Last week XSeed hosted a great little event at a sushi restaurant in NYC, which not only meant that we got hands-on time with games but also great food and drinks to go along with it. Some games must suffer from the environment though, right? For example- Ju-on: The Grudge for the Wii. How the hell could you be immersed in a horror game when there’s music, drinking and eating going on all around you?

Yet people still got scared and jumped playing the game, having fun as they navigated shadowy environments with that creepy long-haired girl and cat-voiced boy haunting your every move.

First things first- this is not a AAA title. It’s not going to have a lot of replay value, the game doesn’t seem too polished, and the environments we were shown were fairly repetitive. But this is going to be a budget title (most likely $20) that’s not purporting to be all that. It’s dubbing itself the “Wii’s first Haunted House Simulator” and that’s probably the best description of it you’re likely to find.

The controls are kept very simple. The Wii remote is your flashlight, and you swing it around to check around the environment. Batteries are your life bar, and you’ll have to keep finding spare ones to keep going. Let your flashlight die, and you die. Simple as that. You hold down the B button to move forward, the down button on the d-pad to move back. The A button is used to interact with the environment. You’ll find keys around the place to open locked doors, and keep on pushing forward to your inevitable doom. Occasionally you’ll be attacked by that damn female ghost with throat problems and have to swing the remote around in different directions to shake it off. And that’s pretty much it! There’s no nunchuck compatibility, they wanted to make it feel like you were holding a flashlight and it works fairly well, even if the controls mean that you sometimes get hung up on corners.  

The level we demoed was set in a hospital, which included dozens of similar rooms (too many…) as well as plenty of great places for scares. The sound is designed to keep you guessing on where the next loud noise and freaky vision is coming from, but of course we couldn’t hear it too well due to the location.

The story is completely original but of course since it’s based on Ju-on that means absolutely nothing. Every one has been almost the same thing, after all. There are five chapters in total that will only take you a few hours to get through, but then again there’s only so many scares a person can probably take before it gets stale. But there’s some humor included as well! Before you start the game you can choose male or female characters as well as your zodiac sign, which doesn’t affect gameplay at all. It will, however, affect the messages displayed to gamers if they fail a level, or don’t expore it too thoughrougly. We all laughed as it called one gamer a “total wuss” and told them that they should be writing poetry instead of playing a scary game.
There’s no co-op or anything, but another player can get involved in an amusing way. Grab another controller and you become the one who sets the scares. Simply pressing a button on the controller will make a jump scare immediately occur on the screen to spook your friend, whether it’s that creepy black-eyed kid grabbing your hand or just a fake scare like a cat jumping out of a closet. It’s a great way to change up the scripted scares and will doubtless be used dozens of times if friends come over your house for Halloween. I know I can’t wait to turn off the lights, crank the sound and hand the controller over to a soon-to-be former friend.

From my playtime I don’t believe the game will shatter anyone’s expectations or even be considered a great horror game but for a budget title that sets out to do one thing- scare you- it does it very well. Expect Ju-on: The Grudge to hit stores in October.