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I stumbled into this game kinda by accident and was instantly curious. The Adventure Player is a "game" for the psp From Software released that is basically a VN maker program where everyone can design their own games and then post them online. Kaikiken, which seems to translate to The Haunted Zone is one of the three games Fromsoft included with the Adventure Player to show what it could do and inspire users. Unfortunately I don't think this game is particularly interesting. It is a collection of 3 really short ghost stories, and none of them were remarkable. The vibes were actually not bad since the accompanying soundtrack and sound effects were effective in making me feel tense and the backgrounds are decently spooky, but each story ended so fast there was barely any time to feel scared or disturbed. Each of the 3 stories has 2 different endings based on a single choice you get on each of the stories near the end, and the changes are minimal. The stories themselves are pretty cliché stuff, if you've seen The Grudge or even had a semblance of the story drunkenly explained to you by a passing hobo you can pretty easily guess what its gonna happen here.
This review contains spoilers
I found this game actually spellbinding. For a couple of days I did almost nothing but play it and talk about it with some friends who were also playing it at the time. Having now beaten it almost a month ago but not adding it here cause I'm a lazy cunt, I can say I still quite like it. The central mystery is really compelling, and seeing all the characters interact and slowly open themselves up to Junpei was really fun, and theorizing with friends added a lot to the experience. The puzzles are probably the weakest part of the experience. They were not awful, but I found the vast majority really easy and kinda forgettable. The very few ones that actually made me think always told me the fucking answer when I didn't want it and ruined the few moments where I felt clever. I do enjoy the whole digital root idea, it almost allows you to predict a twist or two and what characters you'll be with next, and the game gives you a handy calculator to help with that. My favorite part of the game, however, is the true ending. To get it, you need to play the game at the absolute least twice, as you must get a separate ending that unlocks it. I stumbled unto this one by accident, and after another run where I got a bad ending, I finally did the true ending route on my third run through the game. This route is quite beefy and where you see a lot of ideas talked about in other routes finally pay off in a satisfying enough fashion. I found the final twist pretty clever if a bit spoiled by how much the characters talk about morphic fields before it happens. However, the way this twist was presented was the sickest shit ever and one of the coolest uses of the DS and its double screens I've ever seen. It was probably the first time I've seen them used to enhance the narrative and not just the gameplay. I really don't see it hitting as good in any other platform, even if those versions can be considered superior otherwise.
Incredibly charming bite sized rpg slice of life card battler type thing that I enjoyed a lot. After Liberation Maiden I'd say this is the second most well known game of the Guild series. The small town summer vacation vibe really hits right from the start with the well done small town sound effects and the hand painted backgrounds which are a joy to look at, and that very relaxed atmosphere is there the whole game, which is short enough I was left wanting a bit more even if the gameplay is nothing to write home about. You pretty much just run around town looking for people to talk to and collecting little shiny things off the ground called glims. Once you have enough you can make a card, and once you have 5 cards you can fight the other kids in a minigame that is essentially overcomplicated rock paper scissors. There is actually a bit of strategy especially once you start unlocking some of the more interesting cards, like ones wtih two different symbols on it or that show you more of the opponent's hand, but a lot of the time its just rng.The game is structured in kinda non linear episodes, which are disparate storylines around the little town that you keep advancing by talking to people. There is only one ending though, and while the story is very simple it has an appealing element of magical realism. The titular friday monsters show up to beat the shit out of each other and no one is completely sure if they're real or not. A lot of what's happening can conceivably be just Sohta having a very active imagination, but the game never outright denies any of it. There is a tiny, tiny amount of postgame stuff once you finish the main story that exists in the form of a horrible web of talking to the right people in the right order to get different topics of conversation with which to talk to other people and get even more topics. It's almost completely pointless and I wasted like 3 hours of my life on it when there is no reward for doing any of it because I wanted to finish the last episode I was missing by getting every single card. I was only missing 1 glim to complete the last card I was missing, and it turned out to just be in a random part of town I hadn't explored properly. It was all a massive pain in the ass but besides that I think my experience with this game was fairly positive despite its simplicity.