Forewarned is a new four-player survival co-op horror game with heavy shades of Phasmophobia, but with a few of its own truly creative twists on the new ghost-hunting formula that benefit scares and immersion considerably. In many ways, it's a far scarier experience than Phasmophobia, especially if your friends are jerks. Let me explain.
At least in Phasmophobia, there's a comradery among players built on the trust that you'd never betray your friends. But the hard truth Forewarned forced me to confront is that the only reason my friends and I don't turn on each other in Phasmophobia is that we don't have the option to. That's not the case in Forewarned, which features an optional PvP element that gives dead players the choice to come back as snarling mummies that can scare, attack, and even kill their former allies. This makes the later stages of games incredibly unnerving, depending on how much your friends like to fuck with you.
Is that you?
The first time I was attacked by some friends who'd just died, I thought they were just enemy NPCs, so I ran around aimlessly as they chased me around the dark, claustrophobic halls of the tomb. Eventually, I realized that the deep, demonic-sounding cries I was hearing were actually the heavily distorted voices of my fallen friends. "It's uuuusssss, yooouuu assssshooole," one of the mummies chasing me groaned. Realizing it was just my two harmless buddies on my tail and not a hostile NPC, I stopped running and turned around to face them, chuckling with relief. And there was my fatal mistake. Out of curiosity, I reckon, one of my friends took a swipe at me and sure enough, it damaged my health. "No, don't kill me!" I cried. They didn't listen.
I wanted to start with this little anecdote to emphasize upfront that Forewarned isn't just a Phasmophobia clone, despite the basic premise being pretty similar. You and a group of friends arrive just outside a cursed/haunted location with a number of objectives to complete, the main one being identifying the spirit lurking inside. Spirits exhibit different behavioral patterns that help you figure out their specific spirit type, and you consult a journal to record your evidence until you feel confident about the entity you're dealing with. Even some of the objectives are similar, like capturing evidence of the paranormal on camera.
There's depth to these tombs
Now here's how it's different. In Forewarned, you're a group of archaeologists sent to investigate ancient tombs crawling with Mejai, another word for malevolent spirits. This immediately grounds the experience in a richer, more culturally interesting lore. Rather than shuffling around a stuffy suburban house or abandoned school, you're taking in the sights of massive Egyptian tombs filled with sarcophaguses, ornate and towering sculptures, and reanimated mummies. There's this foreboding sense of grandness when you first step into a tomb and you and your teammates' voices take on an echo effect to mimic what it might sound like in real life inside a vast enclosed space.
Early on, Mejai will reveal themselves through subtle behaviors like making footsteps and voices, reanimating mummies, and distinguishing flames. Later on though, they'll reveal themselves by aggressively chasing and killing you as you get closer to stealing their treasure and escaping the tomb. The scariest part of Forewarned is when you've identified the Mejai, which allows you to open the door and secure its treasure, and you're trying to find your way back to the entrance of the tomb. The only way out is to find and press a button to reopen the entrance, but that's when the Mejai is at its most active, and there's a good chance you've got some disgruntled friends complicating matters as well. You'll also need to navigate your way around various puzzles and booby traps that'll stand in between you and your objective. All of this often makes for a highly stressful, breathless sprint to safety in those last few minutes of a game.
There's a tangible reward for escaping a tomb alive and with treasure in tow. Forewarned's lobby is a museum where you can display the priceless artifacts you find during missions and read through any one of a hundred collectible lore documents. The lobby also offers plenty of customization options, both for your character and the game itself. Here you can choose the difficulty, map size, and a couple of crucial settings that'll decide just how competitive you want each run to be. Loot Mode lets you choose whether players share the loot they find or keep it for themselves, and there's a toggle that turns PvP on or off.
Forewarned is yet another reason to keep an eye on the investigative, ghost-hunting multiplayer space established by Phasmophobia in 2020, and shared by games like Devour and Ghost Hunters Corp. I love that indie studios are putting in the work to add something unique and compelling instead of simply reskinning an existing blueprint, and Forewarned might just be the most interesting take on the emerging Phasmo-like genre yet.
Forewarned is out on Steam Early Access today, September 10. GamesRadar was provided a code for this write-up.