Ghosts of Miami- Demo Review

Big hair, questionable fashion, and a mystery, all accompanied by a wicked synth beat! Take a trip back in time to the 1980’s with Pillow Fight’s upcoming commercial visual novel Ghosts of Miami! Follow Chelo Martinez a private investigator that specializes in finding missing persons. Follow leads, chat with witnesses, crack the case, and break a few hearts in this totally radical mystery VN. The game is set for a Summer 2017 release date and will be available for Windows, Linux, and Mac, but there are plans for a mobile release as well. Ghosts of Miami is currently on Steam Greenlit, so cast your vote if you want to see a Steam release!


Synopsis

Miami, 1986 On average, one person is murdered every day in Dade County. Between the drug cartels, the AIDS epidemic, and a flood of undocumented immigrants, hundreds more will vanish, never to be seen again. Chelo Martínez finds the people who slip through the cracks.

Help Chelo explore the beaches and back alleys of Miami at its most dangerous, investigating her very first cases as a private investigator. You make the decisions: do you bait the shady drug dealer, or beat the answers out of him? When that handsome stranger shows up at Chelo’s door, will he help your case–or distract you from it? And will you be able to find Chelo’s missing father, who disappeared without a word almost ten years ago?

Official Game Blog

Based on the synopsis, Ghosts of Miami promises to be the otome game equivalent of Phoenix Wright, but with a distinctive style reminiscent of Miami Vice. The game is set in 1986 Miami, a tumultuous time in US history, Reagan had just started up his crusade against drugs and crime was rampant in the streets. The perfect setting for Consuelo “Chelo” Martínez to cut her teeth as an up and coming private investigator. Chelo is a spunky 20-something with a quick wit and an eye for investigation, when someone goes missing, she’s the lady to call. When her brother’s less than savory employer offers to lend a hand with a few of her investigations, Chelo must decide whether she wants to bend the rules to solve the case or play it safe.

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Help Chelo solve her cases, by interacting with a colorful cast of characters, visiting unique locales around sunny Miami, and of course, making choices that will change the course of the story and her cases. In the demo Chelo is asked to find her landlord’s missing daughter, Grace, during the investigation she discovers that the missing girl had recently become dependent on drugs. While uncovering clues about the disappearance, Chelo meets with several characters, some of which are related to the case and other that Chelo know’s personally.

How Chelo interacts with each of the characters she encounters effects the types of information they divulge about the case. An example of this occurs when Chelo is interviewing Grace’s ex-boyfriend, depending on whether you choose to threaten him or ask nicely, determines how much he tells you about a local drug dealer pal of his. I’m curious to see if the choices you make have an effect on future interactions, but since all of the character interactions are one off meetings, I’ll have to wait until the final release to find out. But, I did notice, that whenever a character is revealing an especially juicy bit of info, Chelo’s sprite will pull out a camera as she’s documenting the moment.

GOM Chara.png
Love Interests (L to R): Janet, Ethan, Tala, Luci, Richard

You all know how I feel about diversity in my otome games, so Ghosts of Miami is a-okay in my book! Not only are the characters racially diverse, but there is literally a love interest for everyone in this game! Of the five planned romanceable characters, there are two female options, two male options, and one non-binary option.

  • Tala is a popular and friendly high school senior, Chelo meets during one of her investigations. She eager to help Chelo solve her cases, and she happens to have a knack for PI work too. Tala is an aspiring actress, but her reasons for pursuing a career in showbiz have less to do with fame and fortune than you think.
  • Luci is Chelo’s best friend and a member of the Escobar crime family, but she doesn’t appear to be caught up in the family business. Spoiled and a bit of a ditz, Luci can seem a bit flighty, but she’s much more perceptive than she lets on.
  • Richard is a mysterious gentleman with ties to the criminal underbelly of Miami. He offers to use his connections to help Chelo with her cases, but his interests in her is not exactly professional.
  • Janet is a professional drag king and honestly, the character I am most looking forward to seeing in the final version of the game. Janet is a queer character in a time when the LGBTQ community was not as openly accepted. In the game Janet refers to herself using feminine pronouns, but when she is in her stage persona, Prince Charming, male pronouns are used.
  • Ethan is an EMT working his butt off to save up enough money to attend medical school. He looks like such a sweetie pie, just look at his blush!! Plus, I am always game for my chocolate love interests!!

This is certainly an interesting bunch of characters and a nice representation of the population of the US and Miami in the 80’s. Each character, whether they are a part of the main cast or members of the supporting cast, have their own unique personalities and quirks that set them apart from the rest.

There were a lot of great stylistic choices in Ghosts of Miami that lend themselves to the whole 1980’s vibe. The GUI uses a lot of bright vibrant colors, geometric shapes, and fonts. Of course the character’s themselves are period appropriate, with their flashy wardrobes and designs. Each of the sprites were very well done, with a wide range of poses and facial expressions, even Chelo’s half sprite is very expressive! The backgrounds are not nearly as detailed as the sprites, but the rather simplistic style allows the characters to really pop. The soundtrack has a fun pop sound and the OP uses a cool synth beat common during the time period. The writing was clean, and while there wasn’t a lot of “80’s” lingo thrown in, I did notice a few phrases creeping their way into conversations every now and again. Chelo is Latina so there were a few instances where she or one of the other characters would use a bit of Spanish, just a few lines here and there, but it was a nice touch.

The demo is still lacking in a number of common gameplay features, such as, a settings menu, a save feature, back/skip functions, etc. But, since the demo is rather short, roughly 30 minutes long, the absence of those features at this stage isn’t really much of a problem. On the flip side, the features that did make it into the demo were pretty great.

final thoughts

I’m a 90’s kid, so I missed out on all of the glam rock and neon, but Pillow Fight did a fantastic job of recapturing the essence of that rather colorful time period. In the spirit of investigative games like the Ace Attorney series and Hotel Dusk, Ghosts of Miami promises to be a truly outrageous mystery visual novel.

The characters are unique and the setting is definitely a departure from some of the other games on the market. 1986 Miami was a rather fascinating time in American history and the perfect setting for a investigative mystery game. The sunny beaches of Miami are hiding some pretty dark secrets and I can’t wait to see what plot twists are in store for the final release of the game! Definitely check this demo out, you won’t be disappointed!!

You can also contact Pillow Fight and let them know what you think of the demo through the following Social Media channels:

Are you as hyped for the game as I am? Let me know what you think of Ghosts of Miami and the demo in the comments section. Don’t forget to let the developer know what you think about the game as well! As always THANK YOU for reading!!!

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8 thoughts on “Ghosts of Miami- Demo Review

    1. That’s a good question, so far the demo just showed a few fictional locations, but based on what the devs told me about the game and the premise, there are bound to be some real world tie-ins in the final version of the game.

      The 80’s looked like a pretty wicked time period and the game did a really good job of tapping into that vibe. You should definitely give it a look!

      Like

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