PARANORMASIGHT: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo Review – A Tale of Resurrection and Sacrifice
Square Enix is not known for producing many visual novels. While they have dabbled in the genre, it is not something that most fans associate with the company. However, PARANORMASIGHT: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo was a surprise announcement and a sneaky launch from Square Enix. It is only available for PC and Nintendo Switch, but for those who are fans of this genre, it is worth pursuing because it is an excellent game overall.
PARANORMASIGHT: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo is an expertly crafted game that deals with Japanese mythology and lore in an interesting way. The game is centered around the seven mysteries of Honjo and is set in the late 20th century in Sumida Ward of Tokyo, Japan. The developers of the game collaborated with the Sumida City Tourism Division to take 360-degree photos of various landscapes, which are then used in the game as backgrounds.
As a big fan of the visual novel genre, the idea of the game sounded interesting to me. The game revolves around local myths and legends that have evolved. It presents this by mixing historical myths with fiction to create a story that is not only compelling but also keeps our attention for a long time. The opening chapter, which sets the groundwork for the rest of the game, is not that long and focuses on a single character, Shogo Okii. While discussing the chapter in detail would be considered a spoiler, the basic premise of the story is that there are people who are cursed and are trying to use their curse as a source of power. This requires them to find other people who are cursed and sacrifice them for their own needs.
Coming to the story itself, the first chapter introduces us to Shogo Okii and his friend Yoko Fukunaga, who invites him to meet in the middle of the night in a local park that is also a famous site for a myth and ghost story. As expected, things soon go awry, and Shogo is faced with a tough decision to make. The game is full of such choices, and the player has to figure out all options before they can progress to the next point. I think this encourages us to explore and examine each option, but it can also lead to frustration when the player has no clue about where to go next.
I won’t delve into spoilers here, but Shogo is not the sole character in the plot. Other individuals are gradually introduced throughout the narrative. I appreciated how the game presented some genuinely fourth-wall-breaking moments. If I had to compare its storytelling approach to something that has recently launched, it reminded me of how the curator in The Dark Pictures conveys a tale before dispatching the player through the events that occur, and Paranormasight also has a “storyteller” that fulfills the same function. If we lead to an unfortunate outcome, such as a game over screen, then the storyteller assists us in going back and attempting the sequence of events correctly to advance through the game.
One of the frustrations that I did face with the game was its user interface. At least on the Nintendo Switch, when playing with a controller, the cursor position feels rather clunky. While it can be moved with the analog stick, pressing a button makes it move to the next dialogue choice or option, which can be a bit frustrating. It is also not as intuitive to play the game this way. Aside from that, I enjoyed how the game encouraged us to read every little piece of lore through its text files and data points. This is important information that is only gathered by looking through the data files, and they also delve deeper into the local myths, or as they say, the seven mysteries of the Honjo. It was fascinating to read them and see their story told through the events in the game.
While it is labeled as a horror game, I didn’t find it scary. There are occasional jump scares during certain events in the game, but they never feel scary enough for me to fear for my life. Maybe it is the visual novel aspect of the game that makes it less frightening, but I have to give credit to the fascinating art style. It makes the game world feel alive, and I don’t think I have seen this 360-degree style in many games. On the other hand, I feel like the overuse of film grain and chromatic aberration makes the visuals feel a little dated, but this was perhaps the intended effect by the developers.
So, is this a good game? I would say that for the asking price, it is worth every dollar that you spend on it. If you enjoy visual novels that offer a tinge of mystery or suspense like Danganronpa or Zero Escape, this game is right for you. While there are hardly any major puzzles to solve here, the story is quite interesting, with some fascinating lore to back it up and a nice cast of characters. Overall, it is a game that should easily take you more than 10 hours, and with the launch price discounted, it is a no-brainer to pick it up.
PARANORMASIGHT: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo is an excellent visual novel game that blends Japanese mythology and fiction to create a compelling story that keeps players engaged. The game’s 360-degree background photos, fascinating lore, and memorable cast of characters make it a worthwhile experience for fans of the genre. Although the game’s user interface can be clunky at times, and it may not be as scary as labeled, its unique art style and storytelling make it a game worth pursuing. Overall, it is a game that is worth the price, especially for those who enjoy mystery and suspense-based visual novels.
PARANORMASIGHT: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo Game Information
- Price: $19.99
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Square Enix
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher