Bring It Back | Geist
Welcome back to another entry in GotGame’s Bring It Back series, where we do a retrospective on games that deserve another chance at life. Last week, we had a double dose of Capcom IPs with Asura’s Wrath and Remember Me. This week, we’re doing something a little different. Most of the games we’ve covered for Bring It Back have been classic and beloved titles by many fans. This includes games like The Legend of Dragoon, Jet Set Radio, and Viewtiful Joe. For this week, we’re doing a retrospective on a first-person adventure game from the GameCube days that has very mixed reception. It’s time to talk about Nintendo and n-Space’s Geist.
Not many would remember Geist, but it had quite a bit of buzz when it was revealed in 2003. The idea of a first-person game where players would possess people and objects was really different at the time, and it’s still an uncommon feature to this day. Originally set for release in 2003, creative differences between Nintendo and n-Space caused several delays. The game was eventually released in 2005 for the GameCube, falling into the late part of the console’s lifecycle.
Geist tells the story of John Raimi, a specialist in biological and chemical threats that gets placed on a mission to save his friend from a facility where strange experiments have been taking place. After an encounter with a demonic creature, things were only getting stranger when Raimi is suddenly shot by an ally. When he regains consciousness, Raimi is strapped to a strange contraption that manages to pull a corporeal form from his body. Alexander Volks does this in an attempt to brainwash Raimi into being an obedient ghost soldier. Thankfully, he is freed by the spirit of a young girl named Gigi, who teaches Raimi how to be a ghost. Your new goal? Get your body back and finish saving your friend.
The story of Geist combined a lot of supernatural and science-fiction themes, making it feel like a blend of Doom and Wolfenstein. There’s demons from another dimension, crazy experiments, power-mad soldiers, and lots of enemies to eliminate. A lot happens during the events leading up to Raimi trying to regain his body. This includes discovering the incredible secrets behind the Volks facility and even seeing another ghost taking Raimi’s body for himself. Of course, being a ghost, you have this power as well, making possession the main gameplay element.
As a poltergeist, you would be able to possess objects and people to progress through the story. While possessing certain objects could help gain access, a lot of what made Geist different was the method of possessing people. Players would have to catch their targets in a state of unease in order to possess them. This gives reason to scare them using whatever options are available in the room. Of course, progressing the game wasn’t the only reason to possess things. Raimi’s corporeal form can’t survive long without possessing something. Over time, his health would drain, recovering to full after temporarily housing in something else. Thankfully, things move in slow motion when in your ghost form, usually giving plenty of time to find a new host.
Perhaps the most interesting element for possession is when possessing humans with weapons. This is basically how the combat works in the game. You don’t pick up new weapons and items as a single individual. Each body is their own respective weapon in their own right. Some soldiers might have automatic rifles while others might have proximity mines. To make it easier, players would see the person they’re currently possessing in the bottom left corner of the screen. Unfortunately, this also meant watching their awkward animations as you move. This did make for some interesting multiplayer though, as death matches would essentially be a hunt for bodies. There were even special hosts that wield powerful weapons, like a chef with a deadly butcher’s knife. To find them, you would have to possess animal bodies to take a special path to find them.
Geist would have players switch to another body when your host dies, making combat a bit different than your typical shooter. It would also allow for easier survival, though some bosses wouldn’t give players access to other bodies. One of my favorite elements of combat was the music, coming from composers Brad Martin and Michael Reed. The song “Fighting Force” lives rent free in my mind as one of my most memorable combat tracks from a first-person shooter. A lot of the music gave a similar tone as the Halo franchise, and even a bit of Call of Duty. This continues in the multiplayer, which was incredibly fun to play with up to four players. Thankfully, the game gives access to bots too, making matches feel much bigger in local play.
While Geist had a lot of varying opinions on the final product, one thing was clear. The concept was incredibly inventive and original, and that’s where the potential lies. Unfortunately, the game engine was unstable and had some performance issues from time to time. That doesn’t mean the game wasn’t impressive looking for the time, as it was full of detail. There were rumblings of a DS game, but it never came to fruition. While n-Space went defunct in 2016, the intellectual property still belongs to Nintendo. Even though the original game wasn’t much of a success, that doesn’t mean there can’t be a redemption arc. Nintendo is more successful now than ever, and giving the Geist IP to a talented developer can easily Bring It Back!
While the original game isn’t worth making a remaster, a full remake has more potential. Considering the game was meant to be a first-person adventure title like the Metroid Prime series, perhaps Retro Studios would be ideal for the task. Of course, their first priority should be finishing Metroid Prime 4, but afterwards, maybe they can give Geist a go. Even if it was a new studio, that would be fine. They can remake the story and maybe even bring in some of the original n-Space development team to assist with the project. Obviously, the biggest improvements would be making an optimized engine and making better animations. Online multiplayer would be a must and the presentation can also use a boost, giving better voice acting and stronger design choices.
Assuming a remake can take off, then we can see what can happen from there. If another team manages to make Geist a hit, then it can turn into a bigger franchise. Nintendo has been more open to M-rated titles lately, so it would be interesting to see them revisit this one. It would be a big task, and of all our Bring it Back features, this is definitely the biggest gamble. Even so, I liked playing Geist back in 2005, and I love how it flipped the first-person shooter genre. To see a reimagining of the game with the technology of today, it could fully reach its potential.
Geist may not be the first IP people think of for revival, but it’s definitely a forgotten gem. It would be great to see it get a second chance of life, especially for a game that not many people were able to play. What do you think? Would you find a Geist remake to be interesting? Do you see potential in this franchise? Let us know in the comments below! Also feel free to check us out next Sunday as we take a look back at a classic Rare franchise.