"Embracing the Ghosts of Dickens: A Journey Through 'Ebenezer and the Invisible World' – A Hauntingly Beautiful Adventure Beyond Christmas"

" S crooge was alive to begin with, that much was certain. In the bustling heart of London, amidst the clinking of coins and the hum o...

"Scrooge was alive to begin with, that much was certain. In the bustling heart of London, amidst the clinking of coins and the hum of industry, Ebenezer Scrooge stood, once a beacon of pragmatism and wealth, his once cold heart now warmed by kindness and generosity. For it was one year since that fateful night, when the events that changed his ways had unfolded before him.  The spirits had shown him the errors of his ways, revealing a possible future marred by greed and selfishness. Yet, they had also offered him a second chance, a chance to redeem himself and embrace the spirit of Christmas that he had long forsaken." But little did he know, his fate was intertwined with forces beyond his comprehension. 

One fateful night, as the clock struck midnight, a mysterious presence enveloped Scrooge's chamber. The air grew colder, and the room seemed to flicker with spectral energy. Before him appeared a team of ethereal figures, their forms shifting between the worlds of the living and the dead. These spectral allies revealed their purpose: to save London from the sinister clutches of Caspar Malthus, a wealthy industrialist whose greed knew no bounds even compared to the old ways of Ebenezer himself.

With unwavering resolve, Scrooge accepted the task bestowed upon him. Each ghost offered their unique abilities, promising aid in the battle against Malthus and his formidable Private Guard. Together, they would venture into the dark corners of London, confronting the malevolent influence of the Dark Spirit and an army of Unrepentant Ghosts. The fate of the city hung in the balance, and Scrooge, once a solitary soul, now found himself at the helm of a supernatural crusade, ready to confront Caspar and halt his nefarious plans before it was too late."

What is it?

"Ebenezer and the Invisible World" is a 2D Metroidvania adventure game developed by Play On Worlds in collaboration with Orbit Studios. Set in Victorian London after the events of Charles Dickens' iconic tale, "A Christmas Carol," the game continues the story, plunging players into a world teeming with ghosts and mysteries. As Ebenezer Scrooge, players navigate a Dickensian London filled with spirits, embarking on a collaborative journey with these supernatural beings to save the city from an imminent threat. With wonderful art and design the game weaves a tapestry of mystery and wonder, immersing players in a city teeming with apparitions and enigmas. Players must navigate this ghostly terrain, enlisting the help of ethereal allies to confront the malevolent Caspar and halt his maleficent designs.


"Ebenezer and the Invisible World" is 2D platform game also known as a MetroidVania game, referring to the Metroid and Castlevania classic games that had you explore and navigate a 2 world, looking for upgrades that would let you move past certain barriers and obstacles. This means a lot of backtracking and careful searching for hidden areas and new gear and skills.
When playing I felt the game to be very similar to the recent classic "Hollow Knight" in its design, setup and gameplay. With the big difference between them being the setting. Instead of a dark, almost black and white underground setting, the Ebenezer game takes place in colorful Christmas time London.  There will be however plenty of areas that exude the same dark brooding vibes as those underground caves found in hollow knight. 

Unwrapping Christmas Magic, One Spirit at a Time
In this spectral odyssey, players assume the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, delving into a London haunted by both friendly and remorseless apparitions. The game's core mechanic involves recruiting the friendly ghosts, harnessing their unique abilities to combat enemies and solve intricate puzzles. There are basically two major kind of ghosts. The first kind is the attack ghost which after unlocking them can be summoned using "spirit", which is basically the equivalent of mana or magical energy. 
You start off with the ghost of Eric Fellows, A childhood friend of Caspar Malthus who had worked with the three spirits of Christmas to change the ways of his previous kind friend and failed.  With the push of a button, Eric swoops in and swings his saber with a might strike taking down most spirits in one blow or severely reducing their health.  
The UI has a spirit bar indicating how much spirit you have in reserves. Through successful attacks with Ebenezer's trusty old cane, players accumulate more spirit energy to summon these ghostly allies in times of need.  Besides Spirit, a ghost can also drop gold which you can use to by tools and food (for health) at the traveling vendor (and his oh so cute pig) .

The other allied spirits in the game fall under the ability group and offer distinct skills ranging from movement maneuvers to uncovering hidden secrets. Often it takes the completion of a quest before the ghost join your party. The attacking ghosts are assigned to a weapon wheel of sorts in the bottom right of the screen you can select at any time which one you want to summon. Others come and appear as you need them based on the level design. This often means certain areas will off limits until you unlock new ghost powers.  

The developers of the game really tried to involve ghosts at every element. As a result, all these abilities are carried out by ghosts. For example, instead of a double jump in the game, what happens is you press the jump button, you're in the air, you press it again at the apex of the jump and a ghost, comes out, grabs you, throws you up to the air. Other times you see items such as balloons or climbing hooks that automatically become usable when the ghost with those abilities has joined your group.

The game's mechanics cleverly blend exploration, combat, and puzzle-solving, providing a satisfying and immersive experience. With an easy button push you swing your cane or other spirit weapons to attack the unrepenting ghosts in your way. With another you can instant summon a spirit ally to help you either get past an obstacle or deal extra damage to a foe. And there is a dodge button which will have to be used often to prevent being hit by projectiles or attacking ghosts. It took me a while to get used to as it only sends you backwards. And I had to be cognizant of the fact at if I moved direction and pushed the dodge button it could instead dodge me into the enemy I was trying to avoid. Once I found my groove with it, it became a big part of my attack and defend strategy and I even learned to use it to pass by and avoid fights if my health was not looking great at that time. 

Taking on the bullies
Just as you have spirit allies in your quest, so does Caspar and as word spread of your efforts throughout the game, you will have to deal with some of his most cohorts before you can proceed. These encounters are substantially harder than your run of the mill ghostly enemies encountered so far, so it is important to come well prepared and keep your wits. As often with games like this there will be a pattern and the enemy will "telegraph" its next move, allowing for you to react and counter or avoid it. Once you have survived the boss fight you can reap your rewards in coin and items and move on. 

Mixing Potions and Spirits for Victory
The game also features a subtle crafting element. Throughout the game spirits will drop items like Mugwort, rosemary, sand, glass that are divided in three groups. Special items, Herbs and Minerals. These items can be used at certain locations to enhance stats or create tools to aid you in our quest. For instance, you can increase your health and spirit bars allowing to survive longer and explore longer. Throughout the game you will also unlock spirit weapons such as the snake head cane or a ghostly axe, which increase damage Ebenezer can do himself or increase the speed he recharges spirit. And you can have up to three Spirit kids selected that will enhance your attack, defend or heal abilities.

Lastly there are the 30 Heirlooms to find in the game of which you can equip 4 at a time, these heirlooms give you a unique upgrade as well such as "Hannibal's satchel" which allows you to attract nearby gold dropped by enemies, eliminating the need to go collect them. Other items, allow you to breath underwater or increase your run speed and throughout the game you might finding yourself experimenting with what heirlooms to equip to best overcome a puzzle, boss fight or environmental challenge. 

Turning Challenges into Child's Play
All these upgrades are nicely logged in your journal, and you can read a lot of the lore here as well. The game offers tons of lore to discover. Additionally, it describes each ghost you encounter, be friend or foe. In case of the enemies, it will give you their drops and drop rates of items in addition to their lore. This is very convenient if you have to go resource hunting in order to get upgrades.
 All these different upgrades, unlocks and secrets build on the theme and the game encourages discovery and rewards players for thorough exploration. If you feel you are stuck, check the map and keep exploring, some areas might not even be on your map.  

Navigating the Invisible world
If you lose all your health, you will be transported to your last save point, these save point are represented by a ghostly door with the marly knocker on it. You find these doors in marked save rooms throughout the game. When you die you keep all your items found and all your gold allowing you to "save up" for those needed upgrades over time. If you save at the door you have to remember that all the ghosts you removed do far respawn, with the exception of any bosses you defeated. This can be an advantage for "farming" purposes where you kill them over and over again to gain more coin, but also a hindrance as it will take you more trouble now to get. back to where you were in the first place since all the ghosts are in your way again.

As you explore further and further you might realize you left a quest unanswered all the way back. Lucky you do not have to retread every single area you went through so far but instead you can go to a train station and skip large swaths of the city in one go. Much like you find with the quick travel in the forementioned Hollow Knight. Additionally, you will be finding new ways to navigate each area. From pulling levers to open up shortcuts to gaining powers that let you travel through magical mirrors, mountain gear that have you zip across to hard-to-reach areas and more. Once again, all these abilities are generated by ghosts you help along the way, keeping with the setting and theme of the game in all details. 
knock knock, who's there?


The developers at Play On Worlds and Orbit Studios have meticulously crafted a Dickensian universe, paying homage to the rich tapestry of Victorian England. Every corner of the game world reflects painstaking attention to detail, drawing from Dickens' narrative to infuse authenticity into the environment. The artwork, reminiscent of the illustrious styles of 80s and 90s Disney and Don Bluth animations, breathes life into characters and backgrounds alike. "Ebenezer and the Invisible World" captures the essence of Dickens' world, offering players a visually stunning and emotionally resonant experience. But the game goes beyond the theme of Christmas and good tidings, and instead takes the player down to dark and gloomy places such as bedlam asylum, graveyards, dank desolate factories and more. Leaving the happy, jolly holiday feelings far behind.

The game's sound and music further enhance the immersive atmosphere, enveloping players in a melodic tapestry that complements the game's visuals. From the subtle rustle of spectral winds to the eerie melodies that accompany ghostly encounters, the auditory elements of the game contribute to its immersive allure. It feels like you are truly on an otherworldly mission of spooks and ghouls. Unfortunately, the variety in the different musical elements is a bit lacking and can feel a bit repetitive mainly due to the fact is low key and more atmospheric than full out orchestral ensembles. This is only exacerbated by the fact that everything else has set such a high bar I cannot help but to want to hear full on movie like soundtracks. 

Dickension lore runs deep

The game meticulously captures the essence of Victorian London, blending historical accuracy with fantastical elements. Every in-game object is inspired by Dickens' book, ensuring an authentic and immersive experience for players. During our interview with the developer team, we witnessed the excitement they had for all the tiny details and wonderful lore this world had to offer. Little did we know there was so much and the teams at Play on Worlds and Orbit studios truly manages to squeeze so much of it in this game while keeping it relevant to the story and gameplay at every turn and not just as a throwaway item to fill content. In addition, the number of spirits, allies and foes alike, is surprisingly high offering a lot of varied experience while playing the game. Each is unique and beautifully crafted and comes with a backstory. 

Beyond Christmas Future
While inspired by a Christmas ghost story, the game's themes and challenges extend beyond the holiday season, making it relevant year-round. As the dev team alluded themselves the story in Christmas Carol is first and foremost a ghost story and in addition to that explores ethical dilemmas of human relationships, greed and relates especially to employer-employee relationships and societal changes. They worked hard to incorporate these stories into the game in order to provide players with thought-provoking narratives that allow the game to reach beyond the Christmas theme, despite its thick festive holiday season exterior. 

Parental Guidance:
Ebenezer Scrooge and the Invisible world. is rated E10+ for fantasy violence.  Despite some of its darker themes of ghosts, and the cruelty of man, the art style manages to stay family-friendly while incorporating some light spooky elements. There is no gore, or gross scenes however and neither is there any bad language, ensuring an engaging and visually appealing experience for players of all ages. Even if they might not understand all underlying nuances of the game. I will mention that parts of the game are not easy to complete, and especially in the beginning levels there will be confusing moments and repeat do-overs. A little patience, persistence and strategy is required to get ahead in the game. 

Final Thoughts

In the crowded landscape of (indie) Metroidvania games, "Ebenezer and the Invisible World" aims to stand out with creativity and innovation. Its seamless fusion of Dickensian charm, captivating gameplay, and enchanting presentation sets it apart as fun experience for those that love the classic story or those who enjoy this game style.  The game's thoughtful incorporation of ghostly allies adds a unique layer of strategy, encouraging players to consider their choices and tactics. The meticulous world-building, faithful to Dickens' legacy, immerses players in a universe where every element feels authentic and carefully considered. 

In the spirit of Dickens' original tale, "Ebenezer and the Invisible World" offers more than a mere gaming experience; it invites players on a profound journey of introspection and redemption and beyond the festive facade lies a deeply relevant narrative, exploring themes of ethics, automation, and the human condition, echoing the timeless concerns of Dickens' era into the modern age.

Much like Scrooge himself, players will find their hearts warmed and their spirits uplifted as they navigate the enigmatic world of London's spectral inhabitants. As the ghosts of past, present, and future converge in this digital realm, players are reminded that the essence of Dickens' ghost story transcends the boundaries of time and medium, making "Ebenezer and the Invisible World" a hauntingly beautiful adventure. The question will remain if this adventure can transcend beyond its festive association and see players explore its world far beyond the holiday season. That in the end is up to the players out there looking for new experiences on their favorite games console or pc.  But if you find "Ebenezer and The Invisible World' in your stocking or under your tree this year you will be in for a treat. 

Game Ebenezer and The Invisible World
PublisherPlay on Worlds
Developer Orbit Studio Platform: PC (Steam) , Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, XBox Series X, XBox 1Release Date:3 November 2023 (Price:19.99)
Review PlatformPlayStation 5
ESRB: E10+ (Fantasy Violence)

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks  


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