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How to play Phasmophobia

Everything you need to know to get started playing Phasmophobia.

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Phasmophobia has been making the rounds on Twitch and other sites, which has led many new people to jump into the ghost hunting adventure. But, if you’re jumping into this spooky tale without any idea what’s going on, you’re going to end up hiding in a corner or dead. That’s why we’ve broken down all the basics you need to know to play Phasmophobia below.

How to play Phasmophobia

The objective in Phasmophobia is actually quite simple. Get in, find clues, and figure out what the ghost is. This can be done a number of ways, using an assortment of different devices like video cameras, UV lights, and even a blank journal. We’ll go over the tools of the trade a bit later on. For now, though, let’s focus on the very basics of the game.

Getting started

When you first start up Phasmophobia, it’s important to verify that your controls and everything work before hopping into a game. You can’t change your settings in the lobby, so you’re going to need to do it from the main menu.

How to play Phasmo - lobby
The lobby page doesn't hold an area to change your options, so make sure you set those before heading into a game.

By default you’ll find yourself inside an old garage, with the menu spelled out on a markerboard in the back. Use this time to get acquainted with the controls. If you’re playing in VR, then you’re going to use your respective VR controllers and move your body to crouch and other movements like that. If you’re playing without VR, though, you’re going to need to get to know the basic controls.

Learn the controls

WASD control your primary movement, with Shift working as your sprint. The sprint isn’t very fast in this game, so you’ll probably want to use that most of the time just for the very tiny boost it gives you. C is used to crouch, and you’ll want to set your Local Push to Talk and Global Push to Talk buttons to different buttons, too. I personally prefer having those buttons on my mouse. You’ll be using both quite a bit throughout the game, so make sure to select buttons that are easy to reach.

How to play Phasmophobia - learn the controls
Memorize the basic controls so that you don't mess up when actually playing.

J is your journal. This is where all the ghostly info you find will be stored. E is used to pick up items and you can drop them using G. Right Mouse Button will allow you to turn items in your hand on and off, and F acts as your secondary use, allowing you to activate certain things throughout the game. To open doors, and check things like drawers, you’re going to need to press and hold the Left Mouse Button and then move the mouse. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the controls before you jump into a lobby.

Set up voice recognition

One of the main ways that Phasmophobia works is by using voice recognition to pick up key phrases and speech that helps draw out the ghost. This needs to be set up to use it properly and the game should prompt you when you first start doing things to set it up. There’s also a tutorial that it tries to get you to play. You can skip this, though it is recommended to at least try it out if you aren’t 100% sure you’re going to be up to the task of hunting down ghosts with others without any prior experience.

Phasmophobia - set up voice recognition
Make sure to set voice recognition to the correct language to ensure the game can understand you.

Voice recognition plays a big part because it is the main way that you’ll interact with the ghost. The ghost will respond to phrases like “why are you here?” “who did you kill?” and other things throughout your hunts. It will also respond to its name, which you can use to help draw it out. Keep in mind that saying the ghost’s name and then following it up immediately with a question is not recommended. The game can only recognize one phrase at a time and will ignore the others.

Tools of the trade

Another important aspect of the game is the Equipment Store. The type of equipment that you have available to purchase will vary based on what level you are, but this is where you’ll pick up all the different tools you need to figure out what kind of ghost you’re dealing with.

How to play Phasmophobia - Equipment Store
You can purchase different types of items from the Equipment Store.

While there is an assortment of items, these are the recommended items that you take on every voyage out:

  • Photo Camera
  • Flashlight
  • EMF Reader
  • UV Light
  • Crucifix
  • Video Camera
  • Spirit Box
  • Ghost Writing Book
  • Thermometer

There are other items that are highly recommended, though the ones listed above are the most basic items needed to get the job done.

Purchasing equipment costs money, though, and you can earn money by completing hunts, as well as the various objectives that come with them. Getting pictures of different things in the world – like fingerprints, ghost writing in the book, and even the bodies of your fallen comrades – can net you some extra cash. Just be careful, you have a limited number of photos, and a limited number of areas for photos in your journal, so don’t fill them up with useless pictures.

Hunting down the ghost

how to play Phasmophobia - Ghost appearing
The ghost can manifest itself without hunting you. Try to grab a picture if you can.

Once you’ve properly acquainted yourself with the controls, it’s time to go out on your first hunt. I don’t suggest doing this alone. While you can play Phasmophobia in solo mode, it makes the process much more difficult. You’ll want at least one other person with you, as they can help you track down clues and whatnot.

The trailer is your safe space

Once on the job, pay attention to the markerboard in the trailer. These are your objectives, and they can often give you a good idea of what to expect throughout the round. While you should try to get most of them, it isn’t imperative to complete them all, especially when you’re still getting used to the game.

How to play Phasmophobia - The Trailer
These four displays provide crucial information for ghost hunters, including info on their Sanity and the ghost's activity level.

There are also a couple of other important things to take note of in the trailer. The map can be found next to the objective board. Next to that is the audio area, which will display info picked up from audio sensors you can purchase later on. Beneath that is the Activity Meter, which shows you how active the ghost is. Finally, there’s the Sanity Meter, which breaks down the current Sanity of all the players in your group.

Sanity is the most important stat in Phasmophobia. In fact, one could argue that Sanity might as well be your health meter. If this gets too low, the ghost will get angry and start hunting you more often, making it harder to complete your objectives. You cannot raise your Sanity unless you have Sanity Pills unlocked and purchased. For most small jobs you probably won’t need these items. However, if you spend too much time in the dark, or look at the ghost too much, you may find your Sanity dipping quickly. If your Sanity gets too low, get out. There’s no point in dying to prove what kind of ghost it is.

Activity Track - Phasmophobia
Watch the Total Activity tracker. When it reaches 10, the ghost is more likely to start hunting.

You can carry up to three items at a time (four if you’re playing in VR). I always recommend having a Flashlight on you, and then two other useful items. It’s important to separate key items like the Thermometer and the EMF Reader, as you can use those to help track down the ghost’s location much easier with multiple people searching for them. It’s also helpful to carry a photo for any kind of pictures you might need to take of the activity inside the house. You don’t have to have the flashlight out to use it, either. So long as you have one in your equipment, you can always press T to activate it from your shoulder.

Heading inside

When you’re ready, open the trailer and head into the location. Make sure to grab the key off the counter inside the trailer, as the front door will be locked.

Your main goal in any location is to gather three key pieces of evidence and identify the ghost that is haunting that area. You can place the pieces of evidence in the Journal, which will allow you to narrow down the type of ghost that is in the building. There’s also a breakdown of the different ghosts in the Journal, but the info there doesn’t always line up with the mechanics of the game for some reason, which makes guessing the ghost based off that info difficult at times. Follow the evidence that you find, and you shouldn’t have much trouble making the right choice.

How to play Phasmophobia - you can use the thermometer to help locate the ghost
The Thermometer can help you find the ghost's primary haunting area.

Before you start trying to spawn the ghost, try to get a lay of the land. Figure out where the hot spots are with the EMF Reader and Thermometer. Colder temperatures mean that you’re closer to the main haunting area, and any signals on the EMF reader will also help point the way. Both Freezing Temps (below 0-degress Celsius, or if you see your breath in front of you) and EMF Level 5 are evidence you can use to identify the ghost.

If you’re struggling to find anything on the EMF Reader or Thermometer, you can try calling out to the ghost. Saying its name or asking it questions can often cause it to respond by making lights flicker or even moving things around. Pay attention to everything. Every noise could be a clue. Your goal right now is to figure out which room the ghost is set up in so that you can place down key items like the Ghost Writing Book and the Spirit Box, both of which can give you more evidence to work off of. If the ghost does start causing lights to flicker, try using a UV Light to check for fingerprints, which are yet another great piece of evidence.

Surviving the hunt

The last basic mechanic that I want to touch on is hunting. This is when the ghost becomes active and starts actively pursuing the players. During the time the doors that lead outside will close and lock, trapping you inside. Your flashlight will start to flash, as if the battery is dying. Turn it off and try to hide. Make sure the ghost isn’t following you and put some space between it and yourself.

How to play Phasmophobia - Door locked
When the ghost is hunting the door will close and lock, trapping you and anyone else still investigating the ghost inside.

Heading into other rooms and closing the door can be a good way to cut off the ghost’s access to you, though it won’t always stop it. Crouch and stay quiet. Talking in-game will only attract the ghost to your location. Stay silent and, if possible, look at the wall. Looking at the ghost – whether you mean to or not – will cause it to home in on you and your Sanity will start to drop. If you want to check if the ghost is done hunting yet, turn your flashlight on very quickly. If it doesn’t flash, you’re good to start moving again.

There are also items like the Crucifix, which you can use to stop the ghost from hunting, but those are a bit more advanced, so we’ll talk about them in a later article. For now, though, you should have a more basic grasp of the game’s mechanics, which should help you get started on your ghost hunting adventure. For more help, make sure you check out our Phasmophobia topic.

Guides Editor

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has been exploring the world of video games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys everything from large-scale RPGs to small, bite-size indie gems and everything in between.

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