Ju-On: The Grudge (Review)

This ‘fright simulator’ loosely borrows from the films to provide a few cheap jumps and puzzles. You control a girl that enters an abandoned warehouse to retrieve her wandering dog. Naturally it’s cursed, now you are too and you better start to work out how to appease the spirits of these spiteful child ghosts before they claims your soul, or something.

You navigate your way around the darkness in a first-person viewpoint with your wiimote controlled torch that works well when moving forwards but struggles to keep up if you try and turn too quickly. Poking around the chilling locations in the dark does feel quite immersive though as you are in direct control of what you aim the light at.

The main scares the game uses are similar to those found in the films. The creepy kid with the coal-black eyes appears when you open doors, pops up in your face or sticks his head through a window. It’ll make you jump and sometimes laugh at his cheeky persistence. The speaker on the wiimote is used to creepy effect when your in-game mobile goes off and you get an earful of that familiar croaking noise. Bits of ceiling fall near you and windows smash in the background to add to the atmosphere, but have little effect after repetition. Overall though the sounds are done well and occasionally catch you out with a cheap scare.

The girl with the demented eyes and wet hair covered face will appear right in front of you and grab you making that noise. You shake her off by following the on-screen prompts to shake the wiimote in one of four directions.

One of the enticing ideas behind the game was that it would rate your performance by judging how shaky your hands are and how susceptible you are to the game’s jumpy moments. Nice idea, but hampered by the fact that the aforementioned reflex movements to escape sulky-chops’ clutches often need extra swings before they register. This results in your end of level rating basically taking the piss at how much of a wuss you are. You might as well suck it up though as messing up once on a swing results in death and a level restart.

The games biggest failing is the lack of checkpoints. Fail a quick-time-event when you get grabbed in the darkness or run out of torch batteries and you’re dead. You’ll fumble around a deserted ward and check every room three times until you finally trigger the next event, and then probably die because you went through seven batteries and just didn’t make it to the stairwell door that finally opened. Starting this chapter again you’ll feel none the wiser about how to get through this small area any quicker.

While it is annoying dying because you run out of batteries, most gamers would settle for the batteries depleting even faster if it meant you’d move quicker. You move forward so slowly, you’ll be devastated when you realise you’ve walked to the wrong room or even the wrong side of it and you have to start the long journey of ten feet back to the corridor. Sloths walking up a treacle-covered mountain have more zip to them. You probably lose a load of man points trying to turn around 180 degrees too as your torch suddenly becomes obsessed with the ceiling or floor and you wave the wiimote spasmodically trying to find the centre of the screen again.

It’s a game that showed a lot of promise, but the painfully slow movement that horribly misjudges the balance between a cautious pace and desire to explore cripples it and showcases the plain level design puzzles of locked doors with insultingly nearby keys or areas with no clear objective until you accidentally trigger an event.

5/10

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