Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et al.)

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Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et al.)

Postby layzee » Mon Dec 26, 2011 4:18 pm

Anyone here fluent or near-fluent in the Japanese language and familiar with visual novels (old and new) that have a horror theme to it? Or visual novels with thriller, suspense or mystery elements?

I'm already aware of recent releases like 「極限脱出 9時間9人9の扉」, 「コープスパーティー ブラッドカバー リピーティッドフィアー」, 「ナナシノゲエム」and 「ナナシ ノ ゲエム 目」, all for the Nintendo DS (and the first two in English).

At the moment, I'm particularly interested in the older ones for Super Famicom and PS1, the bulk of which seems to be from Human Entertainment (which no longer exists) and Chunsoft. English information seems to be more scarce for these ones.

Games I've had my eye on in the past and saved in my memory for later (once my Japanese language knowledge is sufficient) include:

    The Twilight Syndrome series (PS1) and Moonlight Syndrome (PS1) by Human. One of them Twilight Syndrome games I've played seems to be about urban myths. The first chapter involved one of the most popular ones: 花子, the toilet-haunting ghost girl. Like the original Silent Hill (PS1), the non-next-generation graphics is not a bad thing, and instead contributed to the atmosphere.

    かまいたちの夜 (multiple games and consoles, original on SFC, newest on PS3) by Chunsoft. Since this game has many releases, I figure there's something good about it. Like many of the SFC games, the backgrounds are static images, the characters are like opaque wire-framey models (think Dural or whoever is the last boss from the Virtua Fighter series), and accompanied by spooky music (if the situation calls for it).

    学校であった怖い話 (SFC/PS1) by Pandora Box. Apparently this is the best of its type (horror visual novels) on the Super Famicom.

    街 (Sega Saturn, PS1, PSP) by Chunsoft. What little I have heard about this one are vaguely positive things; the only problem is nobody specified what is exactly so good about it.

    428 ~封鎖された渋谷で (PS3, Wii, PSP) by Chunsoft. Apparently a story about 5 strangers whose stories are all linked together. Not sure if it's more of a horror or more of a thriller/suspense. Famitsu also apparently gave this game a perfect 40/40 so I figure there's something good about this one as well.

    バロックシンドローム (PS1) by Sting. Its PS2/Wii incarnations can be played in English but its original PS1/SS release and its visual novel offshoot remains unknown. Did they name it syndrome to directly reference the Twilight Syndrome games?

    The やるドラ (lit. "do drama") series (4 PS1 games). Not quite horror but likely some amounts of thriller/suspense. I first encountered these games from trailers and as a game demo (both on random Japanese PS1 demo discs, プレプレ to be more precise). Standard anime graphics with voice acting and dialogue choices. 4 games (each representing a season) so it must be at least a little bit good. Plus it appears to have some elements of crazy, psychotic girlfriends so hopefully some tragic endings.

    The Never/Ever 17 games (various consoles). Don't know much about this one, but apparently good stories.
Those are most of the main ones and the first ones I would check out if I were able to do so. There's plenty more of its type on all consoles, and even more as doujins (ひぐらしのなく頃に), but for the sake of quality control, let's try to keep it to official non-PC games.

Now my question to those who can comprehend Japanese: how good are the stories (subjective I know but try to explain objectively) in these visual novels, how well written are they and anything else worth mentioning?
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Kaneda » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:49 am

layzee wrote:かまいたちの夜 (multiple games and consoles, original on SFC, newest on PS3) by Chunsoft. Since this game has many releases, I figure there's something good about it. Like many of the SFC games, the backgrounds are static images, the characters are like opaque wire-framey models (think Dural or whoever is the last boss from the Virtua Fighter series), and accompanied by spooky music (if the situation calls for it).


My girlfriend loves Kamaitachi no Yoru. Its pretty much the only game she's played "seriously" as she's not into video games at all. It's not especially exciting but the atmosphere is good and its not too long or too easy. I'm not personally into the murder mystery in a snowed-in camp lodge theme, but its solid. The Japanese isn't very hard either.

The only other horror novel I played was Dead of the Brain on an emulator. I was really digging it until it stopped working about a half hour in :/

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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Imhotep » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:05 pm

it's much rather a visual novel with a mystery theme than a horror novel, but I really enjoyed Torico (Lunacy in the US) for the Saturn. It has a strange mood to it that I really liked.

other than that, Shadow of Memories (PS2) might qualify, it's also about the atmosphere and has a non-linear storyline that's essential to uncover the mysteries. I also enjoyed it a whole lot.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Shou » Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:53 am

I've played and fully completed (all endings) the first 3 Yarudora games, Double Cast, Kisetsu and Sampaguita. I started Yukiwari but it never captured me so left it on the backburner a decade ago. I also played through Scandal and Blood but didn't get all of the endings for them.

The whole concept of Yarudora was to combine high quality animation with dramatic human relationship storylines. Unlike most AVGs, everything is animated and as you go through the games, the number of endings increases from 20 something to 40 something. For the PS1 series, Double Cast is easily the best. Both, it and Sampaguita, I would qualify more as suspense than horror. Kisetsu is very much a romance. Blood is probably the only one that fits under horror and serves as a better introduction to the series than the anime movie.

All of my college friends who played AVGs were enamored with Otogiriso on SFC and the remake on PS1. I've heard from a number of people that only the first Kamaitachi is any good but I haven't played it. I also have Ever 17 on my backlog which I'll get to this year...maybe.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby layzee » Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:26 pm

One year later and my Japanese vocabulary has improved a decent amount but still not good enough.

When I finish Core 6000, and one day someday, I'll play through this list, starting with Twilight Syndrome since it's not merely text on a background, and because the characters are children so they won't force me to open up a dictionary (program) too often. Casual speech and contractions are still my weak point though, and standard textbooks rarely go over it.

I'm also branching out a bit and checking out Japanese-exclusive non-VN PS1 horror games like Echo Night.

Imhotep wrote:other than that, Shadow of Memories (PS2) might qualify, it's also about the atmosphere and has a non-linear storyline that's essential to uncover the mysteries. I also enjoyed it a whole lot.


Got it. Haven't tried it though.

Kaneda wrote:The only other horror novel I played was Dead of the Brain on an emulator. I was really digging it until it stopped working about a half hour in :/


Looks interesting. There's something appealing about gore graphics on old consoles/computers.

Speaking of oldies, while probably not horror but possibly thriller/suspense, anyone tried Enix's Misty Blue? What's the general theme of the story? Like most people, I only knew about it from browsing Yuzo Koshiro's past works, and is the main reason why I'm interested in the game itself.

Shou wrote:I also played through Scandal


Oh, I used to have that one a few years ago. I checked it out but since my Japanese comprehension was lower back then, I didn't get much out of it. But it did seem interesting and it seemed to involve a "reporter/journalist with a camera getting himself into the thick of it" theme. Unfortunately, I can't read fast so the game's time limits on dialogue/action choices would be tricky.

Shou wrote:All of my college friends who played AVGs were enamored with Otogiriso on SFC and the remake on PS1.


Another Chun-soft game to my list then.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Macaw » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:14 pm

Just get a pc98 emulator and your good to go, its the go to system for this genre. A good hundred or more 'adventure' titles specifically with horror themes and such. Here are some:


Dead of the Brain 1 and 2 (zombies and gore)
Marine Philt (Aliens invade a city and gore)
Dracula Hyakusaku (super cool take on dracula)
Necronomicon (Cthulhu Mythos, easily one of the better horror adv games)
Kuro no Danshou (Cthulhu mythos, heavy detective stuff)
Es no Houteishiki (sequel to kuro no danshou)
Isaku (incredibly unique take on a horror game)
Kawazakike no Ichizoku (This one is a bit heavy on the adult content but its one crazy ass suspenseful story with some insane endings)
Nonomura Byouin no Hitobito (spiritual follow up to Kawazakike no Ichizoku with you taking the role of a detective solving a murder case in a hospital)
Ballade For Maria (Murder mystery)

A lot of these games have amazing artwork as well - these screens taken from the fm towns marty blog:


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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Pretas » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:06 pm

Saya no Uta is the horror VN everyone knows, thanks to its excellent fan translation. I heard Nitro+ is trying to give it an official English release, but that may prove difficult due to its loli namesake. Urobuchi Gen is an amazing writer; it's a shame he's been wasted on tripe like the Puella Madoka anime.

What about Corpse Party, originally a PC-98 doujin work? It's not really a visual novel, more of an RPG without stats or battles, but the PSP remake is really creepy and affecting. It's also an example of a game that makes very good use of minimal graphics. It's almost Sierra-like in that there are instant game overs everywhere, and flags that will screw you out of the true ending for good without telling you. Though some of the bad ends are well developed enough to qualify as alternates.

There is a spinoff (the English release is in four days) and a parody game on the PSP. They're finally making a proper sequel for the PC, subtitled Dead Patient.

I'd love to play the Dead of the Brain games if my kanji was better. Wasn't the DotB collection the final PCE-CD release?

I'm also branching out a bit and checking out Japanese-exclusive non-VN PS1 horror games like Echo Night.

Echo Night was localized.

(EDIT: I now see that Corpse Party was addressed in the first post, but it is erroneously referred to as a DS game.)
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby SuperDeadite » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:04 am

For Dead of the Brain, I recommend the MSX original personally. It's the only version that's full screen, and I find the lack of border and icons to be a lot more imersive when played in the dark. (the other versions use the border due to resolution differences, they were too lazy to redraw). Sadly MSX only has the first game though.

Personally, Divi-Dead is still an old favorite of mine. The Himeya Soft Translation is horrid so go Japanese if you can, but either way a must play.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Pretas » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:54 am

I've played Divi-Dead, but only with the questionable translation. At least the English script isn't as bad as Hirameki's VN translations, and I liked how Ranmaru talks like a total jerk. I enjoyed it a lot, though I wasn't fond of the parts where you aren't told where to go next and have to mindlessly keep checking every area of the campus until you stumble on the next event trigger. I intend to play the other translated C's Ware VNs (Eve: Burst Error, Adam: The Double Factor, Desire) eventually.

They're actually "sound novels," since there was a lot more work put into the music and effects than the visuals, but the enduringly popular Higurashi and Umineko horror VNs warrant a mention. Both have been given pro-level translations and are very suspenseful and well written, even if their repetition motif eventually becomes grating. They also both have anime adaptations, though these swing between being mediocre and bad. Note that the English version of Higurashi sold by MangaGamer is butchered.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Macaw » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:59 am

SuperDeadite wrote:For Dead of the Brain, I recommend the MSX original personally. It's the only version that's full screen, and I find the lack of border and icons to be a lot more imersive when played in the dark. (the other versions use the border due to resolution differences, they were too lazy to redraw). Sadly MSX only has the first game though.


Does the MSX version retain the graphic quality though? There are barely any shots online of the msx version but it looks as if theres a hit to the detail and colors. The PC Engine version is the worse of all with how cut down the graphics are, the level of fine detail in the original pc98 version is amazing. The sequel didn't have nearly as good artwork.

PC98 and PCE:

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Personally, Divi-Dead is still an old favorite of mine. The Himeya Soft Translation is horrid so go Japanese if you can, but either way a must play.


I've been meaning to play this for ages, looks similar to Necronomicon.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby SuperDeadite » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:16 am

The MSX version is identical to the other computer versions AFAIK. Running on my Sony Trinitron via RGB it looked amazing. The difference is just the resolution. So on MSX it's actually full screen, but being 15khz, you have scanlines. On the Towns and X68K it's 31khz, so no scanlines, but instead you get the borders and silly English click buttons. (MSX one just uses a simple kanji menu on the bottom of the screen, way more natural looking imo).
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby layzee » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:11 am

I just remembered another game that may be worth checking out: Linda^3 (Linda Cubed).

It's a pretty unknown PS1 game but the main thing it is known for is an Adolf Hitler lookalike and low level but disturbing gore.

Macaw wrote:Pics


Cool, I can understand most of the text there so I'm sure I can check the games you listed soon (this year), starting with Dead of the Brain.

Pretas wrote:Echo Night was localized.


Perhaps, not the sequel though.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Pretas » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:07 pm

Linda Cubed on the PS1/Saturn is actually a remake of the PCE-CD game with new animated FMVs. The game is very much a proper RPG, not a visual novel, though. Worth mentioning that the title is an obvious reference to the Blue Hearts song.

Echo Night 2 wasn't localized, but its PS2 sci-fi spinoff Nebula was.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Shou » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:47 am

SuperDeadite wrote:The MSX version is identical to the other computer versions AFAIK. Running on my Sony Trinitron via RGB it looked amazing. The difference is just the resolution. So on MSX it's actually full screen, but being 15khz, you have scanlines. On the Towns and X68K it's 31khz, so no scanlines, but instead you get the borders and silly English click buttons. (MSX one just uses a simple kanji menu on the bottom of the screen, way more natural looking imo).


I play the retro PCs on an arcade monitor so I can adjust the height and width then add scanlines with an slg3000 :)
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Shou » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:58 am

If you're going to branch off into adventure titles rather than just visual novels,

On console, I enjoyed Torico (aka Lunacy in the US), Echo Night 1-2 (haven't finished Nebula yet), Shadow of Memories (aka Shadow of Destiny in the West), and Forget me not (this was an RPG Maker winner back in the day and remade on PS1).

Aconcagua is a bit more action-y but is like a point & click with a South American politically themed backdrop.

If you can understand Japanese, Island of the Seven Winds Story on Saturn is very very good. It's beautiful and obtuse which is why it bombed hard but very enjoyable and if anyone can clear the epilogue, send me a PM as there is almost no info on the web in Japanese.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Pretas » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:36 am

Reminder that Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is out in English on the US PSN today.

I've looked at Torico/Lunacy, but the 3DCG characters are laughably bad looking, like something out of an early 3DO title. Is the game interesting enough to make up for it?
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Shou » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:13 am

Pretas wrote:Reminder that Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is out in English on the US PSN today.

I've looked at Torico/Lunacy, but the 3DCG characters are laughably bad looking, like something out of an early 3DO title. Is the game interesting enough to make up for it?


That's really up to you. I found the story and music enthralling enough but I can play games from the early 80's and have no issues with the aesthetics. I played through D on 3DO 4-5 years ago and had no issues with how it looked. Torico is made by System Sacom who did the 2 Dream Mansion titles on Mega CD and Saturn so if you can't take those then...
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Pretas » Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:22 am

Nothing against old graphics. But I think most of us can agree that early 2D has aged a whole lot better than early 3D.

Torico's 3D FMVs definitely look better than the Dream Mansion games, though not as good as Enemy Zero.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Imhotep » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:21 am

I liked Torico quite a bit, I don't remember graphics that get in the way. Also, the (english) voices are good. It's a short game and well worth trying.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby SuperDeadite » Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:19 pm

Finally after 3 years of active searching, I found one. :)

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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby Macaw » Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:37 pm

I was disappointed by the action scenes in Marine Philt, Dead of the brain 2 is superior in that department.

Action scenes aside its a cool game, obviously drawing on Aliens, Predator 2 and Split Second.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby SuperDeadite » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:34 pm

Played for awhile last night. I quite like the style, and the graphics are fantastic. My biggest surprise though was the music. I had always assumed it would use FM music and sound very similar to the PC98 original, but I was very wrong. It actually uses full redbook CD audio for music, and the arrangement sounds fantastic. ;) Even though I already own DeadotBrain on MSX and X68000, I think I'll pick up the Towns version at some point, as now I'm quite curious about the music in that one too...
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby muki » Mon Jun 17, 2013 6:38 am

@layzee
If you're going for the sound novel type, then Kamaitachi no Yoru and Otogirisou are the best, in my opinion. I think the PS1 ports are probably your best bet in terms of user friendliness, but the SFC vers are not bad at all.
In the same vein, Zakuro no Aji and Majo Tachi no Nemuri (latter has a ps1 port) are worth a look.

As mentioned, Machi is also acclaimed and if you like it, 428 and more recently, Time Travellers (though this strays from the sound novel and into the adventure genre) are very solid entries into the genre.

Obviously less pictures and more text means requires a higher level of Jpns, but I found them to be great learning tools when played with a dictionary and elementary grammatical knowledge.

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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby layzee » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:05 pm

Well, it's been a year and a half since I created the thread but I still haven't properly tried any of these games that people have suggested. I wonder when I will...

My excuse is that I want to have as large a "Japanese Toolbox" as possible before "plunging into" these media. Which is contrary to the "Japanese Immersion" philosophy whereby the Japanese language learner is encouraged to jump in straight away.

Do note however that your game suggestions have not been in vain and one day I will start playing them and then finishing playing most of them, whether it is by the end of this year or when I'm a senior citizen. I can say this because I have no plans to "outgrow" video games or become "too mature" for video games. Japanese video games: it's the main reason I am learning Japanese for.
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Re: Horror Visual Novels (Human Entertainment, Chunsoft, et

Postby zinger » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:09 pm

I know what you mean layzee. Having to constantly look up words or kanji is totally anti-immersive and would completely spoil the experience for me. I'm holding out too, and would much rather use Japanese Nobel prize literature for mere practice, before I'm ready for these. :)


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