Halloween is almost here, and if you’re looking to get into the mood with some creepy anime, we have just the thing to send shivers down your spine and haunt your dreams tonight. Some anime is creepy due to its themes, some rely on suspense, mystery, or intrigue, while others just rely on out right horror and gore. No matter which you prefer, you’ll find something to watch on our list here. Or leave a comment below with your favorite scary anime.
Title: Ancient Magus Bride
Based On the Manga by Kore Yamazaki
Episodes: 24 Episodes
Genre: Fantasy, Super Natural, Mystery, Romance, Slice of Life
Studio: Wit Studio
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Overall: 38/45 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Geeky: 3/5 – A great story with high production values, a good blend of action, comedy, mystery and romance make this show a hit with geeks of either gender. I took away 1 point for the somewhat slow pacing of the early episodes, and 1 point away for the character designs – they don’t feel as clean or modern as most other contemporary anime characters, even though I understand that’s the style also of the original manga.
Sweetie: 4/5 – Chise is a unique female lead. In the begining she is broken inside, however we watch her become stronger and transform due to her magic training and new found feelings and emotions.
Story: 10/10 – (Note there may be spoilers in this paragraph up to episode 12). The story is quite interesting, Chise has seen strange monsters and creatures since she was very young. Paralyzed by fear, Chise withdraws from the world around her. Her parents are unsure how to handle her, so her dad runs off and her mother kills herself. Chise is passed off to other family members but they also don’t know how to handle Chise’s unique condition. At one point, Chise discovers someone very similar to herself, able to see the same creatures as well. He grants Chise a special book. In the end, he entrusts Chise with a special request which leads her on her path. Chise wants to escape her world, to the point she tries to kill herself, and doesn’t care what happens to her or anyone else. Sensing Chise’s magical abilities, men approach her and get her to sign a contract, placing her in a strange auction for magical goods. Elias meets Chise at this auction and purchases her to be his apprentice, and future bride. Thus Chise’s magical training begins. Chise is later discovered to be a Sleigh Beggy. A person who can see spirits and fairies. These people usually live short lives because their magic powers are so strong and so draining. Elias is working on a spell that can break the “curse” upon Chise, while also showing her love and affection and giving her a home for the first time. Chise’s heart begins to open and she too begins to show Elias what it is like to be loved for the first time. As part of their “honey moon” they travel around the world helping people with magic quests, which further help Chise develop her skills and talents.
At time of this blog post, the series is halfway complete, with many more mysteries and questions to be answered:
What/Who is Elias? (I haven’t read the manga, and I’m probably way off base, but I wonder if he’s at all related to the person who gave her the book at the beginning of the anime)
WTF happened to Chise’s little sister/brother? Maybe it’s as simple as a miscarriage? Maybe it’s related to why Chise’s mom killed herself?
Why did Chise’s mom kill herself? (It’s later revealed that she at one point really loved Chise, and that both of her parents saw the same spirits and creatures that Chise sees)
What happened to Chise’s father? Will he ever be back in the picture?
Will Chise die from her magical abilities, or will Elias find a way to save her?
Will Elias ever become human?
Can Chise and Elias’ love survive all of the odds against them?
All of these questions keep you intrigued and watching each week.
Characters: 8/10 – The characters are interesting and unique. Chise starts out very weak and hard to like, but as the series progresses she matures and finds her own confidence and independence. We also witness the relationship and Elias’ changes as well. All of the minor characters are also awesome. Silky is so funny even though she is silent. And the back story of how Chise gets her familiar, Ruth, is very touching. Ruth is one of my favorite characters in the anime.
Artwork: 3/5 – I’m not a fan of the character designs as mentioned above; they just don’t seem very clean and kinda have a retro vibe. The backgrounds and effects on the other hand are lovely.
Music: 5/5 – This anime has some of the best music I have ever heard. I love both the opening and ending, but my favorite song is Iruna Etelero, the flower song that Lindel sings in episodes 11 and 12. It’s maybe my favorite song, ever, of all time, from anything, tv, anime, video game, radio, etc. It’s so beautiful and soothing.
Voice Acting: 5/5 – The voice acting is also another highlight of this anime. They really make the characters more unique and bring their emotions to life. From the deep booming voice of Elias, to the sweet soft voice of Lindel, or the sarcastic and sadistic voice of one of the series’ first villains, each character is well cast.
Overall: 38/45 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Tsukihime was my very first visual novel, and still one of my favorites. While looking up images to use in this post, I also came across news that there’s a remake in the works. This is old news I guess as it was first announced clear back in 2012. However, a post from Siliconera indicates that yes, it’s still in development as of July 2015, so that’s a good sign. You can see more updates about this remake over on Siliconera here.
I’m not going to cover those details here, because this review is actually for the original Tsukihime visual novel from 2001. Also, I’ve never watched the anime, I’ve been told by many people that the Tsukihime anime sucked. Please don’t ignore this visual novel, even if you really hated the anime. This is a must play for any visual novel fan.
PS: You can grab the fan translation here. I couldn’t find a link for you guys to buy the game as it is now out of print, but Yahoo Japan Auctions or Ebay may be a good place to look. This game has never officially been released in English; but maybe now with the remake, we’ll finally see a commercial release.
P.P.S: This game is set in the same universe as Fate/Extra which is available in English. Instead of being a visual novel though, it’s an RPG that plays EXTREMELY similar to the Persona series. It’s a great game, and it’s getting older, and may become harder to find. If you like persona, or like Tsukihime, then you need to get this game. You can get Fate/Extra on Amazon for $44.95 here.
Also, Please Note: This is a Hentai Game, which means that it has adult scenes. — However, those scenes are very few in nature. This game is very long with an excellent story, and the hentai is near the end of each route. For example, I estimate it’ll take you at least 60 hours to complete all the routes in this game. The amount of hentai scenes in the game accounts for less than 2 hours from that total. You can always skip past those scenes if it makes you uncomfortable. Also one of the routes is with the main character’s sister, so if that makes you uncomfortable, you may either not want to play that route, or skip this game entirely. This is an adult game, and should not be played by children. Not only does it have a few sex scenes, but it has a TON of gore. It’s a very violent game.
Title: Tsukihime – Blue, Blue Glass Moon, Under the Crimson Sky
Release Date: 2001 (Japan only)
Genre: Visual Novel
Overall: 57/80 71% C- “Good Game for Girls”
Concept: 10/10 Tsukihime is a visual novel with a dark, sad, and super natural story. It’s a very violent game. It’s also a hentai game. The writing in Tsukihime is exceptional. The characters are really unique and detailed. The writing is almost TOO detailed at times. I was really cringing in some of the scenes with Ciel near the end. It still makes my finger nails hurt just thinking about it haha. Overall it’s a great game. It has kinda amateurish artwork. It’s actually a Doujin game – which I guess is the equivalent to what we western folk call “Indie Games” – that is, Type-Moon began as a group of fans working on a game together, and not a big corporation. Given that – I think the artwork is acceptable since they didn’t necessarily have the budget or skill and experience as more established studios.
Gameplay: 3/10 Like most visual novels, there’s nothing to do except read, and click, and read, and click ad nauseam. The choices presented to you are also pretty dang spread out and few in number. The choices do matter and determine which route you get on. If you’re stuck, also there’s a tips section that’s set up in a really unique and humorous way. There’s also of course the option to skip previously read text. But it’s pretty basic visual novel style gameplay here. You don’t really play this game for gameplay, you play it for story, but I’m scoring story separately below. so Gameplay wise, it’s about a 3.
Story: 10/10 The reason I love this visual novel so much is because of the story. It’s a long tale with some surprising twists especially regarding Shiki (the player character) and the two maid twins. It’s been a few years since I played, but I think one of the maid’s routes only unlocks after completing all other good and true endings – and her route really will close the loop nicely on all the questions from the previous routes, bringing the game a good sense of closure.
I don’t want to spoil the story, but the bare bones is as follows (may spoil the first hour or so of the game for you): You play as Shiki; he has been hospitalized and sick for a long time. Shiki has a memory of a girl who disappeared from his life who was very kind to him and encouraged him greatly. The other girls throughout the game will remind him of his mystery girl in his memories. Somewhere along the way while hospitalized, he discovered he could see the “life line” in all things – living or even inanimate objects. Because he was bored and stuck in a hospital bed, he discovered one day that just by idly tracing his finger over this “life line” he could erase whatever that object was from existence. Not just “killing” whatever it was, but making it so it never “was” to begin with. Finally now he’s going home from the hospital. He gets notice that his father died and that he is being requested to move back to his childhood home. He has not been home in many years. Shiki becomes reacquainted with his sister and the maids of the mansion where he used to play as a child. He also begins going back to school. On his way to school one day he passes by a beautiful woman. He doesn’t know why, but he feels compelled to follow her. He waits until she enters her apartment, and he can’t resist the urge to murder her. Shiki is not a violent person; he’s never hurt anyone before, but he feels disgusted by this woman. He cannot control himself and completely destroys her, chopping her to bits with a knife and brutally attacking her. Much to Shiki’s surprise, as he’s leaving school the next day, the woman is there again in the same place where they met the day before. It turns out that she is a vampire, and that’s why Shiki could not kill her. It’s also explained why he felt so compelled to kill her (and about his strange power to see life lines) later on in the story – but I won’t spoil that for you just now. Needless to say, the vampire is pissed, and she also has a mission she’s on, so she forces Shiki to basically become her slave and help her by using his power of being able to see life lines to obliterate anyone or anything from existence.
Characters: 10/10 Each of the characters has a different super natural secret. Also all characters have a “good” ending and a “true” ending which is much sadder. The character interaction is really high. The characters are unique, and as the mystery plays out you do see them evolve and change. You also are drawn to the characters and begin to feel their pain and saddness. Most of their pasts are very sad.
Graphics: 3/10 Sorry to say, but these graphics are bad. They’re ugly, the proportions are weird, and they just look very amateurish. The picture I’ve attached is from the 2001 visual novel. You can see how her head almost seems to be detached from her neck and at a funny angle – and this one of the more “pretty” pictures that I could find. (Not counting the anime or fanart or etc) Luckily, in the new remake the artwork is much higher quality, while still having the same character designs and appearance, just being redrawn and recolored in a more modern style. These graphics are no where nearly as bad as the original Higurashi – but still bad lol. By that, if Higurashi is like a 1 on a 10 scale, Tsukihime is maybe a 3. A slight improvement, but still not even “average” looking.
Music: 7/10 I like the music and sound effects used in Tsukihime. It fits the mood perfectly and gives it a nice dark and mysterious feeling. However, ultimately, none of the tracks really stand out in a memorable way.
Replay Value: 10/10 The game is long in and of itself. Each route will probably take 6-10 hours to complete. When you factor in the multiple endings for each character, that extends that time to 12-20 hours per character with 4 dateable characters – you’re looking around 60-80 hours of gameplay time. And it’s well worth it. The story and each of the routes are really interesting. The stories do start a bit slow, but you learn more and more about Shiki, his powers, his past, and just why he was sent away from his childhood home in the first place. Really great story, worth playing all routes to see how all the puzzle pieces fit together. The new remake is adding more characters and routes, so I’m really looking forward to it. I just hope they don’t change the story too much as it’s so good already as it is!
Overall: 57/80 71% C- “Good Game for Girls”
Erased is pretty much THE anime of 2016. I’m sure you have probably at least heard of it, if not watched it yourself even. I really enjoyed this anime despite it being so predictable that I knew who the killer was by the 2nd or 3rd episode. — Don’t worry I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it yet (or haven’t figured it out themselves).
Erased has awesome music and a neat time-travel theme. Are you sad that Erased is over? I highly recommend that you check out Re:Zero – a currently running anime with a very similar time travel concept.
Title: Erased (aka Boku Dake ga Inai Machi – The Town Without Only Me)
Genre: Seinen, Murder, Mystery, Scifi
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Length: 12 Episodes
Release Date: 2016
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Overall: 36 / 40 90% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”
Story: 9/10 (Possible spoilers from first episode) The story begins with our main character, Satoru, delivering a pizza, suddenly as he’s driving down the street, he realizes he’s been there before. He explains that he has special powers which rewind time a few minutes before an accident occurs and that even though it’s against his better judgement he somehow always gets involved in other people’s problems to save them. This time he saves a little kid about to step into traffic. After he gets off work he goes home to find his mom is in town visiting him. He goes with his mom to the store, and he feels that something is not right. He tells his mom to look around for anything suspicious. She sees a man trying to abduct a child, but the man’s eyes meet her gaze and he gives up on his plan. Later, the man decides to kill the main character’s mom. The main character is blamed and framed for the murder of his mother – as he flees from the cops, he triggers another time jump – this time all the way back to when he was 8 years old – more than 20 years into the past.
There is something that happened when he was 8 years old that will set the course in motion for his mother’s death. Now he must figure out what exactly that is. The problem is, he’s just a kid, and while he has his memories of being an adult, he’s not as strong, and not able to do things he used to do (stay out late, go places unsupervised, etc). His friends help him “play detective” though only one of them actually believes that it’s more than just make believe. It turns out that when he was 8 years old, several of his class mates were abducted and murdered. The man thought of committing these murders was sentenced to life in prison. Could it be they have the wrong man? Can Satoru solve the mystery and save his classmates – and his mom?
The only reason I give this a 9 instead of 10 is because they made it so obvious who the killer was and did so too soon! I had it figured out by the 2nd or 3rd episode (Then again, this is a short series). It kinda killed the mystery which is sorta the whole point of this series. It’s still an awesome anime though and the story is really good! Good mix of comedy, suspense, horror, scifi, and even romance. There’s some changes from the manga – because the manga was still running when the anime aired.
The manga develops Kayo and Airi a lot more (Kayo never does move away and becomes part of their group instead of just disappearing. And with Airi we learn more about her dream (to be a photographer which makes the ending of the anime make more sense lol.) However, I think overall, the anime really captured the heart of the story and although the endings are drastically different, they really still follow the same formula with Satoru being framed for another attempted murder.
Characters: 9/10 I really loved the characters in this anime. They are so unique – from our main character, a struggling manga artist, to his mom with her sharp instincts, to his friends who range from chubby comedy support, to handsome young intelligent and level headed, to various love interests throughout the characters’ pasts and future. There are some really touching moments. More than anything, Satoru wants to protect the people he loves. This really shows through the character dialog and interaction. Once again, some of the characters are not as well developed in the anime adaptation as opposed to the manga. The anime is a bit rushed which causes certain chapters of the manga to be omitted completely, including an entire chapter devoted to Airi. Even still, I think the characters and their interaction is one of the highlights of this series.
Artwork: 5/5 Since it is a recent release, the artwork is clean, the animation is fluid, and the character designs are very attractive. – I also read the manga after watching this – and dang, that’s one ugly manga lol. (still well worth the read). I do like how they took certain things from the manga, like how the characters’ lips are very full, etc. It gives them a unique appearance. But I’m glad that it polishes these designs and changes them to look much cleaner and fresher. It has the spirit of the manga, but a very different style overall.
Music: 5/5 – If I could rate this on a higher scale, I would, but to keep in form with my other reviews we’ll stick to this formula. The music is one of the best anime soundtracks of 2016 so far. I really loved the opening song – which apparently is an old Jrock song from the 90s which used to be really popular. Kinda fits with the time travel theme to use a “throwback” opening song – and it’s just so catchy! The music throughout the rest of the series was also just really good.
Overall: 36 / 40 90% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”
Xenogears is easily in my top 10 favorite games of all time. I also enjoy Xenosaga and Xenoblade as well which are spinoffs of this series (and involved most of the same staff). Xenogears was revolutionary for its time because of the extremely dark storyline and incredibly strong religious overtones which were considered to be almost “too mature” for a video game, especially in North America.
It had both scifi and fantasy elements; by that I mean, it really went into depth in some areas explaining the scientific theories and concepts behind certain things – but then other things have a more “magical” feeling that require suspension of belief. It also blended high tech (mecha, A.I., and space travel) with primitive “fantasy” style settings and characters.
Xenogears had some stellar production values and featured beautiful cutscenes, along with possibly the best soundtrack on Playstation One. Not only that, but it had 65+ hours of gameplay. Its storyline was not cookie cutter – it was very different from most other JRPG – and even its combat system was different from the traditional menu-based systems used by most other RPGs of the 90s.
To this day, Xenogears remains quite possibly one of the best JRPGs of all time. It has aged extremely well and is a game that really any JRPG fan should consider a must-play.
Platform: Playstation One
Release Date: 1998
Where to Buy: Your best choice if you have a PSP, PSVita, PS3, or PS4, is to pick it up on the PSN store. At time of writing it is priced at $9.99 – which is such an incredible buy for such an incredible game. https://store.playstation.com/… – However, if like some gamers out there, you are a Retro Game Collector, you may want the physical edition. At time of this review, Amazon has quite a few copies in stock ranging from $29.99 to $115 depending on the condition of the game disc, case, manuals, etc. You can see what they have available right here: http://www.amazon.com/Xenogears…
Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”
Gameplay: 10/10 The game world is huge and rich in lore and history for those who love to explore and talk to NPCs or search through books and hidden objects. But even if completionism and immersion aren’t your thing – fear not – this little RPG actually has a pretty fun combat system. The combat system is two fold – in some battles you will be controlling human characters, and using martial arts like abilities as well as items to aid you in battle. This part of the combat relies on a slightly modified version of the “ATB” “Active Time Battle” system used in Chrono Trigger. – The second aspect of combat is with the introduction of large mechs known as Gears. While piloting a gear, you have much more powerful attacks and secret abilities for each character. Either way, when battling, things are sped up a great deal over other primarily menu-driven 90s JRPG – In Xenogears, you have various different levels of attacks, strong, moderate, weak, etc, and each are accessed via a simple button press. The trick is learning which orders of these presses will activate new special abilities and combo attacks. This made the large amount of random encounters (too many in my opinion lol) more enjoyable since combat felt more fluid.
Story: 9/10 I’m not going to really go into too much detail on what the story is about, because I feel, the main point in playing the game is to enjoy the story. As a brief overview, the story initially takes place aboard a spaceship but quickly jumps to present day in a tiny village where a child has lived with no memories of his past. Circumstances happen which drive the child (now a man) out of the village. He seems to go berserk when in the presence of mechanical weapons known as “gears” – As more is revealed we learn how the seemingly unconnected spaceship from the prologue has lead to the events in the present day. But that’s all I will say because to say anything more would definitely spoil the surprise.
So instead I will critique the technical writing and setting of the story. To achieve a more mature “scifi” story, they use a lot of technical details in how the mechs or vehicles, or space technologies or artificial intelligence, etc all work. They borrow from real world theories and terminology which if you look into these theories, you will find more details which helps create the impression that the world/story is very real and quite fascinating.
There really are very few games which rival the “scifi” nature of this title – keeping in mind the difference between scifi and fantasy – scifi is something which could in theory at some point become a reality – and in fact many things that authors have written about in the mid 1900s’ have come to pass as reality today – it’s something that although it seems “unbelievable” could in theory work (example Star Trek goes into explicit detail about the way their ships work – to the point where NASA has even tried to borrow ideas from this series) – Where as with fantasy – it’s more of a magical element, where you’re just expected to take it as “faith” that this is how something works (example, Harry Potter, etc.).
There are few games therefore, with very realistic (all be it, futuristic) technology (such as that found in Star Trek, or in this case, such as that found in Xenogears). – However, Xenogears also blends that Scifi with its own sense of Fantasy and Charm found in your typical JRPG. Not everything is “Scientific” but compared to just about any other JRPG – Xenogears does a pretty good job staying “Scifi” as opposed to dripping into Fantasy when it comes to describing the tech found within the world – Of course, the exception to this is the glaring point that Xenogears deals with Religion as the MAIN focus of the game – the technical stuff is just a backdrop to the story. It creates a believable lore and setting for the game, but ultimately, in the end, due to the focus being on Religion which is in direct “conflict” with science, it creates an interesting dynamic and blend of these two very opposing viewpoints.
Some similarly written games (which rely on real world theories and science to tell their stories) include Stein’s Gate, Ever 17, 999, Never 7, and Remember 11. If you’ve played any of those, that gives you a clue as to the level of detail that really went into creating the story of Xenogears.
However, much like the similar in concept, Evangelion (an anime about mechs and religion), the concepts of Xenogears are sometimes hard to understand. I don’t think Xenogears is quite as philosophical and heavy as Evangelion which can be really “out there” at times – but the subject matter and technical and religious topics dealt with in the story definitely require some critical thinking to fully understand and appreciate.
Also, we never got to see the entire story the way the developers had intended. Xenogears was supposed to be part of a nine part game series however, the studio largely responsible for developing this game (Monolith), broke away from their parent company (Squaresoft) which left fans without a sequel for many years. It’s widely believed that Xenoblade is a “prequel” to Xenogears, however the developers prefer to think of it as taking place in the same universe, but ultimately, an unrelated and separate entry. Of course there’s also a multitude of Xenosaga games as well which also deal with the same themes of space, mechas, war, and artificial intelligence.
Characters: 8/10 – For me, I didn’t find the characters as likable as in Xenosaga. Out of Gears, Blade, or Saga, in my opinion, Saga had the best and most memorable characters. That said, the characters in Xenogears are far from bad – in fact, they are very unique and unlike most other JRPG characters of the 90s. The story begins with a crew aboard a spaceship, which then transcends to a small village and meeting our “hero” Fei Wong. Fei is an orphan with no memories of his past. Things quickly escalate as the village is under attack. Fei goes into some kind of rage which leads to him accidentally destroying most of the village and being banished. He is joined by a village doctor who has extensive knowledge of technology and history. Together they begin to search for clues to Fei’s past. They meet up many other memorable characters including a desert pirate, a prisoner, a religious zealot, and even a cute, fat pink rodent, and of course, a lady love for our hero.
Character Development is really high in this game. The story is told primarily through character interactions and the characters themselves evolve and shift motives and change deeply as the story progresses.
What I really enjoyed was all the mystery in this game. Things, and people, are not at all what they seem at first. From our hero, to the doctor, to the king, to even god, – what you think of the characters and their roles initially will be turned completely on its head by the final quarter of the game. It’s a long game (65+ hours for a single play through) – and the way the story slowly unfolds and learning the true pasts and identities of our “heroes” is very interesting. In fact, I’d say that solving these mysteries is what makes Xenogears such a well-written and fun, and memorable video game.
Graphics: 8/10 – I love the blend of hand-drawn anime cut scenes as well as stunning 3D cut-scenes to help tell the story. However, I feel some of the graphics outside of these cutscenes don’t use the PS1 to its fullest capabilities. The textures have a distinctively grainy feel to them – even for a ps1 game, and the battle animations were not as flashy as I had hoped. Overall though, it is a very detailed game with a high variety in both enemy design as well as environments.
Music: 10/10 – This was the first Squaresoft game to use vocal tracks (something that is super common now among their titles) – and it is a freaking FANTASTIC vocal track too: “Small Two of Pieces”. The piano pieces throughout the game are also just simply beautiful. Small Two of Pieces is maybe my favorite single song from videogame history. Of course there are numerous more up-tempo tracks for battles and when the suspense and action of a scene calls for it. But what I really enjoyed were the serene and melodic tracks that made up a majority of the album. The music also stands out from any other game with a distinctive Celtic influence.
Replay Value: 5/10 – This is a super long linear game. It is interesting to replay however, as you go into it with a different perspective and knowledge that you didn’t know on your first play through. There may be things that make more sense now, or new things that you notice in the story now that you have all parts of the puzzle. However the 65+ hour long time and huge number of random battles can make multiple replays a bit of a chore.
Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”
Danganronpa is a game series in which you find yourself captive by a cute but terrifyingly evil teddy bear who wants to play a game with you and the other students. The only way to graduate from his twisted school is to get away with murder. He encourages you and the others to kill each other, and once a dead body is discovered there will be a trial in which you and the other students decide who the murderer was. If you guess correctly, the murderer is punished by the death penalty, if you are incorrect however, it’s you and the other students who will be put to death and the murderer allowed to roam free.
It plays very similar to Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney games. You investigate the crime scene and talk to other NPCs, and object to their claims in the court room while putting together your own case as to who you think the culprit is.
This is the first of 3 games, plus a few side-games. At this time no announcement has been made to port over the remaining games. The 3rd and most recent game has not been released yet and was announced at the Tokyo Game Show in 2015.
I am hoping for them to port the 2nd game as it is a lot more fun because the 2nd game has multiple endings and the first game does not. I still really enjoyed my time in Danganronpa but I feel it could have benefited from a less linear style and multiple endings that depend on your actions.
I got an email today about a kickstarter campaign for a new horror visual novel inspired by Japanese horror films such as Ringu and the Grudge. It’s currently half way to funding with only 5 days left.
It features 6 playable characters, fully animated sprites, and quick time events similar to telltales gaming mechanics.
There’s a playable demo also on the kickstarter page.
There’s a number of trailers and visuals for this game, and it looks great. So if you like anime, visual novels, or horror, please consider donating to this project so that we can all play the finished game when it comes out.
There are numerous bonuses for those who back the project on kickstarter, as well as several awesome stretch goals related to the game as well.
For $13 you will receive a digital copy of the game (only 5 left at this price) and for $50 you can get a physical copy (on a disc).
Manga Gamer sent me another email today to let me know that Higurashi Chapter 2 Watanagashi is now accepting Preorders and that the game will be available on Friday, November 13th, 2015 (although their website says the 14th). It costs $7.95, but if you preorder, you can save about 50 cents off that price (not much of a preorder incentive).
Like the original, the new release will also feature exclusive special artwork for the characters that’s only available in this version of the game. You can also play the game in either Japanese or English.
Higurashi is a murder mystery presented through 14 different chapters. It’s also a Kinetic Novel, which means that unlike most visual novels, there is not a branching plot nor multiple endings, and there’s in fact, absolutely no interaction by the player. It’s just a story. A very good story though. So if you like murder mysteries, you might like it!
Since this is chapter 2, you should play chapter 1 first to better enjoy this game. Check out my review of Higurashi Chapter 1 Onikakushi — right here to see if it may be something that you’d like. You can also see the lovely new sprites MangaGamer has developed for this release (and comparisons to the Japanese ones).
You can learn more, and preorder Chapter 2 Watanagashi on Manga Gamer’s Site (and soon also on Steam) at http://www.mangagamer.com/detail.php?goods_type=1&product_code=154
Genre: Action-RPG with Platformer and Visual Novel Elements
Release Date: July 2011
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
There is a special Love is Over edition that included a pillow case, men’s boxers, a pizza box, tshirt, and some other goodies. I have this version and took some pictures when I got it a few years ago at release.
There’s also special box art for the 360 version, but I don’t have that, it is however, available, as well as the Love is Over edition, via the Amazon links above. The standard edition of the game costs about $12. And for PS3 you can also get the digital version. The limited edition will cost about $95.
Concept 10/10: The concept of Catherine is quite unique. The gameplay is a bit like Qbert in a way while in Vincent’s nightmares. You see, Vince is having bad dreams because he is worried about being caught cheating on his long-time girlfriend, Katherine with a K, with his hot new heartthrob, Catherine with a C. He’s so scared of being caught that every night he sees strange demons trying to eat him in his sleep. He must climb an endless tower, where the screen moves from the bottom up, while avoiding monsters and obstacles, and racing against a clock to make it to the exit of each dream. When not dreaming, Vince meets with the girls and his other friends in a local bar where the gameplay is very similar to a visual novel. You watch numerous cutscenes and choose the “correct” answer to get different endings ultimately within the game. There are numerous endings, including, good, bad, and true endings for each girl, and good, and true endings for Vince being single as well. So it’s a total of 8 different endings. The entire game is cel-shaded, in a way that’s never been done, before or since, at least not in any game that ever found it’s way to this side of the world. It’s so beautiful. It’s like watching an interactive anime. (actually school days may be similar now that I think about it; but Catherine’s art is higher quality.)
I covered a lot of the other aspects of the game which I’m reviewing below here in the concept above, but I feel like all of these elements make Catherine, what it is, and are what make it such a unique and awesome gaming experience and therefore, they’re all part of the “concept” of the game.
Gameplay 10/10: As mentioned above, the gameplay is really two fold. In his waking hours, Vincent interacts with the girls and his friends in visual novel fashion. When Vince returns home and falls asleep, the gameplay switches into a sort of Qbert style, climbing and jumping from blocks, which fall, as the screen moves and you race against the clock, grabbing power ups, and avoiding monsters and obstacles along the way. There’s also a number of interesting minigames and sidequests available back in the bar as well.
There are numerous difficulty settings in the game, including one hidden “Very Easy” mode which you can access by holding down select on the main screen until you hear a ding sound go off. You can then select Easy mode which will now become Very Easy. In this mode, more powerups appear, and the nightmare modes are all the same as easy. You can also climb 3 blocks at a time with special power drinks. This allows you to play the game more like a visual novel, by (practically) skipping all the puzzles in the game. I think this version is great for your second, third, etc playthrough, but kinda kills the fun of the game if this is your first playthrough. Part of the fun of the game is the difficult puzzles which await you in Vincent’s dreams. If you want a challenge, you can also decide to play the game on Nightmare mode. Different achievements are also available for different difficulty levels. But the story is the same regardless, so if you ONLY want to see the different stories/endings and enjoy the game in a relaxing way, feel free to pick an easier difficulty setting.
Graphics: 10/10 The majority of the graphics are all real-time 3d cell shaded anime style. I think there may be some anime cutscenes mixed in too; but the cell shaded 3d models are so good that it’s hard to tell sometimes which ones are 3d and which ones are 2d (if any). The graphics are truly unique and a sight to behold. They are vibrant, colorful, and look like a real anime. I’ve never seen a game with this style before. Check out these screenshots below as you continue to read the review.
Story: 10/10 Vince has a long time girlfriend, Katherine. Katherine wants Vince to get married, but Vince is too immature for such a big commitment. While struggling with both his feelings of love and feelings of fear, Vince meets Catherine, a girl who walks into his life unexpectedly and begins to have a week long affair with her. Tormented by feelings of guilt towards his longtime girlfriend, Katherine, Vincent begins to have nightmares each and every single night in which demons are chasing him. What unfolds next is a deadly love triangle. Can Vincent keep his affair a secret? Can he make the girls happy? And can he keep his own conscious from eating away at him?
Characters: 10/10 One of the really cool things about Catherine’s story is that it does not try to impose a “right” way to play onto you. None of the characters are perfect, not Vince, nor Catherine, nor Katherine. They all have flaws, they’re all equally to blame for any relationship problems within the course of the game; but they all have endearing qualities as well. Vince himself is feeling pressured to marry his long time girlfriend Katherine. Vince doesn’t really want to get married, but he realizes that if he doesn’t marry her, she will break up with him. Katherine is a VERY strong woman, and perhaps more woman than Vince can handle. She is very demanding in the relationship and she isn’t above lying or manipulating Vince to play on his emotions to make him more sympathetic to her and try to rush him into a marriage that he isn’t even sure he wants. Around this same time, Vince suddenly meets Catherine, a girl who only wants a no-strings-attached sexual relationship. She makes Vince feel alive, and young, and free, and all of the qualities that Katherine lacks, Catherine has in spades. However, when it comes to love, and a real lasting relationship, Catherine is too immature; she’s like Vince; she isn’t ready for all of that, and as the game progresses, Vince realizes that Katherine’s stability and commitment to him is something unique and special that Catherine can never offer him. (and for good reason too, but I won’t spoil that). There are basically, 3 routes you can take. Go back and beg Katherine for forgiveness, turn your back on her and continue down the path of sin and lust with Catherine, or tell both girls to go F*** themselves and realize your own dreams and ambitions which is perhaps the best feeling of all. However, the game never makes you feel like one ending or choice is better than the others. They both have pluses and minuses. They aren’t “right or wrong” they’re just different choices. That’s all. I also really like the artwork for the characters, Vince’s hair style is so cute. I want to play with it. It looks fluffy! lol. And both of the girls are ridiculously beautiful. Catherine is so cute, youthful, sexy, flirty, etc; while Katherine exudes maturity, calmness, intelligence, and a sort of refined elegance which is also sexy in it’s own right.
Music: 10/10 The music in this game is composed by Shoji Meguro and is often compared to the soundtracks of Persona 3 and Persona 4. Atlus USA released a version of this soundtrack with their Love is Over limited edition release (pictured above). You can listen to the soundtrack on youtube below:
Or you can pick the soundtrack online on sites like Amazon.com It’s out of print though and as of this writing goes for about $80. Here’s a link where you can check the current prices. http://www.amazon.com/CATHERINE-ORIGINAL-SOUDTRACK-MUSIC-O-S-T/dp/B004GN9AW6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1445396054&sr=8-1&keywords=catherine+ost
This is the full soundtrack which is DIFFERENT from the one that Atlus USA included in their special edition. The soundtrack included in Love is Over, only has 11 songs, which are the levels in Vince’s nightmares. It does not include the cutscene music and other tracks. However, the link above, via Amazon will include all of these awesome tracks for you.
Voice Acting: 7/10 My review is for the English dub voice cast. I thought they were fairly good actually for a dub. There were times where I felt they were overacting a tad. But it wasn’t distracting. Catherine has a cute, peppy sugary sweet voice; while Katherine is more quiet and refined, both of which fit their characters perfectly. Vince has kinda a dopey goofy voice, which I guess fits his character. I haven’t watched the japanese voice actors on youtube. I dunno if they are better, my guess would be yes. lol. It’s not that I hate the english cast though. I find it to be better than the Persona dub (which isn’t horrible either). (It may even have some of the same actors. I don’t follow the English voice acting “scene” so I wouldn’t know.) Their performances are all very convincing. Vince has a goofy scream sometimes, but it’s supposed to convey his fear (of himself/his conscious/his actions) and I think it does convey a lot of stress and emotion.
Replay Value: 10/10 The 7 different endings force you to play multiple times to see the entire story. You can skip cutscenes you’ve seen already, and you can also use the cheat above to get a “Very Easy” gameplay mode to make your multiple replays fast and as pain free as possible so you can just enjoy the story. The endings and the plot are very different, not just small differences, but very unique. This makes it a very rewarding game on multiple playthroughs. If you like achievements there are different ones which are specific to different difficulty settings which you will have to play to unlock them all.
Overall: 86/90 96% A “Excellent Game For Girls”
In fact, the Mature rating, horror, gore, and sexual themes, make it a great game for guys too 🙂 Maybe a good way to introduce your guy friends to anime or visual novels.
MangaGamer just sent out an email that says Higurashi Chapter 2: Watanagashi will be available for preorder “this” month. Since there are only 8 days left in this month, it must be sometime soon. With this exciting news, I thought I should review the first chapter of Higurashi for those who have not played it yet.
Gameplay: 1/10: Higurashi is a kinetic novel. This means that unlike other types of visual novels, there are absolutely no choices which you, the player, makes through the game. Click and read, Click and read, Click and read… One story, one end, one “path” — That’s it. It’s little more, than a story with some pictures and a soundtrack.
Does that mean it’s bad? Not necessarily. People like to read. What people don’t like, is when they buy a GAME and discover only later that it has no “Gameplay”. So I want to preface my review by making it clear what it is, and what it is not. If you’re still cool with a game in which you absolutely, do not, interact, at all, ever, then read on to learn what Higurashi has to offer.
Concept: 10/10 Higurashi is a murder mystery. It spans multiple “episodes” (14 of them to be exact). I’ve read that each episode is about 10 hours long; but I must read slow because I think it took me about 23 hours to complete the first “chapter”. Your mileage may vary. Even with a conservative estimate of 10 hours, to read the entire thing, all 14 chapters, it’d take a minimum of 140 hours. That’s a LOT of bang for your buck.
Unlike most games in this genre – there is no “season pass” – so there’s no good way to save money if you’re wanting all 14 episodes (although I did pick up Chapter 1 in an awesome bundle from indiegala – I’m hooked now though and will not be waiting for a discount or bundle before ordering Chapter 2. I have GOT to see how it all ends – I refuse to watch the anime until I’ve completed all 14 chapters of the game to avoid any spoilers.) Also, Manga Gamer, being a very small company, is doing it’s best to translate the games as quickly as possible, and are releasing them one by one upon completion. Chapter 1 was released in May of this year…. I hope they are able to release chapters more quickly than this… It’s been almost 6 months now since Chapter 1’s release. And Chapter 2 STILL doesn’t have a definite release date, just that they are taking “preorders”. If they continue with 2 chapter releases per year, it will take 7 years to get all of them released. Perhaps this project was too large for Manga Gamer, or perhaps they should have just purchased the translation rights from one of the many fan translations that were already done for this game.
Graphics: 8/10 However, Manga Gamer is also doing a lot of good with this game. It’s one of the first times I’ve ever seen an English release get HUGE improvements and upgrades over the Japanese version!!! We can make Japanese non-english speaking gamers totally jealous with our beautiful new sprites. When I first saw this feature, I had assumed that Manga Gamer was giving us the option of using the original (horrible) sprites from the PC Japanese version (which they are keeping as an option in Manga Gamer’s release too) OR I THOUGHT that they were giving us the option to select the much improved Playstation sprites from the Japanese version — BUT that is NOT the case!! Manga Gamer Went ALL OUT and developed BRAND NEW artwork for the English release. Sadly, they left the original Japanese PC version background art… The playstation Japanese version has REALLY nice background art — BUT their character sprites are no where near as nice as the ones Manga Gamer contracted for this release. Having these HIGHLY improved sprites makes me feel really special. For ONCE we get something in a port that is a HUGE big deal, and huge upgrade over what Japan has. That makes me feel like Manga Gamer really appreciates their customers and wants to do their best with this project.
See the sprites here below. Look at the level of detail in shading and better proportions. This makes the sprites much cuter than either of the Japanese versions. P.S. Click To Enlarge :).
Translation Quality: 10/10 In fact, also from a writing standpoint, the translation was very good. I can’t recall really almost ANY typos (though I’m sure there must have been a few) Compared to my most recently completed play through a similar style game (Amnesia Memories which is FULL of typos and inconsistencies) the translation of Manga Gamer’s version of Higurashi is REALLY high — I appreciate that, because it helps to immerse in the story
Music: 10/10 Sound wise, the music and especially the sound effects and atmospheric sounds REALLY stand out and add to the mystery and horror aspects of this game. Actually, I read before that Higurashi is what they call a Sound Novel instead of a Visual Novel, Higurashi relies on the soundtrack more than its artwork (especially when you look at the really amateur artwork from the original PC version).However, both the original PC version and the Manga Gamer release do not have any voice acting at all. The Playstation version had full voice acting and if you’re feeling brave, there are tutorials online to patch your game to have voice acting – Would have been nice if Manga Gamer either could have bought the rights to that version’s soundtrack and incorporated it, or cast an English dub cast for the game — I don’t particularly like English dubs, but It would have been another concession on Manga Gamer’s part towards pleasing their fans.
Story: 8/10 I don’t want to ruin anything for people who have not yet played Chapter One Onikakushi – but this game is very very very slowwww starting out — BUT… it rewards you if you put up with all of that by starting to REALLY pick up more horror/suspense/mystery themes towards the last 4-5 hours of the game. PRIOR to that, it’s very very light-hearted, slice of life, fluffy, happy…. When shit starts to go down though, that dark contrast against the MAJORITY of the first chapter being so innocent and pure, really stands out, and it is that contrast that becomes the real “heart and soul” of the first chapter.
Higurashi also leaves you to draw your own conclusions about wtf is going on – and I don’t know if it ever really explains things fully or if it leaves it up to you a la similar murder mysteries such as gone girl which end with an open ending. Since I’ve only played the first chapter I can’t be sure. Is it the occult? Is the town cursed? Do they hate outsiders? Is it all a coincidence? Is everyone just crazy? lol.
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Characters: 8/10 The characters are all highly likeable which makes it even more alarming that one (or more) of them could be capable of murder – especially on such a high brutality scale, in such a way, that they enjoy murder, enjoy watching their victims suffer – pretty creepy when these are just CHILDREN. But well, creepy children are a staple of horror films too; such as exorcist, ringu, grudge, children of the corn, etc. Children are kinda creepy with their small frame and large eyes and sometimes strange movements or gestures etc which I guess is why there are so many horror movies and books which focus on the whole creepy kid thing. But children are also pure, innocent, adorable, etc. And Higurashi does a perfect job of showing that, despite being murderers, the children are otherwise, perfectly normal little kids, who like to play tag, hide and seek, and go to school.
For awhile, it looks like there will be some romance options (well not that you the player have any choice anyways), but then the game decides to take a VERY different approach. If you don’t dig visual novels because they’re all sappy happy slice of life romance anime etc — Well you might just like Higurashi… BUT keep in mind what I said, the MAJORITY of the first chapter IS VERY MUCH like most any other novel, light, happy, innocent, slice of life, boring, slow, REAL slow in fact. — But it REALLY takes a dramatic turn that makes it unlike pretty much any other english visual novel on the market today. — And I hear the following chapters are even more bizarre and darker and that the first was merely a prologue/introduction. So fasten your seatbelts – you’re in for quite a ride.
The emotional impact of Higurashi was high, not only a sense of sadness, but perhaps more over, a feeling of isolation and desperation, a feeling of fear. It really gets creepy. It presents more questions than it solves and makes you the player think and reflect back on the story.
Overall: 55/70 79% C+ “Good Game For Girls”
Note: if you don’t count the lack of gameplay against the game, it then becomes 54/60 or a 90% 🙂 So if you don’t mind the Kinetic Novel genre, this is probably one of the best, if not the, best, kinetic novels to play. – I personally don’t like Kinetic Novels, but I am hooked on Higurashi!