Developed by Fast Travel Games and Windswept Interactive Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game is an immersive VR-exclusive strategy/action/rogue-lite game that puts players in the shoes of a starship captain tasked with exploring and colonizing the vast expanse of space. Set in the universe of the popular science fiction strategy title Stellaris, it’s available now for Quest headsets through Steam and the Oculus/Meta store.
Ghost Signal features a story mode with randomized maps to encourage replay value, though you’ll find that characters and factions will be of the recurring type on subsequent playthroughs. In the story mode, you captain the Aurora as you chase a mysterious signal from outer space – the titular Ghost Signal. The journey isn’t without danger though, as dangers that include asteroid fields and a variety of enemies stand in your way.
The way that Ghost Signal is structured means that the narrative isn’t linear and set, making it fun to just explore and run into its variety of species – some friendly, some not so much. Further expanding on the universe’s lore is a robot friend who joins you on your journey, helping you learn about the species you run into as you edge closer to the origin of the signal and the secrets it might hold.
Your quest is divided up into sectors, which you can navigate in several ways, with different encounter types based on your choices. Some revolve around combat, others a chance to earn some extra income, and you’ll also run into boss fights. In combat, you’ll initially get the feeling that it’s going to be turn-based, but Ghost Signal is actually real-time – just usually quite forgiving in letting you make your moves in VR. You’ll guide your ship (into position or out of harm’s way), while using your weapons to strike back – both from an external view of the battle. Different weapon/attack types can be switched between, and selecting the most effective one for the job can make quick work of a battle.
The spoils of battle (and some exploration) will allow you to upgrade, which is done at shops you’ll come across in each sector. This encourages players to spend time exploring the galaxy, discovering new planets, and gathering resources, adding depth and a degree of complexity to Ghost Signal. The game’s sense of scale is impressive, with huge stars and massive planets that are awe-inspiring to behold in a seemingly endless galaxy. And while this is a single player game, it’s a fun touch that you’ll sometimes run into the debris of players who previously met their demise – leaving you with a few resources as you salvage the wreckage.
For a game that takes place in deep space, Ghost Signal doesn’t feel like the immersive VR experience that Rogue Squadron provides when it’s putting you in the cockpit of a spaceship. And while it’s cool to float around in space and navigate your way through the battle as if you’re playing an interstellar boardgame in real time, the slower paced nature makes it less exciting than “sci fi action in VR” sounds on paper. It’s a good fit for VR gamers looking for a less adrenaline-filled sci-fi game though, and fans of Stellaris will appreciate being a bit more hands on with the action in Ghost Signal.