Going Back to the Late 90s

Once upon a time, arena shooters were one of the most popular multiplayer games. It was a staple of 90’s PC gaming culture while many iconic titles were born out of the genre. Won’t it be great to experience not just the joy of an arena shooter but also 90’s PC gaming?  

That is the premise of Ghostware: Arena of the Dead, a homage to the arena shooters and late 90’s PC game culture. This is a look at the game in its Early Access stage. While this should not be treated as a review, it’s a look at how it plays in its current state. I do plan on publishing a review once the game launches. 

Enter the Arena

Ghostware: Arena of the Dead is a cyberpunk shooter set in a dead game that was once popular in the 90s. Players take on the role of Molly who has awakened in the game. She has no memory of who she is, her past, or why she has been brought to life in an old video game. 

Her only source of guidance is the mysterious Wizard, who wants to relive his favorite game. To do so he has brought Molly and several other folks to this world. However, his motives aren’t clear while a sinister force is also present within the game. 

To uncover what is going on, players must participate in the game’s many tournaments. They must also explore the game to upgrade their character and discover its many secrets. At the same time, they need to uncover the truth of their past and what is actually going on. 

Playthrough of Ghostware

From the moment the game starts, Ghostware: Arena of the Dead will blast you with 90s PC nostalgia. You will be greeted with a home screen that recreates a PC desktop from the era. This includes sound effects and desktop icons that are reminiscent of those days. Most notable is the web browser “Webscaspe”, an obvious nod to Netscape and a treat for those of us who grew up in the 90s.  

During my play through, I got a good idea of the gameplay and the story. The game itself is a mix of a classic arena shooter (mostly Quake III) along with elements of a standard shooter from the era. Thus, the gameplay was very fast-paced while the combat was intense. After each match, it helped to go back to the level and pick up some hidden perks that will give you an edge in the next round.

At the same time, there are obvious clues that something is not right in this world. All of this will prepare you for the chaos that will follow after the second match. 

Final Thoughts on Ghostware

Ghostware: Arena of the Dead wants to take players back to the 90s and it succeeds at doing this. From its aesthetics to the combat style and the world, everything about it screams 90s nostalgia. One should also not ignore the game’s warning about wanting to live in the past while failing to embrace the future. 

According to the game’s Steam page, fans could expect Ghostware: Arena of the Dead to launch sometime in late 2023. Given its current state, that is very likely at best with a mid-2024 window at the longest. The game still has some issues that need to be worked out but overall its performance is looking solid. The hard work will be adding more content in the form of plot elements and enemies.  

Disclaimer: Stride PR provided the game used for this preview.

8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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