PAX West 2016 Impressions: NightCry
From the creator of the Clock Tower game series, director Hifumi Kono and the director of the Ju-on (The Grudge) Takashi Shimizu comes Project Scissors: NightCry from Japanese video game developers, Nude Maker and Playism. This year at PAX West, I got to play a quick demo of this game. The game plays like Resident Evil, but has the feel of a Japanese horror movie that will have you by the edge of your seat.
Without giving away too much details, Nightcry alternates between two modes, ‘search/discover mode’ and ‘escape mode’as the player progresses through the story. In the first mode the Scissorwalker, the main antagonist of the game, is nowhere to be found and is known to be stalking the grounds. The main objective of the game is to solve a murder mystery while avoiding the Scissorwalker. The main protagonist will take this time to explore and uncover the truth, and this is where the game mode will change. If the Scissorwalker appears, the game turns into the ‘escape mode’, where surrounding area will now contain traps or tools that will help with escape or stealth. If successful, the game will change back into ‘search mode’ again. This reminds me of Metal Gear Solid where stealth is key, but the main objective is to uncover secrets.
As with most survival horror games, there are no weapons and the protagonist does not have a lot of defense power. In Nightcry, the protagonist has a smartphone that also doubles as a flashlight. The phone can be used to call friends or check their ‘snapnpost’ (the in-game social media platform) for helpful hints and clues. The flashlight is a helpful tool as only certain actions can only be detected with it on.
In terms of the story, the game plays like a visual novel where the story can branch off into different endings, making it quite replayable. It was a bit disappointing to find out that there are several decisions early in the game that once decided, will ultimately determine the route. Since many different elements can trigger a route and those elements range from talking to other characters, entering certain rooms, interacting with items, to picking areas to hide from Scissorwalker, this can be hard to decipher where you went wrong, and limits your ability to alter the ending.
Visually, the monster design is amazing and the cutscenes where the Scissorwalker appears seem to be straight out of a movie with the lighting and camera angles. The game environment has that dim lighting feel that most J-horror films have and add to the feeling of terror. Unfortunately, the game is not full voice acted so some scenes will simply have to be read through.
Despite the game being on PC, movement is point-and-click with the mouse instead WASD. This was something that I found problematic for me. I felt that the mouse clicking had limitations in terms of exploring, escaping, and just the overall mood of the game. When exploring a room, there are times when the character does not react for several seconds so I had to click multiple times causing the character to dart back and forth. The camera angle too, due to the multiple clicks would suddenly change and I would enter a different area instead. When escaping, the character would also stop at the last point that I clicked on, creating a bit of a delay when trying to escape from the Scissorwalker.
The concept of a Resident Evil game with visual novel elements is great but I felt a bit overwhelmed with the number of possible endings. Overall, the game felt a bit rushed and I feel like there is room for improvement. The monster design along with the overall atmosphere is stunning and made my heart race as I tried to escape. I felt the choice of control option that they chose for this game was limiting and it hindered my progress and immersion. I can see the game being more fluid if a controller option was available. If you are a player who wants the nostalgia feel and are a fan of the Clock Tower series along with Japanese horror films then definitely check this game out