What's It About?
In 2010 BC, Damazu the Destroyer reigned over a cult. After his death, the cult members cast his spirit into a relic and buried it so he may rise again. Jump to 1989 and the burial site winds up being in New York City where construction workers discover the relic, and the relic is subsequently donated to a museum. The last member of Damazu's cult enlists Dr. Janosz (the wimpy guy in Ghostbusters 2 who helped Vigo the Carpathian) to release the relic. However, it breaks into three pieces and spreads itself across the city. This brings the game's story to the present, where Damazu’s spirit is causing the city to fall under his spell and the new Ghostbusters must find a way to stop it.
Why Should I Care?
With a flat cast of Ghostbusters, Sanctum of Slime is borderline enjoyable but still provides a solid challenge. There are casual moments, but keep going deeper and it gets a bit trickier. The ghosts you face come in three variations and are surrounded in red, yellow or blue clouds. The cloud's color represents the appropriate proton pack weapon you’ll need to use. The basis of ghostbusting is simple: aim the joystick at the ghost to fire. At first you only deal with one type of ghost but you’ll eventually get a mixture thrown at you.
This brings in a decent strategy to help what could have otherwise been mindless shooting. The game throws a variety of threats at you simultaneously, forcing you to think quickly on your feet in order to survive. Unfortunately, this will lead to about four moments in the game that are just overwhelmingly difficult. Appropriately enough, it is during these insanely hard moments where the AI completely tanks.
After about 3-4 hits, your health drops and you temporarily die (which will happen often, mind you). Teammates can revive you and typically do so quickly, at least until you reach one of the overly difficult moments. Almost exclusively at those times, the AI gets stuck running in circles or back and forth. The trend continues online – I couldn't get through a full level without experiencing massive character freezing, be it AI or live player. It gets incredibly frustrating and doesn’t help Sanctum of Slime save itself from a very forgettable story. As mentioned, the characters are flat, but the dialogue is close to atrocious. The Ghosbuster films had solid writing, and even the 2009 game had its moments, but Sanctum of Slime’s jokes are just terrible.
The art direction works well, though. Cut scenes are well-drawn comic stills, but just last far too long at times (especially at the beginning of the game). The camera is about three-fourths of the way to being bird’s eye view but with the roofs/ceilings cut off. this may seem like it would be awkward but it’s actually executed well. If you are familiar with Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, you can have a better sense of the camera angle being used.
Sanctum of Slime’s sound is decent. The all-important proton charge sounds good, but is a little too quiet. The same goes for the siren on the Ecto 4WD (it’s a Hummer instead of a hearse, which fans may find to be heresy).
Why Is It Worth My Time and Money?
Is Sanctum of Slime worth it? I answer that with a resounding “meh”. Hardcore Ghostbusters fans might enjoy this the most (and Ray Parker Jr. – theme song royalties, baby!). Beyond that, it’s only enjoyable for one go-through. If the asking price was any more, I couldn’t really recommend this at all (currently, it’s available for $10/800 points). It can be a good time killer. It has some nice references for fans, including collectible Stay Puft Marshmallow Men and randomly appearing Slimers that provide you with power-ups.
Definitely download the demo before you commit to purchasing Sanctum of Slime. Most will find the demo to be enough for them.