The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
All who are touched by the curse shall die. These are the foreboding words with which Ju-On: The Grudge attempts to simultaneously frighten and entice participants of the haunted house simulator. Little did I know when picking up the Wii remote that I would actually die of boredom. This Japanese horror game is more watered down than one of the genre’s American remakes.
The dubious story of Ju-On focuses on the cursed Yamada family. Each doomed protagonist’s tale is played out through individual episodes, beginning with the daughter of the family chasing her dog into a derelict warehouse. Other family members travel to abandoned apartments, a haunted hospital, a freaky fashion school, and one very familiar household. Each locale features the meowing little boy and long-haired ghoul gal from the films, recycled ad nauseum.The game starts off utilizing moody, real-life footage to set the dreary tone. The anxiety-inspiring atmosphere begins to falter in-game, with the liberal use of pitch blackness and a barely passable lighting system. The scariest sights you’ll shine your flashlight upon are the rough, unpolished environments.Controlling the various curse victims is performed with a single Wii remote mimicking a flashlight. You aim the beacon with the finesse of a post-traumatic stress victim as you steer and move your character at an impossibly slow pace in the first person. Apparently the Yamada family suffers from a hereditary condition where you have turtles instead of feet. During The Grudge’s prompted, finicky evasion encounters, you’ll run for your life, hide in closets, fight hair-tentacle monsters, and fend off stray cats by waggling the controller. These quicktime events crank up the challenge later in the game, but distinguishing between whether an indicator arrow requests a forward thrust versus an upward waggle can be frustrating.Ju-On: The Grudge fails to inspire terror, relying on tired jump-scares, that over-used croaking sound, and random, cheesy scares via a second controller. When horror movies suck, at least they only last an hour and a half. This spans an agonizing seven plus hours. This game deserves no more attention than a double-digit horror movie sequel laying in the $1.99 VHS bin.
Check out our exclusive Q&A with Ju-On's product manager regarding the status of the horror genre in gaming
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Ju-On: The Grudge immediately replaced my fears of its creepy raven-haired girl with frustration over its haunted Wii remote controls. While exploring stereotypical horror environments, you encounter the demon girl and her meowing male counterpart from the films, which is the only time any action occurs. You must swing the unforgivingly unresponsive remote in the direction of onscreen arrows, but its inaccuracy causes you to restart the entire episode if you fail. These encounters are few and far between, leaving you to wander and gaze at PS2-quality graphics. The Grudge had so much potential to creep the hell out of people and failed at every dark turn.