Saturday, June 7, 2008


...Iru! (・・・いる!, lit. "...Coming!")
System: PlayStation
Publisher: Takara
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 3/26/98

Consider the situation: you and an apparent friend are working on a stand of some sort for an upcoming school festival. You spend so much time on this task that, by the time you are 'done', it has become late; the windows reveal that darkness has fallen upon your [Japanese hamlet of choice]. You decide to leave, but find that the ways out have been blocked. The teenage drama than begins to build around you; the students that aren't actively looking for a way out seem to have a tendency to either shy away from you or slug you in the face.

Then, the lights go out, mysterious noises can be heard in the distance, and the corpses begin to appear. It sounds suspiciously like a teenage horror flick, and one wouldn't be far off with that assumption. Such a clichéd premise would be more than made up for with a strong game play system, but this also seems to be lacking; the first hour of game play roughly boils down to running back and forth between two near-identical hallways and talking to different characters in a vain attempt to make the plot progress forward. More likely than not, one would be able to advance events forward by way of simply talking to the right people in the correct order, but there is no apparent indication as to who the 'right' people are. Hence, lots of trial and error.

Since this is an exercise in horror, we as the player do receive a horrific element to contend with: horrific creatures of all sorts appear, apparently summoned by way of some sort of magical experiment, and can very easily kill the player... if only they weren't so easily thwarted. Despite the noises you may hear and the music that is playing, there are very specific points at which these enemies appear, and you are given plenty of forewarning on each occasion. One early example involves a being pursuing you following a rather grisly scene. Your character, in a rush, enters the nearest door, and you see a graphical indicator at the top of the screen, displaying how close your pursuer is drawing.

There is only one place to hide in this room, and that is a box. You approach it yourself, sure enough, but the game takes over from there; the character hides, and though the pursuer enters the room, your singular hiding place is apparently enough to throw them off their tracks. Echo Night allowed some of the ghosts to chase you around within a limited area. The Clock Tower games featured randomly appearing enemies. To say nothing of Hellnight, in which the creature was constantly on the prowl. An implementation of any one of these would have easily improved the enemy system that is set in place with this game.

The atmosphere established by the game, however, is fairly effective; the hallways, whether lit or dark, stretch on in such a sense that it is difficult to see what lies ahead. This, combined with the effectively threatening tone of the music, successfully makes one feel as if they are entering what would seem to be a dangerous environment. The polygonal graphics, now horribly outdated, seem to work in the game's favor; they add their own sort of surreal charm to the experience.

You may have noted my sporadic use of such terms as 'apparently' above; this is in reference to the fact that this is a Japanese game, a language I have no knowledge of. This said, I was ultimately only able to progress so far into the game before being forced to stop; I eventually reached a point where I was unable to progress at all. A monster blocks my only way out, but none of the items I have picked up thus far seem to have any effect on it. It doesn't much help that the often excessive amount of dialogue is also in Japanese; a player without relevant language knowledge will spend a fair amount of time button mashing their way through this text.

So I really can't assign any sort of arbitrary number rating to this game... I was unable to finish it, and it would be somewhat unfair to try to rank it without giving it a more extensive effort. Should I somehow finish this title, I will elaborate further on this game and give a more formal ranking.


Danny said...

that's... interesting, kinda reminds me of D, ive gotta learn japanese to play these obscure horror games.

Secret Plot said...

Hey cool, I picked this up about 8 years ago in a game store for £1, thought i was the only English-speaker who had it.

But yeah, it's a weird game. I recently picked it up again and had a mess around. From what you said in your blog, I think we're probably stuck at the same place. 2nd Floor Hallway?

TheScissorman said...

You just need to open the box with the crowbar, then give it to the monster who is blocking the stairs ;)