• Ikenie No Yoru Review (Night of the Sacrifice) Nintendo Wii

    Ikenie No Yoru translates as "Night of the Sacrifice". As it tells you at the start, it's an immersive horror game. It plays out in 1st person perspective, with you holding the Wii Remote like a torch to both see areas more clearly and point where you want to go; no nunchuk here. Unusually, movement can be controlled via the Wii Balance Board on which each step correlates directly to a step in the game (you can run backwards by holding a remote button at the same time). This even goes as far as tracking your number of steps, pedometer style – get fit while you get scared! Certainly if you don't lose weight that way, then you might lose some another way when the frights get going. You can also use button presses on the remote for each step instead.

    If you can play this in the dark, on a big screen, with the speakers cranked up loud, you will eventually reach a point where you are standing there in a dark corridor with a torch and your whole world becomes the game. This means that the scares will have a much greater effect and so is highly recommended. It's best not to use headphones because the remote speaker is also used at certain points, although if it's a choice between that and quiet speakers then go with the headphones. If you have a balance board available then definitely use that too because Ikenie No Yoru makes the bold move of being a weapon-free game. Often your only option is to run away and find somewhere to hide, so give the remote a swift flick to do a 180° and start running on the board. When you've found somewhere that might be suitable, you'll then be cowering in the dark with the torch turned off, heart beating fast from the effort, breathing heavily while praying that the evil thing you can hear scratching and scraping ever closer doesn't find you. Great stuff.

    Action takes place in the buildings, sewers and cliff-tops of a wooded valley by the sea, a valley allegedly possessed by a fearsome god that requires sacrifice. As the story begins 5 students arrive and there is the option to name them – it suggests you use names of your own friends "although we can't guarantee their safety". 24 hours later, all 5 have vanished, at which point you arrive, in true horror cliché style, seeking shelter from the rain in an abandoned house. Opening the creaky door reveals a trail of blood on the floor and the adventure starts.

    In each of the short episodic levels, you will start to reveal the story behind each of the 5 characters. Along the way, you'll encounter ghosts, ghouls, scary fire demons and various other instant-death-if-they-get-you creatures of the night, along with a number of generally weird goings-on. There is a modicum of puzzle solving, both in terms of physical clues and in trying to figure out how to defeat or run away from various enemies. None of it is very taxing which is a little disappointing, and since you have such a limited set of actions available, you can always fall back on trial and error. On the plus side, this makes it entirely suitable for importing by those with almost zero knowledge of Japanese. The general gist of the story can be gained from the visuals too.

    The simplistic nature of the possible actions works well to enhance the horror (OMGRUNCRAPPANTS!), but Ikenie No Yoru does suffer accordingly in that many of the levels feel quite similar, even though they take place in different locations. Some genuinely jumpy moments regularly pepper the proceedings though, so you are always a little on-edge, wary of what might happen next; in this respect, it's much like a standard horror film - you need the calm bits between to heighten the fear sections, by developing familiarity with the characters and their surroundings. This overall repetitiveness would make a second play-through lacking in appeal, but luckily Marvelous Entertainment have an ace up their sleeve: finishing the story unlocks the "Nightmare" mode. This penalises fast movement, but it's up to you to figure out just how fast (or slow!) you are allowed to try and escape from the clutches of evil - the only indication that you are going too fast is a film of blood starting to advance down the screen. As well as obscuring the view a fair amount, when it reaches the bottom of the screen, it's game over. Knowledge of the levels dampens replay though because you won't get the same "you have to be kidding me - there's NO WAY I'm going in there" type feeling of dread. The good news is that it's definitely there the first time around!

    If you prefer to tackle your enemies head-on with a variety of weapons, you won't get much from Ikenie No Yoru. However, if you loved the Fatal Frame series or possibly Silent Hill, you'll find more of what you are looking for here. It's a considered, well paced horror that takes a lot of risks to differentiate itself and only falls short of greatness through the lack of variety necessitated by certain design decisions. If you want to be properly scared, turn off the lights, crank up the volume, walk/run on the balance board and try to get through the Night of Sacrifice.

    You can purchase Ikenie No Yoru at Play-Asia to support other import reviews like this

    Warning: scare spoilers in vid below obviously - not plot related though.

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    Comments 1 Comment
    1. abigsmurf's Avatar
      abigsmurf -
      Sounds like an interesting game and the trailers looked pretty good. Certainly looks better than The Grudge.

      Would consider buying it if it came out over here for ?20 or so.