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Phasmophobia and the illusion of replay value

Content of the article: "Phasmophobia and the illusion of replay value"

Having seen the hype for the new multiplayer horror game Phasmophobia build up, a few friends and myself decided to try it out. Everywhere I looked there were people lauding it not only as an exceptional horror experience but one that has very high replay value with every scenario feeling unique.

With a few games starting out we were pretty much on board but as we kept playing it very quickly fell into a monotony. A routine began and the deviations felt too few and far between. It spurred the question of how far does a game have to deviate from its gameplay loop to be considered to have "replay value"?

I think it's a safe bet that when players hear replay value, the expectation is that their gameplay loop will vary to a more than marginal degree each session and it shouldn't feel too stale. However, to what degree does a game need to commit.

It can be quite easy for any game to promise "replay value" by just slapping randomized variations of the same objective but, of course, we expect diverse AI patterns and unique experiences to justify the branding. Circling back to my experience with Phasmophobia it surely had all these things that would, on paper, generate a lot of replay value but these things generally never felt very much in service of radically changing the established gameplay loop.

Eventually the game just became: Equip everyone with EMF's and thermometers –> Look for the room –> Once room is found –> Bring the tools and get evidence –> Leave

Read:  God of War (2018) - It's very good, but not great

I understand many great games can be boiled down to a simple gameplay loop and it can seem like I'm trivializing it by being so simple when the big appeal comes from a plethora of mysterious, unpredictable ghost AI but, at least in my experience, it did little to really change my gameplay loop. More than half the time, the ghosts were very passive with little hunts being triggered and the communication with the ghost didn't feel as in depth as promised.

My point, and the discussion I'd like to spur is that while this game's replay value clearly didn't work for me, for a lot of people it did and I'd like to discuss and understand why this is the case. What defines good replay value for you and what threshold does a game have to meet for you to keep you coming back to it?


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