Outbound Ghost is a turn-based RPG about a helpful spook

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Conrad Grindheim, the lead developer at Conradical Games, didn’t think it was possible to make an RPG with turn-based combat—the technical requirements for what would become The Outbound Ghost were simply beyond the Swiss studio’s budget.

When it reached 238% of its Kickstarter goal in mid-August 2021, backers were presented with a single player character: a ghost trying to learn how they died, while helping other 2D spirits adapt to the afterlife in a 3D game environment. The main appeal was its cozy small-town game world and adorable character designs. Its potentially grim themes are handled with a treatment that’s more Pixar, less Planescape: Torment.

At the March 24 Future Games Show, Conradical announced that they were teaming up with Digerati to publish The Outbound Ghost. That meant Conradical now had the funding and technical expertise to introduce turn-based combat mechanics. As Grindheim explained in a recent devlog video, the combat system was designed to combine “the best aspects of Paper Mario-like gameplay and the strategic depth of classic JRPGs.”

In practice, that involved creating new party members who hadn’t been mentioned throughout the initial crowdfunding campaign and PC demo. That’s because they’re Figments of the amnesiac protagonist’s memories. Their thematic names match their gameplay functions, like damage-soaking tank Callousness, healer Camaraderie, and familiar all-rounder Regret.

It’s worth considering whether this change goes against the game’s initial crowdfunding pitch: “[an] RPG without any of the numerical and statistical systems. Think of it like Undertale but with even more situation-specific gameplay moments.” Conradical assures backers that those interactions are still there. Aside from the battles, players will be helping restless souls move on via card-based mini-games, rotating environmental puzzles, item-oriented fetch quests, and unlockable gated abilities (like teleporting and using jump pads).

The same vid confirmed that a dedicated team will port the game for the Xbox One and Series S|X. Digerati’s porting partner “remade the whole dialog system from the ground up… allowing every single dialog interaction to have the same cutscene-like properties” regardless of platform.

That’s a long way from the game’s origins as a 2D side project that Grindheim worked on solo, while releasing Lootbox Lyfe, a satirical metroidvania. But as The Outbound Ghost’s in-game story reminds us, things don’t always end the way one expects. 

Outbound Ghost is scheduled for Q4 2022 and will arrive on all major current generation consoles including Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.