Spirit Hunter NG Review: Let’s Play a Game with the Evil Doll

The next time I feel like wallowing up in my misery, I will just head to the bar and get a glass of drink to numb my pain. Like Halsdoll’s Diner (a.k.a. my blog), the bar in this game called Black Rabbit Bar serves as a hub for broken people like myself to hang out: Drink your misery away and eat as many chips as you want. Timeout from reality is the place to unwind. Doesn’t it sound like a catchy line to attract customers? Well, what’s so comical is that like the owner of the bar, I don’t make the effort in trying to attract customers (readers) to my blog. Instead, I play video games like I’m consuming alcoholic beverages. I spend more time playing and rearranging my thoughts than finding people to read. So hanging out in my empty diner in this blazing hot summer evenings is the norm for me because I never liked crowded places, unless it’s dim and “secluded” where I can’t see people’s faces like the Beach House concert at the Moore Theatre I went to back in 2019.

Yes, Spirit Hunter NG is  thematically refreshing for a horror visual novel and I kind of like that more than the storytelling and for the game experience.  The game becomes more like an art piece waiting to be admired and captivated by the viewer. Why you may wonder? Because sometimes I just like hearing the creators’ voice when they assert their thoughts and emotion into a piece of work. It gives me a glimpse of their inner woe. Horror, after all, is really a feeling of ongoing internal conflict. Sounds like the writer was poking fun at horror fans for having to write a horror story for a game:

A stranger’s death dripping with danger and intrigue is a great source of entertainment.

The story follows a “muscle-freak” (borrowing the description from the game) teenage boy by the name of Akira Kijima who happens to be adopted by his aunt, a horror novelist who owns a bar as a side job. Kijima found himself playing a strange game with an evil entity which involved destroying/purifying spirits. He was forced to play a game when the evil doll kidnapped his precious beloved niece (Yes, it’s about saving the damsel. Nothing new here in the story department). Along his journey, he is accompanied by his good friend, a member of the Yakuza and a gothic pop idol. Later down the road, he meets older and more professional folks: a gambler, female cop, and ghost hunter. The variety of age adds maturity to the game which makes it feels less singular and a self-centered experience by providing a third person point of view to the story. There were moments when the side characters point fun at Kijima for his bravery and youthfulness as stupidity. Unlike Root Letter, I didn’t feel as if I was a generic schoolboy, even though I see the story through the main’s character’s eyes. It’s something video game as a medium have a hard time executing because when you play the main character, you walk in his or her shoes and your perspective as the player is skewed. I like that I’m able to separate myself from the character. But what really intrigued me about the story is the villain, the eternal doll who wants to play and who does not always play fairly. Well, it wouldn’t be a game if the story doesn’t revolve around a game. I think this is why I like this game compared to some popular visual novel games I’ve played. It sticks to its root.

Now let’s talk about gameplay. Is it fun? Is it scary? Well, yes to both questions but it’s not going to give you nightmare. It’s not that immersive type of horror but more like a thematic haunted house ride you’d find at the fairground. You know the feeling of walking into a haunted house ride, hoping for a good fright? Yes, the game allows the player the option to select Scary Mode for those who want a jump scare experience. Personally, I select default mode and just enjoy the game for what it is. Even without the additional mechanical scare, there were some chilling tales that involved young girls which would strike a chord to any girl who is often accompanied by herself. Girls love fairy tales and fairy tales are not always happy ever after. So stay away from male doctors! Oops, did I say too much? Well I hope I entice you rather than dissuade you from playing the game. Overall, it’s an adventurous game that requires player to select choices carefully without being punished (wrong choice=Game Over). I played with a guide to save time because like most games with multiple endings, it requires the player to select certain choices to unlock a particular ending. I remember spending 69 hours on it. It might be because I left the game running for a long time trying to cook and play at the same time.

For horror fans, this is a game worth playing. Add to your collection of horror games to play because horror is a genre that is difficult to execute in video games. So it’s nice to find a piece of gem. The only thing I didn’t enjoy is the graphic pictures of tortured women. Why was it necessary? It’s a mystery to me.

P.S

I know dolls are scary, but I still love to play with them; that just says a lot about me.

Root Letter Review (2016): What Happen to the Cute Schoolgirl?

Do you have insecurities? I think we all do, I’ll let you know mine but once I review this visual novel game, which revolves around the mystery of a schoolgirl disappearance called Root Letter, developed by Kadokawa Games, released in 2016. It tells a story of a high school pen pal who decided to stop writing to you after she confessed in her letter that she killed someone. Something doesn’t add up. The schoolgirl happens to be beautiful, intelligent, and talented but fell tragically ill and passed away. Sounds interesting enough. I was curious to unravel this suspenseful, mystery title that doesn’t contain horror. Watching the trailer helped me decide to pick up this title a few years ago.

Mysterious and adventurous tale mixed with good soundtrack and pretty art style, I just can’t say no to it. In fact, it was refreshing to play something as relaxing as this visual novel despite that it was wrongfully advertised as Young Adult Suspense Thriller. More than anything, it’s quirky and kind of funny. I enjoyed going on an adventure to find out what happen to the high school sweetheart. But you are wondering what does it have to do with insecurities? Well you see, everyone who was mentioned in Aya Fumino’s letter, the disappeared schoolgirl, had some insecurity issues. Her trusted friends are Shorty, Monkey, Snappy, Fatty, Four-Eyes, Bitch, and Bestie. Do you get my point now, how it can be comical? What kind of friend give her close friends such awful nicknames? Well that’s because they got something to hide!

It’s up to the main protagonist to do some serious detective work. Yes, he has to investigate each student closely to find out what really happen to Aya while exposing each character’s insecurity. It’s an interesting game design. There were few times I laughed hard. What’s so funny is I could see myself in all 7 characters. That means I got a lot of work to do in the self-love department.

I enjoyed this game a lot. The plot is serious but the adventure is humorous and light hearted. It’s just something I need from a stressful day. It’s a lot less mentally strenuous on the mind than what I typically play. Root Letter was nice for a change. I played this game back in 2017 I believe and decided to write a review until now.

Now going back to my question about insecurities. Quite frankly, back in my teenage years, I broke out badly on my forehead and throughout all my face. It was so bad that my brothers would make fun of me and called me “Himalaya Mountains”. The cyst pimples were so glaringly noticeable on my face that for a while, I was really self-conscious about my skin. Then as I grew older, l learned to separate myself from my appearance. Like Mona the “Hatchet-Face” from Crybaby, I like to think at least “I got character!”

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy me talking about video games you can follow me on Twitter @Poetry_Huntress for gaming tweets and blog updates.

NieR Replicant ver_1_22474487139 (2021): My Impression

I am going to do something a bit more casual here. I am going to write an impression instead of a review because I am not here to sell you anything but give you my impression of the game as a fellow gamer who is just trying to help out some gamers out there whether you should play this game or not. so I’m too lazy to articulate my thoughts, especially after playing a heavy loaded game like this. I have already put over 60 hours of gameplay into this game. Not going to 100 % it. I did it with Nier Gestalt years ago, but would at least try to 100 % the side quests. Currently, while writing this post, I’m at 83%. Weapons completion is also important as well. This is a story driven game. You would appreciate the story more by completing these tasks.

NieR Replicant ver_1_22474487139 released 2021 of April, is not a remake or a remaster of Nier Gestalt (2010). It’s more closely related to the Japan’s version Nier Replicant which players play as the brother instead of the father. Some additional content have been added to this upgraded version to flesh out the story. So if you have played Nier Gestalt and wonder whether you should purchase it, you should but not at full price. You are not missing much. It’s just less convoluted than the one released in 2010. Perhaps, this is what some players need, a straightforward story?

The upgraded version gameplay feels a lot smoother and fluid like you would play in Nier Automata (2017). Gameplay is very simple: hack and slash with plenty of of weapons and magic to choose from, although let me warn you that gameplay was never the game biggest strength. I stick to one weapon and two magic: Dark Lance and Dark Hand the entire time. As for difficulty settings, there are Normal Mode which is really Easy Mode and Hard Mode. I can only imagine what Easy Mode is like. You’d go through the game without a sweat. Well I can see it being an option, if you are into speed run. Some of the trophies required players to beat a boss with a certain amount of time. And if you are just interested in experiencing the story, then there is no reason to play on Normal or Hard Mode.

Without spoiling the story for those who have not experienced this masterpiece (yes it was a masterpiece in my eyes when I first played it). It’s about a brother who is trying to find a cure to the disease called Black Scrawl which has inflicted his sister. There are some heavy topics such as body dysmorphia, homosexual and borderline incest introduced in this game. Yes, it’s not your typical heroes and heroine you see every day. They are humans, but are they?

As I mentioned earlier, the side quests add to the story so don’t skip them. They are fun and addictive with a twisted sense of humor. The greatest attribute to this game is the soundtrack, however the music arrangement is not as on point like in Nier Gestalt, which did affect my experience. I didn’t like how it sounds unnaturally flawless. So, I didn’t enjoy the game to its max. It feels kind of soulless. Well, it’s not soul’s game if that’s what you are expecting. If I were to compare this game with Nier Gestalt, I would still pick Nier Gestalt over Nier Replicant, playing as a father seems more logical. I don’t know though, I never had brothers who go to an extreme to protect me so it didn’t make any sense to play as an overly protective brother.

Although I can say, I know what it is like to be the protective big sister. I guess there is some similarity in that sense, or it’s just the fact, I’m as crazy as the protagonist. I just like killing stuff. Clearly though, the game was not intended for female demographic but why is it so popular among female players? That’s something to think about.

So what’s so great about this game? Well, it’s the story. The soundtrack, but more importantly how it was executed. The game allows players to see in different angles and it starts to question your morality. Who are the real humans? Even if you think you are right, does that justify killing?

I think you get my point. The game will make you think about your actions. Are you really righteous?

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy me talking about video games you can follow me on Twitter @Poetry_Huntress for gaming tweets and blog updates.

13 Sentinels Aegis Rim Review: The Future of Humanity Is in Space

Are you a fan of Science Fiction? Mystery? Video games? Think there is more to life outside of planet Earth? Curious about venturing out into the void? Do you have a robotic brain? Those with a mind of an encyclopedia will sure enjoy this game. You know, the type of gamer who enjoys absorbing facts as a hobby. Then this is the game for you. Players will get to pilot a giant robot and destroy aliens called Kaiju. To unveil the story, one must go into battle to obtain Mystery Files to piece the story together! As for me, too many details drive me nuts! This is partially why I dragged my feet to complete this game, but I stick with it anyway because the artwork is just beautiful. No need to go to an Art Museum. I will play this game. It’s more suited for the time we are in anyway. Think of art as a fashion statement for the current human psyche. There are some of us who are terrified of AIs taking control of humanity, but at the same time, technology is just so cool!

I think the idea of robots saving humanity is pretty epic. I often envisioned myself while walking to work (once upon a time before Covid-19 hit) crashing from out of nowhere, piloting a heavy armored machine. I have a need to save humanity…nah I am just an adrenaline junkie (some people don’t deserved be saved. They caused more problems than good on this planet). I like to be in the battleground. It can be exciting especially if it involves some strategic planning. There are some serious firework damage to be done. Those armor suits have some serious guns.

In most games I have played, the game is challenging in the beginning but gets easier once you get the hang of it. This is the opposite. My mind was dozing off when I pressed randomly on any battle command to attack Kaiju in the first few stages. The goal in each stage is to protect the terminal. I was getting S with a star easily without putting much effort until the 3rd wave. Then I was shocked I got a “D”! I started to pay attention to the objectives for each stage (don’t laugh. I can be a bit of a muscle-head). Satisfying the objectives for each stage will reward player Mystery Files. So you have to work to unveil the mystery of this story! Not a bad idea in terms of game design. It forces the player to play the game and not go through the story. After all, aren’t video games meant to be played? But don’t fret! If you are not good at games, you can always play on Casual setting to enjoy the story. It’s a fair game that keeps all type of players in mind.

The story on the other hand, player will get to explore 13 protagonists. They are all unique and different in their own ways. It seems that humans are always motivated by desire to be with someone. The need to protect and love is strong. And yet, it’s all so irrational for AIs. Robots don’t need to procreate, but why do they need to have romantic feelings? Overall, the story is a lot to take in when you are just jumping around like me from protagonist to the next, which is why I highly recommend playing this the game a second time around. Or the best solution is just to stick with one protagonist at a time so the story is easier to follow.

It’s a good game, but it’s not a great game, but it might just be that I don’t have a strong scientific background to enjoy the game. Time traveling, clones, androids–those things are cool but it’s not my field of expertise. Hence, I didn’t enjoy it to its maximum.

In conclusion, I hope I will never meet a clone of myself from a different time. I am afraid of myself more than aliens. It’s just creepy. I wonder though, is it really a bad thing if we can save ourselves in the form of data?

Until next time, bye bye for now.

Resident Evil 2 Remake Review: An Upgraded Classic Rollercoaster Ride

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I know I am a bit late to the party. I finally got a chance to play Resident Evil 2 the remake, which was released back in 2019. For those who are new to my blog, I am not a little girl and I’m definitely not new to this franchise. I first played this game with my brother back in day where we supposedly fake sick so we can skip school (actually the real deep root was social anxiety. Some kids just function better in smaller crowd).

Let’s just pretend you are new to the game. There are two parts to the game that you can play: the rookie Leon Kennedy’s route or the good bad-ass Claire Redfield who is searching for her brother. The proper order is to select Leon’s route, but back then playing the original, I started off with Claire because she is GIRL POWER!!! Did I mention that she is bad-ass a minute ago? Yeah I did.

Anyway, this game is well designed in terms of appealing to the younger generation of gamers without jeopardizing its survival horror aesthetic, which older fans often complained how they didn’t like how the Resident Evil franchise turned into action games. Zombies are noticeably less aggressive and slower than Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6. Atmosphere is very dark in tight corridors. Ammo is scarce so don’t go shooting blindly and aimlessly out of terror. The remake is also generous enough to allow players to switch to Assist Mode if they are having trouble. Assist Mode is another way of saying easy mode, but it seems like the developer didn’t want to hurt player’s feelings so they called it Assist Mode which sounds more polite than easy (that’s just my speculation though. I like to come up with backstage stories lol). Standard Mode is normal mode. Most people start off with Standard Mode, which is what I did. But then I realized I had to switch to Assist Mode because I kept dying, trying to explore the police station. It’s difficult to explore if you are new the game because there are enemies (the infamous lickers and the Tyrant) that will get in your way!

RESIDENT EVIL 2

It’s nice that the developer allow you to switch mode in the middle of the game as the earlier Resident Evil games rely heavily on exploration and solving puzzles, which I like very much. I am the type of gamer who enjoy playing games twice: one for story and second for the gameplay. Like anything, practice makes perfect. So the order I went back then, was to play on easy mode to get the feel of the game as I don’t rely on guides. It’s more fun to figure things out yourself. Another generous thing about the remake is that you don’t need ink ribbons to save. In fact, it autosaves quite frequently. So you don’t have to panic about not having enough ink ribbons to save your progress! For some players, especially kids who are just learning how to play games (we’ve all been there) it’s a nice component, but not so much for the veteran players. Lastly, the map is also well thought out. It’s easy to spot what items you missed which make it easier for you to backtrack, and once you found all the items, the location of the map will turn red to clear, which means you don’t need to revisit the area. This saves a lot of time. Can you imagine those who have memory problems? Back in the day, games were kind of hard. Our only cue was looking for flashy things. Games like this really do test your memory skills. Like a mouse in a maze, you got to know where you are going in order to survive. It’s kind of like solving a math equation if you think about it. There is an order to everything.

Overall, I enjoyed the remake. It’s a fun game for newcomers and old fans. But personally, I think the franchise is dead to me as I still have yet to play Resident Evil 7, which I heard was decent, but I’m just not excited enough to play. Nonetheless, it’s still an iconic series that will always have a special place in my heart. The little girl in me likes to come out and shoot some zombie heads once in awhile. I still have to explore the side mini games that the game has to offer.

P.S

There are some jump scare parts. Okay you got me, haha!

Great Story-Driven Horror Games for Halloween

I’ll be honest, I am not much of a routine type of gal. It drives me nuts, but they say– a good blogger must be consistent, so here I am again with my three list of recommendations. Why three you may wonder? Because “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Two can be as bad as one. It’s the loneliest number since the number one” I quote the classic song to whom I don’t know who the artist is haha (let me know if you know!) Yeah, I like three because it’s not lonely! So three it is!

Since I am number one in my universe (I have no one to love so I love myself), the first game on my list I introduce to you folks today is Cat Lady.

The Cat Lady - Wikipedia

If you never heard anything about this game, you would think about a lone suicidal woman who lives by herself (ouch that hurts! I am single, but not suicidal). Well technically there is some partial truth to it, but it’s more of a comedy than horror. Sometimes I get horror mixed up with comedy. Let’s just say I have a morbid sense of humor, it can’t be help! The game is well thought out, poetic, and flows really well. I bought it on Steam for $1.99. Currently it is $9.99. Wait for it to go on sale, it sure beats a cup of coffee at Starbucks any time! If you are suffering from depression, it will make you come out stronger. I love the message.

Now number 2 goes to Detention!

Detention on Steam

This is one is from Redcandlegames, a Taiwanese developer. If you like Silent Hill 2 sort atmosphere then this is the game–even though it’s point and click. The illustration is very nice and the monster are scary and cute. One thing I liked about this game is how realistic the protagonist is as a female character. She is realistically feminine and therefore, relatable. Should check it out if you haven’t already.

Now final but not least! Death Mark!

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This is a visual novel game which I really enjoyed. The soundtrack and the illustration is pretty good. It’s really like reading a horror novel. It is suspenseful and the story is intriguing enough to keep me on my toes. I love it so much I played the sequel: Spirit Hunter NG. Rest assure, if you are the type who gets scared easily, it will not make you pee in your pants or die from shock like we see in House on Haunted Hill (1999). I am referring to the amusement park scene. In my opinion, Japanese are a master at telling horror stories. That’s why I am so addicted to the genre. If you are more curious about this game click on the title above for my review.

Well that is it for now. I thought I would introduce myself in anime style! Hi and bye bye for now!

Reminiscing Friday the 13th (1989)

I don’t know why I always confused the word survivor with survival. They sounds so much alike. For a long time, I kept thinking Survivor Horror instead of Survival Horror. Well I guess technically…Survival Horror genre is all about the survivor. I wrote a post reflecting my childhood experience with Friday the 13th for the NES in celebration of Halloween.

I recall the first game my brother and I played together was Friday the 13th on the NES, released in 1989. I believe my love of Survival Horror games started with Friday the 13th because of its memorable Cabin Theme music. I am still surprised my parents allowed us to play considering my dad disapproved anything scary. But the more you tell a kid no, the likeliness the kid will break the rule. As my dad said, “Children are damnation.” Apparently, all children are a pain in the ass to raise. But I often wonder, how the heck did we end up with this game! Oh wait, it’s because my brother’s a mama’s boy, and mama’s boy always get what he wants.

First off, the game takes place on Crystal Lake campground. There are three male counselors and three female counselors that the player can control. The player controls one counselor at a time. There are fifteen children total but they are all spread out and can be found in the cabins. The main objective of the game is to destroy Jason because he kills children! If all the counselors and children are dead, it’s game over. This game is harder than Dark Souls. No kidding.

The game sounds straight-forward and you might be wondering why the game is scary to a kid. It’s the environment. Looking at the map, the way the campground is laid out, it forces the player to go round and round until he or she dies or destroys Jason. My impression of the campground reminds me an eternal hell. All the cabins look the same, and the landscape doesn’t change much other than there is a shift from day to night time, and backtracking seems never ending. Strangely, this game made me recall a time when I was about 5; my family visited a family friend during the summer. I remember all the houses looked the same in the neighborhood. I don’t know why I stood out in the porch but once I stepped out into the yard, closer to the street, I lost my way. It was the most terrifying feeling. I often wonder, when the developer created Friday the 13th the way it did, did Jason kill children in the movies? My only conclusion is they did it to scare children. From an adult perspective, I cringe just thinking if I had a child who is like me–a child who loves to wander off and go to places independently. I was lucky I never ran into someone like Jason because Jason “doesn’t play favorites.”

Looking back, I thought it was clever that the music sounds upbeat on the trail, but sounds eerie in the cabin because naturally if you are running from something, you probably want to hide. I think home is the place where we all feel the safest.  But these cabins have no furniture, and it felt like a maze just walking through it, pressing the button forward, left, right, then coming to a dead end, to a window or sometimes to a fireplace. I felt nervous that Jason could appear anytime and when he did, the sound always startled me. I would threw the controller to my brother and then he threw it back to me. Just look at the picture below? It’s a toddler trying to run away from a big purple monster!!! I guess Mom was always right, adults can be really scary.

Overall, the game was difficult and felt never ending. Jason kept getting stronger. Player has to beat him three times in three separate days.  But once the pixelated Jason is defeated, he looks cute and reminds me of a distress child. I want to pick him up and cradle the poor thing and say, “Stop being a bully. Learn how to be nice to other kids for crying out loud!”

Anyway, Happy Halloween to those who celebrate it. Stay safe little children because a good mother is only trying to protect you.