Spooky metaverse: Will the new ‘Ghostbusters’ VR game bring the franchise back from the afterlife?

By Sam Wareing

Published Apr 24, 2022 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Unveiled at Meta’s second annual Quest gaming showcase event, Ghostbusters VR will allow up to four players to put on the franchise’s legendary proton packs and team up to hunt down San Francisco’s most mischievous ghosts and “solve a deep mystery across a new chapter in the Ghostbusters universe,” as stated on the game’s Meta Quest store page.

Currently a working title with no concrete release date, developer nDreams is hoping to deliver “all the humour and frights from the original franchise,” as reported by Eurogamer. Sure, for old and new fans alike, this recent entry into the ghost-hunting universe is a very exciting development. But what about the rest of the gaming community—heck, what about the rest of the world? Will 2022 be the year to see a successful Ghostbusters reboot? It certainly looks promising. Here’s why.

Originally released in 1984 and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver, the movie Ghostbusters became a huge cult classic that even spawned a sequel, Ghostbusters 2, which was released in 1989. For the next 27 years however, it was as if the franchise itself had departed to the afterlife. Until 2016 came around with a female-fronted reboot of the same name.

2016’s Ghostbusters starred Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth. Sadly, it was not particularly well received by fans, with some going as far as to wage “a sexism-fueled war against the Melissa McCarthy comedy,” as Newsweek wrote at the time. Long story short, the remake was a monumental flop and its promotional costs stopped it from breaking even. Definitely not the franchise’s proudest moment, and looking back, it might have been at this point that its loyal fans lost hope of a proper sequel ever being made.

Five years later Ghostbusters Afterlife was released, starring most of the original movie’s cast and Finn Wolfhard of the critically acclaimed Netflix original Stranger Things. Set 32 years after the events of Ghostbusters 2, Afterlife was the sequel fans across the globe had been waiting for. Despite being delayed no less than four times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film managed to gross $197 million against a $75 million production cost. Not bad, eh?

With this success in mind and a new addition to the original story paving the way, it seems that Ghostbusters may finally be leaving the afterlife behind—especially with the announcement of this exciting new VR title. It may not be another film, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Taking the franchise in a different direction could be the answer for a true revival.

Looking at how well the Resident Evil VII and Resident Evil 4 VR versions were received, moving into an interactive and immersive type of media seems like the correct move here. Ghostbusters has just the right type of atmosphere and action that would fit perfectly with VR, just like Resident Evil did. And if the short but sweet trailer is anything to go by, nDream has hit the nail on the head. Meta is only going to improve its VR technology as time goes on, which will open up more opportunities for content like this to be developed. This could be a turning point for the franchise to explore more stories in the Ghostbusters universe and branch out to multiple different platforms. I mean, who wouldn’t want to step into the shoes of a supernatural expert?

So where does that leave us? We may not have a new film on our hands but I really don’t think that’s an issue considering the franchise’s track record. Instead, this new project is exciting and fresh, something Ghostbusters has desperately needed. Will the future hold more ghouls and ghosts for us to bust? Or will they simply be laid to rest (once more)? Only time will tell if this new entry to the beloved franchise can truly bring it back to life.

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