Two years ago, our Celebrating All Things Spooky celebration concluded with a look at Death Mark, the first entry in the Spirit Hunter series.
Today, it’s finally time to talk about the sequel, Spirit Hunter: NG.
NG largely stands on its own. It occasionally references Death Mark, but you’d be just fine playing it first.
Like its predecessor, it blends visual novel and adventure game elements. Death Mark had a strangely Ace Attorney-esque feeling to it for me, but NG does not. While it’s still split into chapters focusing on investigations into different spirits, it felt more to me like one continuous story.
Part of this comes from how partners are handled. Instead of always introducing new characters with each case, your partner characters feel more like they’re part of the overarching story. You’re able to switch which partner you’re investigating with and often need to do so in order to proceed. The game even alerts you if you’ve reached a dead end with your current partner.
The only thing I disliked about this is that the dialogue doesn’t change if the current partner has been with you for the whole investigation or if you switched; they’ll talk as if they were there the whole time. Since you can switch fairly freely, though, trying to account for every situation would probably be too complicated.
Confrontations with the spirits have also changed. Instead of using items in a battle with the ghost, you’re put into a critical situation where you must pick the right answer from a list or use the correct item to interact with the ghost or the environment.
On one hand, this new confrontation system makes the solutions a bit easier to figure out, but on the other hand, a wrong choice results in a game over. It lets you retry from the start of the confrontation, though, so you never lose too much progress.
In general, NG felt more straightforward than Death Mark. You still need to investigate for clues and solve occasional puzzles, but the emphasis is more on the story.
Fortunately, the story is very good. It’s a dark, creepy story that progresses nicely as you investigate each spirit. There were some pretty twisted moments, although only a couple of the new spirit stories were as dark as those in Death Mark. On a similar note, NG is not very scary. When the game begins, you set the level of scares, which basically means whether or not random spirits will appear in the environment while you’re investigating. Even on “Scary Mode,” though, these aren’t too frequent. Only a handful of moments in NG actually made me jump. But even though I found it more creepy than scary, I enjoyed the story a lot.
I pursued the good ending, but I made multiple saves in case I want to replay for the other endings someday. Spirit Hunter: NG is a great game, and I’m even more excited now for the third Spirit Hunter game (aka Shibito Magire), confusingly titled Death Mark II for the west.
Aksys announced an All Aksys Online Event for October 20 at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET, so maybe we’ll get a Death Mark II release date there!---
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