Last year publisher Aksys Games and developer Experience released a new horror visual novel game called Death Mark that would end up being the first entry in the Spirit Hunter series. Now a year later they are following it up with another entry called Spirit Hunter: NG on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Death Mark really surprised me with just how good it was last year in both the story and artwork and if you enjoyed it too then you’ll need to be jumping into NG as soon as you can.
Just like the game before it, Spirit Hunter: NG is another captivating horror visual novel mixed with detective gameplay elements. I played through it on the PlayStation 4 in a little over 20 hours and came away very impressed with this one. The main character you play as in this game is Akira Kijima, a man who’s mother has died and now lives with his adoptive Aunt Natsumi. She has a daughter, Ami, who Akira ends up becoming quite close with and thinks of like his own sister. With this being a horror game though you know something is going to go wrong and it does when one night Ami vanishes due to an evil spirit and it’s up to Akira to play along with this spirit and pass its trials in order to try and get her back. No story spoilers but the game has plenty of horror, mystery and suspenseful moments and I felt like it was paced well. Some of the later chapters did seem to go by pretty fast but otherwise I was happy with it.
Much like any visual novel you’ll be doing a lot of reading as you talk to the various characters in the game. But since this game is about investigating as well you’ll be doing more than just reading. There are some scenes in the game that you’ll be allowed to interact with and investigate different points in it. You’ll be able to pick up items in them and review items you may already have. Then there are choices to make when talking to characters and you can grow your bonds with them through the attitude system depending on what you choose to say. Outside of the regular dialog choices you are given there are the critical choices that pop up every now and then. If you choose wrong in one of these then it will lead to a game over. The game doesn’t punish you though as you’ll just be given another chance to do it again. It can be a good thing but it also lessens the impact of making the wrong choice when you can just go back and try again.
NG brings back boss battles and you’ll be given a choice on whether to destroy these things or save them. This is another thing that will influence other events in the game. In fact a lot of the characters in the game can and will die depending on your choices and they all will die in gruesome and disturbing ways. There’s nothing like becoming fond of a character just to see them brutally killed because of a choice you made. Even after you finish the game once you’ll still have more to do as NG has multiple endings to see. There is also a fast skip option which is handy for playing through parts you’ve been through. The game also has a cool feature that lets you increase the number of jump scares you’ll encounter which is very fun. The game also has a gallery where you can view art and listen to music in the game.
All of the character art whether it be companions, monsters, etc is great and was done by Fumiya Sumio. There are plenty of dark and disturbing scenes in this game that he has drawn and they all drive home that sense of horror. When it comes to audio this game sadly doesn’t feature much voice acting either just like Death Mark. It has a little but I feel like the story could be even better than what it is if it had full on voice acting. The soundtrack always seems to fit the mood of the current scene whether it be a more laid back moment or something more serious. The game has 26 trophies including a Platinum that is shared across the PS4 and Vita versions so you can only platinum it once. The list is a lot like other visual novels so not very hard but you’ll have to make certain choices and get certain endings to earn them all.
Spirit Hunter: NG is a fantastic follow up to Death Mark and any fan of that one will be happy with this I’m sure. It has another dark and captivating story and you’ll grow to love certain characters only to then have them get killed horribly because of a choice you made. The beautifully drawn visuals and soundtrack that always seems to fit what is going on further makes this a standout visual novel. If you enjoy this genre this is one you shouldn’t miss.
*Spirit Hunter: NG is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
Spirit Hunter: NG$49.99
- Excellent story that newcomers and fans of Death Mark will enjoy
- Fantasticly drawn artwork that is both beautiful and disturbing
- Lots of great characters
- Multiple outcomes give you a reason to replay
- Still barely features any voice acting
- Critical choices don't feel as impactful as they could be