Suspense horror, whether in movies or games, is extremely difficult to deliver. However, having recently seen Paranormal Activity in theaters, Ju-On: The Grudge served to be my blind hope to keep the chills coming.
With just a flashlight in hand, the game, based loosely around the Japanese horror films, sets out to provide an extremely unique experience. With a dark and ominous feel at all times, it is truly about the spooky and bone chilling sensations, as you move through various environments. But does this game make your hair stand on end and deliver the unique gameplay it promises?
Usually this is where I would say, “Hit the jump to find out.” Not this time though. To give it to you straight, this game is bad. Really bad.
Ju-On: The Grudge places you in various environments and situations, including a warehouse, a haunted hospital, abandoned apartments, a school, and the house from The Grudge movies. Using just your flashlight, it is your job to explore these environments while completing meaningless “objectives,” such as finding your dog that ran into the warehouse.
The Wii-mote will serve as both your flashlight and the movement of your character. With that in mind, most would think the combination of the Wii’s acceptably responsive control scheme, as well as the simplicity of using just a Wii-mote, would not prove to be frustrating in the slightest. And, unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Way too often will you find yourself having to cater to the controls, as moving your flashlight around will require you to be overly methodical and slow. While this was most likely implemented to increase the feeling of suspense, it took away from the game and brought more frustration than fear.
But suspense horror, as previously mentioned, is not easy to deliver. However, forcing a player to fight over controls to aid the overly predictable “scares” in this game is extremely unfair to the player. And to top it off, you are forced to walk outrageously slow. And when I say slow, I mean SLOW.
The first environment, a warehouse, will introduce you to exactly what the rest of the game will entail. Move around at a snail-like pace, find a shiny object, be it a key for a locked door or battery to increase your flashlight’s life, and move on to the next room.
The extremely linear gameplay proves to be far too simplistic and easy. The only “challenge” will lie in traversing the environment without running out of batteries, as this will end the game. But the amount of batteries that can be found in each environment tend to remove this element of gameplay.
Outside of your flashlight dying, the only other way for the game to end is by failing the Wii-mote movements required to shake off the spooky chick from the movies. And should you run out of batteries or fail the Wii-mote movements, get ready to start the level all over again. Trust me, nothing proves to be more frustrating than slowly walking your way through a majority of the environment to only start all over again because you didn’t flick your Wii-mote to the right fast enough.
Should you feel inclined to play with a friend, player two is given some unique control over player one’s experience. Various scary events are mapped to player two’s controller. With these events, player two can set out to scare player one whenever they see fit. Albeit a unique element, it is something that gets extremely old very quickly, for both players.
With PS2 quality graphics and the occasional low quality sound effect to “set the mood,” it is no wonder that the Wii fails to impress the mature crowd. And although this isn’t as bad as some of the shovelware available on the Wii, it is in fact, yet another good idea with an extremely poor delivery.
And to continue the disappointment, the game only provides roughly two hours of gameplay. After playing it once, I can guarantee you it will collect more dust than your Wii itself.
While I love the Wii and the unique titles it provides, a game like Ju-On: The Grudge proves, outright, that the Wii needs a bigger push for digital downloads. This is a game that was most likely forced into a low budget, due to past profits or lack thereof, for mature Wii titles.
But I digress, Ju-On: The Grudge is what it is. A game with poor graphics, poor controls, linear gameplay, and predictable chills and thrills. Thus, with a hefty 30 dollar price tag, it is next to impossible for me to recommend this game to anyone.
Poor graphics degrade the quality of the "spooky" environments.
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Linear gameplay and frustratingly slow walking proves to be enough to scare any gamer away. Altough it is a unique idea, the execution is very poor.
The game has low quality sound effects, most of which are predictable when entering a room.
It's roughly two hours of gameplay and zero replayability.
Ju-On: The Grudge ends up being more frustrating than scary, as terrible controls and gameplay force the player to adhere to elements of gameplay that fall very short of what can even remotely be considered fun and/or frightening.