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.

Resident Evil 2 Remake Review: An Upgraded Classic Rollercoaster Ride

s1.gaming-cdn.com/images/products/2709/orig/res...

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!

Onimusha: Warlords Review (PS4)

Who in the world watch horror movies and play horror games during the pandemic? Isn’t real life like a horror story? Well that is okay, I won’t judge. My life was never normal to begin with so this is actually normal to me. I’m not phased by the pandemic that much. Welcome to the club, world.

I want to do something a bit different for this blog post, why? No one seems to enjoy reading critical essays beside weirdos like me. So I will talk about games casually and show off my gaming skills: I mean my average gaming skills.

I completed Onimusha: Warlords on easy mode and got a B score. Not so bad for playing the game blindly. Now I know how to beat game faster as I know what to expect. Going to attempt to beat game in 3 hours so I can get a shiny trophy. I’m playing on normal mode without consuming any medicine or herbs. Sounds like a challenge? For me it is–that is why I didn’t mind how short the game is. Typically, I play game twice anyway. One for the story, and two for the gameplay.

One thing that drew me into games in the first place was actually the artistic nature of the game. Onimusha:Warlords is charmingly beautiful. I feel like a little girl again sitting in my coffin-like bedroom playing games with my brother. My brother and I enjoy playing surivival horror games together. Onimusha: Warlords feels like Resident Evil 2 in terms of music placement and stage layout. Instead of killing infected zombies, you kill ninja demons. Because of good game design and the correct usage of colors (lighting in the game is well balanced), I didn’t feel forced to complete a game for the sake of completing the game. Onimusha: Warlords felt smooth and it was pretty to look at. However, this doesn’t make the game perfect. There was one aspect of the game I didn’t enjoy: I had to level up my weapons to unlock certain area to proceed in the game (I hate grinding). Luckily there are only three weapons: blue, red, and green that you can max up to 3 times. Simplicity in weapon choices and upgrades is not a bad thing in game design. In fact, it helps players like me stay focused. Players want to feel that they are progressing. This makes us want to finish the game.

When it comes to story, there is nothing mind blowing about it. The male lead saved the princess. The game follows the same footstep as Resident Evil games in terms of unraveling its tale: You uncover the mystery behind the manor by reading journals left behind. In fact, I had a good laugh reading the journals. It sounds crazy. I didn’t know demons are divided into social class just like we humans. It is a good metaphor to describe selfish evil people. The history of humanity has always fought against darkness and Japan is no exception despite it being so isolated.

Overall, I enjoyed the game, especially the cinematic scenes and well design characters. They were pleasing to my eyes. It’s a shame that PS2 survival horror game-style no longer exists. I am quite fond of it actually.

NightCry: A Cruel but Charming Survival Horror Game

NightCry is indeed a survival horror game and it felt like one. But it made me laugh more than it scared me. Now I sound a bit sadistic, but hear me out.

scissorwalker

The game is designed to have multiple endings, but of course there is a good ending. That’s the one you want! I found myself  playing the game as if I am working on a math equation. The moment where you thought you had the answer, but your answer is wrong because you missed one little step?  Yep, NightCry will steer you to the path where you’d meet your early doom because you got the wrong answer! Occasionally, I heard someone laughing inside my head because I was like a mouse running inside a maze, trying to find an outlet only to find myself at a dead end. What a cruel joke.

Gameplay is very simple: light puzzles, running, and hiding, but you can’t always hide at a place twice, and if you fail to hold your breath, Scissorwalker will cut you up. Yes I died many times.

ScissorwalkerDark.png

The Scissorwalker is a bit humorous to me. That thing likes to play peek-a-boo. Got to be careful not to examine everything, doing so will trigger the Scissorwalker to appear, but it’s necessary. The character runs out of stamina easily and starts falling on the floor, making it easy for Scissorwalker to snip the character to death. So you better know where to run to! I made a mistake entering a dark room without turning on my flashlight. I got killed. I laughed. Game over.

As for the characters, I found them fashionable, simple and charming. There are three characters you can control: Monica, Leonard  and Rooney ( her name sounds like loony).  They are well designed for their roles. In fact, I like all of them.

MonicaMonica

LeonardLeonard

RooneyLooney

I won’t spoil the story for those who are interested in the game, but I think the game is intended for those who are suffering from depression. Sometimes when things get too crazy in life, your mind is switched to survival mode, you got put your hand on your hip and remind yourself you are given life to live. So live!

My final thought for this game is that people experience games differently. Currently my life is not that cheerful so I can relate to both Rooney and Monica. So it may seem odd that I can laugh at such a game. I would classify this game as a dark comedy survival horror game if I could, but that is just subjective. But overall, I enjoyed the game and I’m glad  I didn’t let some negative reviews hindered me from playing. You can never know whether a game is good or not until you try it yourself. Playing a game is a different experience from watching.  So go play it!