When Square Enix revealed Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries Of Honjo, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or what the new series would be about. After all, I have a generally good idea of what the developer has been known to release and what was coming in the current months. However, it turns out there are still some surprises in store but finding information has been a bit of a nuisance. That is of course, now that reviews are launching for this month’s launch.
When you start Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo you control protagonist Shogo Okiie who quickly comes across a cursed stone with his friend Yoko Fukunaga. As recent acquaintances, it’s clear the friendship is fresh and there’s a lot of work to be done here. Both being in Kinshibori Park, Yoko will tell you about the Seven Mysteries of Honjo as well as the Rite of Resurrection which is, in theory, urban legends. However, not long after the beginning of the chapter, Shogo Okiie realizes that the legend of the cursed stones is real, due to the death of Yoko.
Paranormasight Often Subverts Expectations
Shogo finds himself with the possibility of reviving his friend through the Rite of Resurrection. However, there is a big catch to using this power – he will need to kill others to ensure by using the cursed stone of the Whispering Canal, which will drown whoever walks away from the holder of the curse.
To my surprise, I was impressed by how the first chapter lays out the rules of the curse and how it affects not only those around the holder but also other curses that can be utilized by others. While the first chapter does an incredible of setting the tone, Square Enix has nailed down an enticing and interesting horror setting with each story featuring a unique take on how the curses work.
Paranormasight makes great use of having multiple protagonists to tell the macabre tales of Honjo. In some cases, this might not work to the benefit of the story and I’ve played and watched series that end up taking away from the experience because it adds too much exposition. Thankfully, this isn’t an issue and each chapter is mostly balanced well. Often I’d find myself thinking about how the storytelling elements are given just enough room to breathe and with the help of The Storyteller, a meta-character who directs the player through these chapters, you feel like his role is that of a guide through these urban myths. Think of Dr. Hill or ‘The Analyst’ from Until Dawn, who serves as an outside force looking in and you’ll understand why these characters feel similar.
Forcing the player to utilize the curses wouldn’t make sense from a moral standpoint and if you’re looking to execute your curse against someone else in Paranormasight, it is an optional event left up to the discretion of you, the player. I tend to lean away from the dark choices in most games and while I feel like it’s morally wrong to be a dick to people unwarranted, I decided to step out of my moral comfort zone and try something different.
What Would You Do To Bring Back A Loved One?
I landed a few curses against others and while it felt dangerously addictive, it was wrong. Misguided misfortune is one thing, but being able to willingly cast such nefarious energy unto others goes against who I am. I think Square Enix seemingly realized that not every player wants to harm others so thankfully there is a way to reverse several key moments with the help of the Storyteller who can sometimes be the voice of reason to your madness.
Being a curse-bearer is a massive burden and a volatile experience because you’re supposed to fill the cursed stones with the soul dregs of victims. Moreover, encountering those who also hold a cursed stone is where a massive payout pays off and it can be tempting to simply do the wrong thing and fill your own cursed stone to eventually be the one to cast the Rite of Resurrection, the one-time opportunity to revive someone who is dead.
A lot of what you’ll be doing is going through dialogue choices and often a handful of subjects are available to choose from with some even being rehashed to find the right path through the conversation. Thankfully, there is a checkmark that appears over someone when you’ve reached the end of the discussion with them so you can freely move on to someone else.
As someone who always wants to say the right thing in a conversation, I’ve found I have gotten better at it in my day to day. Paranormasight challenges me in almost every conversation I have as I end up questioning whether I said or made the right move regarding the people I encounter. Moreover, there will be others who will try to get you to fall victim to their curse stone and will do a pretty convincing job at almost getting you to become a soul dreg yourself.
Visually, Paranormasight is easily a highlight for 2023 with incredible character designs from Gen Kobayashi — Lead Character Art Designer for The World Ends With You Neo: The World Ends with You. Many of the starring characters feature a distinct, outline that is reminiscent of Okami, combing to make this wonderfully dreary storybook scenario where the pages come to life.
The world of Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo is filled with a lot of history. With help from the Sumida City Tourist Division, you’re able to explore the Showa-era city which uses a 360-degree camera view to showcase the beautiful city.
The difficulty in writing this review is that many of the stories you’ll be experiencing are just too good to give away. I felt the same when I played Doki Doki Literature Club, so if you’ve played it, you may understand why trying to describe what you’re in for may feel like I’m giving away all the interesting nuance you gain from simply playing through Paranormasight.
If you’ve ever played a visual novel then you’ll know that between the branching paths and plethora of characters, there’s a lot to work through and keep track of. In this case, not only are you dealing with that but also a foreboding sense of dread on the back of your neck at all times. This is paired with some impressively detailed logs you’ll need (and want) to read as they offer you a great deal of detail about the characters with valuable information constantly offering tidbits well worth remembering.
I went in blind with Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo and it has easily become a must-play title for 2023. Going in with as little knowledge as possible is the best way to play this brilliant and engaging new series. Japanese folklore is easily some of the most interesting fiction you can utilize for a video game and it is smartly adapted with a constant sense of dread permeating through the campaign.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: Switch