It was just six months ago that we got Spirit Hunter: Death Mark on PC, a horror visual novel that seemed to go under the radar for most. It certainly did for me, as I had pretty much forgotten about it until I saw Spirit Hunter: NG pop up on Steam. Given that, I decided to give NG a go to see what the series was all about. Although it is technically the second game in the series, the stories occur independently of one another, yet take place in the same universe.
Right off the bat, NG sets itself apart from the crowd with its unique art style. It goes for a more realistic look than what we usually see in the medium, yet still maintains that familiar anime aesthetic. It kinda reminded me of The House in Fata Morgana in that sense. For a horror VN, this works in its favor, as it allows for some pretty creepy art, including everything from bleak backgrounds to blood-covered spirits. Although I didn’t like the designs of some characters, I did like the overall tone set by the game’s art style.
As for the story itself, it’s pretty good for a horror game. The pacing is incredibly quick compared to similar visual novels, but it doesn’t develop in an awkward way. It’s one of those visual novels that tries to grab your attention right at the start and doesn’t let up from there, constantly introducing new story developments to keep the pacing high. This style of writing does sacrifice a bit of character development, but then again, this isn’t exactly the type of VN that banks on its characters.
The gameplay segments are where problems start appearing. These segments play like a watered-down version of Danganronpa‘s gameplay, with the player searching environments for clues and moving to and from different areas. This type of gameplay is usually fine, but it’s made a bit cumbersome here in NG due to just how awful the controls feel. Using the keyboard and mouse to explore areas, look for clues, and even navigate the game’s menus just does not feel intuitive at all, so much so that these segments sometimes felt more like an annoyance than anything. The game is listed as offering partial controller support, but playing a VN with a controller just doesn’t sound appealing.
Building on that, the game is also heavily lacking in the settings department. There are no text settings, so you’re unable to change text size and speed like other VNs. There’s also no auto-mode speed setting, no skip-mode setting, and really just none of the settings you would expect in your traditional VN release. It’s a console-first visual novel and, unfortunately, it really shows here.
Regardless, the meat of the game is enjoyable enough to warrant a recommendation. It’s pretty good for a horror visual novel, even if it may not be the best in the genre. I would describe it as Danganronpa meets Corpse Party, so if that sounds up your alley, then give it a shot.
You can buy Spirit Hunter: NG on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of this game. Read more about how I do my game reviews/impressions here.