Tag Archives: Aksys

Review: NG – Spirit Hunter (Switch) ~ Let’s Play A Ghostly Game, Shall We?

Official Nintendo subsite

I have to admit that this year was an extremely crazy year in terms of games for me. So many amazing games have been released and still have to release. When I reviewed Death Mark last year, I was extremely hyped when I learned that a sequel was in development called NG. It was extremely difficult to find even a shred of information about this game since the abbreviation NG stands for various things like a name to companies. In any case, I didn’t have high hopes that this game was coming to the west. Image my surprise when I saw this game in the “Coming Soon” section of the Nintendo Switch eShop. I patiently waited until the release date and when the release date came, I bought it during my break and let it download while I was at work so I could play it right away when I came home. Now, was it worth it? Is this game as good as the previous game or should you skip this game? Let’s take a look at this game, while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Let’s play a Ghostly Game, shall we?

This game is the 2nd game in the Spirit Hunter series. The first game was Death Mark. This game isn’t a sequel of that game nor is it a continuation. This game just takes the whole gameplay concept and puts it into a new story and setting.

The story of this game is quite interesting. You play as the protagonist, that you can name yourself. His mother died a few years prior to this game and now he is living alone. His aunt took him in. She is a horror novel author and she runs a bar on the side. Her daughter became quite good friends with the protagonist. One evening, the protagonist finds a black postcard at his doorstep inviting him to play a game with a Princess. He simply ignores this because he thinks that it’s a simple prank.

But, that’s a mistake he is going to regret since not too long after he encounters his first ghost. After that, a ghost kidnaps his cousin and invites him to play a game. If he doesn’t play along, the curse will kill him.

Now, if you have played Death Mark, the curse works quite similar to the Death Mark of the original game. This curse is a sort of time limit in which you have to solve the case of the spirit you have to defeat or purify. Unlike the previous game, the protagonist doesn’t have one evening to deal with the spirit, but he has a bit more time.

While I would love to tell you more about the story of this game, I don’t think that’s a great idea. Since the story is that more enjoyable the less you know in advance. The twists and turns of the story are just amazing. The writing, the jokes, the pacing, the horror… everything comes together quite nicely in this game and I’m bumped out that I have finished this game.

There are some mechanics in this game that even give some replay value to this game. Now that I have finished this game, I want to replay this game and take it in a totally different direction to see where I end up.

This game has some minor Japanese voice acting as well. This isn’t overused at all and it’s used to add some punch to certain dialogues. The voice acting itself is done quite well, the voice acting of the ghosts are personally my favorites. The creepy effects and distortion the developers added to the voice acting is just amazing.

The slider of spooks

An extremely nice feature is the different modes you can play the game in. Like Death Mark, this game contains some jump scares and spooks. They are extremely well crafted and in most cases fit the story nicely. Also, they trigger when you investigate certain sections so it’s quite possible to miss multiple spooks. Some spooks mess with the text or the screen instead of a ghost popping up.

These different modes affect the amount of jump scares and spooks that happen. When you dislike these spooks or jumps scares, you can tone them down and even turn them off completely. I played through this game with all the jump scares intact and I have to say that it added quite a lot to the atmosphere of this game.

The atmosphere is quite creepy, to begin with. The writing draws you into the game and the amazing artwork and illustrations make the world come alive. There isn’t a lot in terms of animations but the beautiful artwork more than makes up for it. For example, the artwork of some death scenes is just extremely well done.

The character portraits, the design of the spirits, the design of the environments… It’s clear that quite a lot of thought and detail has been put into it. I’m quite thankful that the developers added a button to hid the on-screen UI to take screenshots of those amazing scenes to make them even more memorable.

Something that I find a tad bit irritating was the decision to make the “L” button the skip dialogue option. I think that another button like one of the arrow keys on the D-pad would have worked better. Since I can’t count on my two hands anymore the number of times I accidentally pressed the button and skipped a bit of the text. Thankfully, there is an easy way to bring up the log and you can re-read what you skipped.

Everything goes in that log that appears on the screen. From you trying to use an item to decisions you have to make. For some reason, I wasn’t always able to bring up this log easily. In most cases when the log refused to open, I was trying to investigate something. So, quickly going out of investigation mode was the solution.

Speaking of this mode, this is the only mode that allows you to save your game. You are unable to access the save menu while in a dialogue section. Thankfully, the dialogues aren’t Corpse Party Blood Drive long, so an investigation section can be right up the corner.

One thing that I found a real shame is some minor bugs in the UI of the options menu. In one option, the text overflows its checkbox and in another option, they forgot to remove a character at the end of the description. These are minor mistakes that can easily be patched out.

Gameplay-wise, this game is quite addictive. You have to explore the different area’s to either purify or destroy the spirit haunting the place. In order to do this, you explore at night with a partner and search for different subsections of this area.

You explore parts of a town, an office building, and various other locations. You search these locations for clues and items to learn more about the spirit and try and defeat/purify them. The better you explore and investigate the area, the more information you have in the fight with the spirit. If you have played Death Mark, you will feel right at home since it looks quite similar.

I found the gameplay of this game quite addictive. I wanted to keep playing and experience the story to it’s a full conclusion. And yes, now that I have beaten the game, I’m considering playing through the whole game again and trying to take a different route to see where it leads me. I know that this game has multiple endings, but I would love to see how much endings there are.

One extremely welcome improvement over Death Mark I have to mention is that when you want to swap partners, you can do that more easily now. You don’t have to go the whole way back to the mansion, you can easily go to the start of the place you are searching and ask the person directly.

Think quick!

There are some more things to do in this game compared to Death Mark. The items you choose still decide the outcome of purification of the spirit of destruction, but there are more things that matter now. Speaking about that in more detail would spoil certain story sections.

The whole spirit fighting mechanic has been reworked. Now, you don’t have to combine items anymore to attack the spirit, but you have to use your items in the area and analyze the situation. I love these spirits fights a whole lot more compared to Death Mark. The improvements these fights bring to the table are just amazing. It brings a bit more challenge to the table.

On top of that, there are now 2 styles of quick decision-making sections. Both work extremely similar and have the same outcome when you fail. A Game Over. One of these styles is a crisis choice, as you can see in the screenshot in this section of the article. Like Death Mark, the “1000” ticks down as soon as you are able to make a selection. Unlike Death Mark, you can’t find charms to increase this time and it also resets back to 100 each and every time you encounter that section.

Now, this game is quite lengthy. To beat the game, you will need to put give or take 20 hours aside. Let’s not forget to mention the fact that this game is somewhat replayable due to the “emotional reaction system”. Now, you can react with different emotions in certain sections. I have no idea if this makes a difference to the story. But, I have tried it one and it makes the characters react quite differently.

Something that does matter is during some sections you have to make harsh decisions that affect the story to a big degree. I wish I could talk about them, but that would spoil the big parts of the story and that’s something I’m trying to avoid in this review.

Another interesting game mechanic is the “D-Man”. This strange man texts you riddles that you can solve to find cards. These cards contain throwbacks to the previous game or add to the lore of the game. These are a joy to read but contain some spoilers of the previous game. Thankfully, only about the DLC bonus case, so it isn’t THAT bad. Now, the search for these cards works in a very unique way. As soon as you get the text, you have to look around in the area you are in. As soon as you exit the area, you will be unable to search for that card again. You’ll also lose the items you obtained and needed to find the said card. So, be careful.

An easy question to ask is, how difficult is this game? Well, this game is tricky. There are some sections that took me several attempts. In most cases, it was because I overlooked one item or didn’t check my area thoroughly enough. Thankfully, the game is quite forgiving with checkpoints and when you fail a crisis choice or spirit encounter, you can easily restart the whole fight by selecting the wanted option in the “Game Over” menu.

One of the biggest mistakes in this game is the save system in my opinion. I feel that it’s a downgrade compared to the system of Death Mark. There is no autosave, there are fewer save slots and there is less information on the save/load screen compared to the previous game. This is something I wish that will be improved in the possible sequel. Yes, a sequel has been sort of announced/confirmed. You can read more information on the article that Gematsu published a month ago.

The controls of this game are quite simple. They are easy to grasp and master. The only minor thing is that in some areas the spotlight isn’t bright enough to see where the spotlight is on the background art. Thankfully, this happens in only a few places, so it isn’t THAT bad.

Something I’m a bit mixed about is that this game doesn’t have a lot of music. Most of the music is also re-used from the previous game or sounds extremely similar. The music is amazing in this game and I wish I able to buy the soundtrack somewhere. Since I want to add this soundtrack to my music library when I’m relaxing or writing other articles.

And with that said, I said everything I wanted to say about this game. I have left out a few things so they can be surprised at you when you play this game. I think it’s high time for the conclusion of this article, don’t you think?

Conclusion

The bad:
-Some minor UI elements that could easily be fixed.

-The save feature could have been expanded quite a bit.
The good:

+ Amazing writing and story.

+ Great visuals.

+ The ability to disable the jump scares if you dislike them.

+ Great challenging puzzles

+ ….
Final thoughts:
This game is quite an improvement over Death Mark. Last year, Death Mark was one of my favorite games of 2018. This game is one of my favorite games of this year. This game is the perfect game to play during Halloween. I can’t recommend this game enough for fans of Death Mark, fans of horror games and fans of visual novels. I would even recommend this game to fans of adventure games.

This game is one of the best visual novels I have played in a while. And it’s up to high competition like Ai: Somnium Files. This will be quite interesting in my “Top 10 Games of 2019”. Take it from me, give this game a try. Because it’s totally worth playing and experiencing this game.

Of course, this game has some shortcomings like the bare bones save system and some minor annoyances with the controls but these are easily overlooked and don’t hinder the enjoyment of the game too much or even at all.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this game as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 100/100

First Impression: Zero Escape Dilemma (3DS) ~ Let’s play a game, shall we?

zero time dilemma boxZero Escape Wikia entry

If you didn’t expect this game to get an article this week, you might have missed all my clues on Twitter. I was extremely hyped for this game and it’s finally here! This game has got a rocky development and it was almost canceled. For the people who don’t know this series, let me quickly introduce this game. This game is the 3rd installment in the excellent Zero Escape series on (3)DS and PSVita. It’s a horror visual novel game with escape the room puzzles. These games should be played in order to fully enjoy them. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons and 9 Doors was the first one. The second one was Virtue’s Last Reward. Both excellent games. This game is on the 3DS eShop, PSVita and also released on the PC. In any case, enough rambling in this introduction. It’s time to talk about this game and what I think about it. Was it worth the hype & wait or does it stink? Let’s find out. Keep in mind, I’m playing the 3DS version and I don’t own the other versions. Oh, and don’t worry, I selected the screenshots and wrote this article to be as spoiler free as possible. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Different game style

The story this time around isn’t about a nonary game like in the previous entries. While it isn’t 100% needed to play the previouzero time dilemmas games, but it’s highly recommend. Since a lot of references and explanations will be very confusing otherwise.

Something that I found really surprising is that this game isn’t linear, at all. You can play sequences out of order. You would think that this would make a confusing story, but thankfully… They thought about that. There is a story mechanic that helps playing this story driven game out of order.

I have played this game for a bit now and I’m nowhere near finished. The current plot points and twists I already saw were mind-blowing. The writing in this game is truly amazing. It pulls me into its world with ease. One time, I was so focused on the story, I almost missed my stop. I had to dash to get outside the train.

I’m really curious how the story will wrap up, since Virtue’s Last Reward ended with a huge cliffhanger. I’m looking forward to that.

The final thing I want to say about the story is that I’m really thankful that some terms and mechanics of the previous games are quickly explained. It helps me when I had forgotten something from the previous games.

In the previous entry, Virtue’s Last Reward there was a nasty saving bug. It was, as far as I know, only present in the 3DS version. It happened in one room and in certain situations. If you saved then, your save would get corrupted and you had to start all over.

Thankfully, Aksys learned its lesson and implemented three save slots in this game. But so far, I haven’t encountered any problems with saving. Also, three save slots make sense since you can play this game out of order.

The music in this game is very good. While it uses a couple of tracks from the previous game, the new tracks are pretty nice to listen too. The music feels similar but is unique too. It fits the scary and tense atmosphere the story is trying to set.

The sound design is pretty well done, I have no complaints there. So far, so good. The only complaint I have is that, on the default settings, the music overpowers the voice acting from time to time. But it’s easily fixed with putting the volume of the music a bit down.

Not so much reading anymore?

zero time dilemma 2In the two previous entries, you could read everything. From time to time, it was more a novel then a game. But not in this game, almost everything is voice acted. The parts that aren’t voice acted are the dialogues inside the puzzle rooms.

I’m not 100% happy with that. Honestly, I’m 90% happy with it, but sometimes I miss the atmospheric writing that detailed how the main character felt or gave more details about the situation.

I have to praise this game for its voice acting. I’m playing this game with the English voice acts and they sound awesome! Sometimes, the emotions of the characters really shine through. I really felt that the voice actors really put a lot of effort into this game and gave it more than their best.

Something I think is the weakest point in this game is some visual issues. In some cutscenes, I felt that the characters were too static. I honestly think, that if Uchikoshi (writer / developer of the series) had more staff and money, it would look a whole lot better.

Also, some textures could have been polished up a bit more. For example, there is an emblem on one of the characters his shirt, and you can barely make it out what it is. Or in another scene, somebody looks at a carpet on the floor. When the camera looks down, I almost felt that they used the fill tool in a paint program. Or in some cutscenes, the hair or eyebrows of some characters are clipping with something. Which is a shame.

All in all, the finer details could have been polished a bit more. While the animations are pretty good, there is barely any animation where two people do something together.

Don’t get me wrong here, visually this game looks stunning on the 3DS. While some people found it a bummer that they dropped 3D support, I don’t mind. Apart from lacking some polish; the escape rooms, characters, cutscenes and environments look crisp and detailed. I also truly love the style they used in this game.

Life is simple unfair, don’t you think?

So, this game is still a puzzle game. The escape rooms are really challenging this zero time dilemma 3time around. In the previous games, I almost never got stuck in a room or on a puzzle. But this time around, some of  the rooms are real brain teasers in my opinion.

This game can be very difficult if you don’t see the solution to the puzzle. I do have to agree with the other reviewers, this game really lacks a hint system. Like the “Easy mode” in Virtue’s Last Reward, where some of your companion characters almost literally explained what you needed to do.

The controls of this game are very good. Apart from some minor issues I had in some rooms with the touch screen, I found that the controls were, like I said earlier, very good. A small piece of advice from me, I feel that the buttons work a bit better when you need to move the camera from point a to point b. When you need to press something finer, use the stylus. That’s the best way to play this game in my eyes.

From what I have seen, this game is a very long game. This is a very good thing, since this game has it’s hooks into to me.

If you have read my blog before, you know that I also like to talk about the UI/menu systems. Since I feel that they are important. The menu system in this game is almost perfect. Something that bugs me is that you can use the d-pad to navigate the general flow chart, but if you switch to the 2nd flow chart (where they display pictures of the event), you suddenly can’t do that anymore.

There was also one time that I had to input a few passwords that were said earlier. I forgot to wrote them down and suddenly I was unable to open the logs. So, I had to restart that segment.

In first impression of this game is pretty good. The game we got is amazing. Yet, the fact that this game was made by a small group shows its signs. I honestly think this game would have looked a lot better when they had a bigger team and a bigger budget. Maybe this game gets some polish with a patch or two. But honestly, I don’t think the game NEEDS it. Since it has a certain charm that I think would get lost.

@Uchikoshi, if you or somebody on your staff reads this… I have a message for you guys and girls. Thank you for creating this game. I bought it on day one and I’m really pleased with it. While there are somethings that could have been improved, the end result is an amazing game. I wish you girls and guys the best. Here is to a 4th game in the series or an equally awesome new project. I really love the series you made! If you don’t make a sequel, I’m hoping that you make a new game and/or series. I’m so looking forward to it.

I wish I could say more, but then I would go into spoiler territory. Also, I haven’t finished the game so my final opinion might change. I’m planning to write a full review when I have beaten this game. So yeah, I think I’ll wrap up this article here. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you for reading and I hope to welcome you in another article. But until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!~