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Spooky letter ingredients: quill, paper with coffee rings ...

  • Caz
  • 11/10/2013 03:23 PM
This was a pretty cutesy game from the get-go, about two young girls who I assume were meant to be exorcists sent to a house to banish some eeeevviiilll spiiiriiiiittssss~! I'm not sure it was intentionally cute though, as there were a few dark bits here and there and it started out with quite a creepy old film roll. In fact the game had quite a few flashback cutscenes where an oldey filter was placed over some footage which was played to the viewer. I thought it was pretty cool anyhow, and I think it could be taken further for some pretty awesome stuff.

The graphics were otherwise all RTP, apart from the main characters who I think were from one of the DS packs. They didn't mesh very well with the other sprites in the game so it was a little strange to look at now and then. Other than that, the mapping was alright – nothing to sing and dance about, but it was acceptable. Sometimes the house got a bit confusing because there were so many hallways and doors leading to different rooms. I'd been playing for about twenty minutes and gotten lost before I noticed some of the rooms were even there. There were also some directional glitches with event graphics which would change/turn when you spoke.

Well now I know there's a passage behind this cabinet at least..

There were also a few notes and articles in the game which you could pick up and read, and then read them from your inventory later on. This was a nice touch, but sometimes the choice window to keep reading the note got in the way of some of the text. To fix this, ideally you should erase the picture when a key is pressed by using a conditional branch – it'll defeat the need for a choice window and be much easier for the player. On that topic, when replaying some of the movie cutscenes I couldn't end the movie by pressing any buttons so accidentally using one in my inventory was a giant pain in the ass.

When will spirits learn: if you're gonna write a spooky letter, don't spill your coffee on it!

I think the same song was used throughout this whole game, and I'll be the first to admit it started to a get little bit maddening after half an hour. Well okay I'm lying, there was another song for cutscenes and the title had its own song too, but this one track was used A LOT throughout the whole thing and that naturally got very repetitive very fast. It felt like it was the only song, and it's the only sound I really took away from the experience. It replaced what should have been a well-built, creepy atmosphere with an overriding feeling of nausea by the end. I don't believe any of the sound effects had been replaced either, and everything was a bog-standard use of RTP. A lot of ambience seemed to rely solely on the lighting effects, and it made things feel rather one-dimensional.

The story is one the player pieces together by reading notes and talking to spirits. It's a simple murder story, and it could've been conveyed in interesting ways if the characters had been fleshed out a little better, but as it stands it felt more like an interactive newspaper than an engaging tale. I saw potential but sadly it fell short in its deliverance.

To go on, the main characters were Carla and Dorothy who, as I said, were two young exorcists. Their personalities did seem to merge into one at times, I couldn't feel for either of them because they were so cardboard and I just couldn't connect. Maybe if I could see their own motives or feelings, they would've felt like solid characters with purpose and intent. It is rather unfortunate that such characteristics never came to life because as with the story, this had huge potential also. Some of the characters in the cutscenes even seemed like they had more to them than the MCs, as if the only chance of having a personality in this game is if you're some crazed murderer.

But anyway, let's talk about the game itself: as I mentioned it mainly seemed like I was getting lost trying to find keys/notes/spirits in one giant mansion, but on the way I would also come across dust and weird stuff that my main character would pick up and say “oh yes that, this is a perfectly normal thing to put away in my pockets” as she harvested insects from the garden and cheerfully carried about 48 flies around with her the whole time. This was great and all, I loved finding nice items to power myself up with.. but there wasn't any purpose for the items until the very end of the game where you fight the one fight in the whole thing. It almost seemed like overkill after all the items I had collected, and the enemy didn't even lay a scratch on me. It wasn't the most thrilling battle, but I suppose it was better than the button mash it could have been – I mean I did get skills to choose from, not that I thought they made particularly much difference to the outcome of the fight.

Let's do the thingy:

Visuals: 5/10
Sounds: 2/10
Story: 4/10
Characters: 2/10
Gameplay: 2/10
Theme: I couldn't find the theme stated on this one either. I think maybe Ghost Stories? I guess it does fit that theme pretty well, but there's still something that doesn't quite fit in. 8/10

Overall Score: 4/10

I hear things about sheep.. but I don't see sheep..!