Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Game Review: Ju-On The Grudge

Whenever I think of the Grudge series I always remember one particular scene-towards the end of the second movie, the ghost, Kayako, actually appears in front of one of the victims in her actual human, non-ghostly form, and sort of peers at her, in a sort of 'what have I done' kind of way. I really love that scene because it showed some sort of humanity in the main antagonist who is otherwise killing people for absolutely no reason.

But don't worry. You won't see any of that in the next movie, or in this game. Today I'm reviewing Ju-On, a game where Kayako and Toshibo try and slaughter you for absolutely no reason, and they dick around with you first because they're also bored. I have played almost every single horror game out there, and this is both the best and the worst game I have ever played.

Ju-On advertises itself as a haunted house simulator. And by that I mean it means you play in a warehouse, a hospital, a factory, and an apartment building. Actually hang on...let me get my red crayon....

You can only play in a house if you collect secret items during the game, a fact it forgets to tell you. In fact, this game forgets to tell you about a lot of things. Like what the plot is. Or who the characters are. From what I can guess, this game takes place sometime before the first movie, and that's only because the house itself doesn't look burned down yet. A family moves in, and shortly afterwards Kayako tries to kill them. That's about as much plot and character development you're going to get.

This is the one and only good point of the game-it's very scary. It was so scary that I didn't want to play it again after five minutes. During the first level, everything is thrown at you-bloody handprints, boxes falling over, Toshibo's haunting pale face, and Kayako's long brown hair covering the exit as she reaches for you...Regrettably, this game really throws everything at you during the first level, and after that the levels seem a little milder. That being said, there are still a couple of scenes that are still cringe-worthy. To make things more interesting, the wii controller actually measures how often you tremble and develops a 'sissy meter' to judge how terrified you are. Unfortunately this meter is also completely bogus, and I will explain why shortly (and no, I'm not a sissy. The meter's broken I tell you!)

Unfortunately, this game fails in virtually everything else. Your only goal is to proceed through the level with only a flashlight. If you don't find enough batteries for your flashlight, Kayako comes out of the shadows and kills you. Okay, this idea doesn't work for so many reasons. First of all, despite what this game may think ghosts are not vampires. They exist both during the day and the night. It is only our visual perception of ghosts that changes -ie, they are more easier to see at night. No ghost is going to get scared away by a wimpy flashlight.

Secondly, we have seen Kayako easily kill people in the movie, and it didn't matter to her whether the lights are on or off. Forgetting all of that, your flashlight still runs out of power on a constant basis, and the player needs to replace the batteries. So, what, did Kayako not attack during that brief minute the flashlight was off because she didn't think it was sporting?

The wii controller in this game is a dark and cruel mistress, working only when she feels like it. You might spend half the game spinning in a circle, or spending a lot of time admiring either the ceiling or the floor. I had to replay a level no less than seven times because the wii couldn't sense my movements during a cutscene. This also renders the interesting 'sissy meter' useless, because it often mistakes my desperate flailing motions as someone scared instead of attempting to get the game to work for one minutes.

FINAL GRADE: 1 ½ out of 5. For what it's worth, this game is genuinely scary. But it's easily a renter.

You know, I really love animals, but if my dog runs into an abadoned factory and I start seeing pale dead faces and bloody handprints, it's every man for himself at that point.


Nicole said...

Yeah, I second that bit about the dog. Besides, aren't animals supposed to sense this sort of thing and run away before the people ever do? Forget it. If the dog is dumb enough to go in there in the first place, I'm sure as crap not going in after it.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame this game is disappointing because it sounds right up my alley. Wii game so scary it leaves you quaking in your boots? Woo-hoo! Bring it on! (speaking as someone who finds Resident Evil 4 a bit tame these days...)

I guess we can but hope there'll be a sequel that will meet its potential!