usually meant a knife-wielding baby doll would be close behind.
Previous maps have their own advantages — the mansion has knight armor with swords that make for a compelling hallway ambush, and the museum is full of globes that can roll away from hunters at mach speed. But in the doll factory, the props at hand are more suited for frontal assaults, giving the ghosts more options in the early game. For instance, they can possess heavy metal gates and turn them into guillotines on unsuspecting hunters. As always, though, possessing these items can be a double-edged sword, as hunters can swarm the heavier, larger props and beat the evil out of them with their weapons, where a smaller prop might sneak away unscathed.
The update improves the hunters’ weapons as well. The shockstick, a short-range weapon that can hit a ghost rapid-fire, now comes with a makeshift stop-sign buckler. Hunters have a better chance to duel it out in the later game with this added utility, and some of the most compelling moments as a hunter come from surprising an angry revenant with a salt shotgun or melee blow. Developer Vaulted Sky Games told Polygon that with weekly patches, along with larger updates like this one, the ghost/hunter win ratio is now getting very close to a clean 50/50 split.
Midnight Ghost Hunt has earned success in streaming communities, and it looks like the developer is leaning into the game’s strengths with the latest map and update. With this improved balance, matches are more thrilling for both sides, as hunters have a better chance to make a desperate last stand after midnight while ghosts can sow much more chaos in the early minutes. The power balance is a little less lopsided. After all, there are few things more distracting than being chased by a furious vending machine rocketing cans of soda at your head.