Ju-On: The Grudge Review
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