Price: £7.19 (£4.79 for Evil God Korone)
Where To Get It: Steam
Hrm. “Day of Atonement”, according to the developer. It’s a good title for this series of horror vignettes, and furthermore allows a simple change to make Tsugi No Hi (The Next Day), even if… What are the characters in these vignettes atoning for again?
Well, except for one, maybe two cases? Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, intruding upon something that they never would have realised they were intruding on. It’s honestly one of the things I like about Japanese horror stories like these: It doesn’t feel the need to explain the why or the what. If you happen to know why you’re being targeted by this ghost/youkai/kami/whatever (no, I’m not using these interchangably, I’m just covering the bases), then good, but most of the time… You won’t. Why would you? How would you?
I got pretty far ahead of myself here, so let’s back up a bit. Tsugu No Hi is a series of short adventures that were previously made in Flash, in which, for the majority of games, there are precisely two necessary controls: Left, to go left. Enter to pass onto the next bit of dialogue. You do this a few times, each time being a day, and eventually… Well, you inevitably reach your fate. It’s one of the more literal interpretations of Kinetic Novels I’ve seen, and I like that.
Equally, I like the aesthetic when it’s not trying its best to burst my eardrums or jumpscare me. Photoshopped people, a photocollage for most of the stories, blank spaces where the eyes should be being the norm, normal, ambient sounds, until… Oh… Oh… Things are starting to get weird. A good staple of horror that: The slow realisation of wrongness in reality. The music in the end and the beginning of each story is also good, so… Mmm, do like, and same with ye ambient horror bass.
Now, let’s get onto problems. So, first up, if kinetic novels are not your thing, this will miss you. You have next to no control, you cannot escape this fate, and, while this is thematically appropriate (after all, you were fucked from the moment whatever is happening started), this is what it is. A dark ghost house ride, jumpscares and all. Some of these hit, adding to the atmosphere, and some, well, they’re silly, shock and nothing more.
Secondly, this is… A pretty direct set of ports. Volume control? Gonna have to go into your mixer while the game’s running, buddy. The small window of the story selection screen is most definitely… A thing, although the windows for the games themselves can be maximised just fine. And thirdly, fans of the originals will find the “The Next Day” transitioning to “The Day of Atonement” (in this translation “The Hexed Day”… Oh ho ho) to be a disappointment. I can’t really speak about the quality of translation, alas, but it seems mostly faithful from what I’ve seen of translators Let’s Playing it.
Honestly, I like Tsugu No Hi overall, I love the implication of connected incidents in many of the chapters, and I like the general concept, even if the aural and visual assault of the final days is a mixed bag for me, usually a miss when it’s really over the top. But I like the connected stories, even if the connection isn’t obvious. This… Is an extremely cursed place. Spirits abound, people are fucked (and one cat. So, yes, CW: Cat death)…
…I just wish this was more of an update using the assets, rather than most of the originals, jank and all, collected in one place. But hey, if you like janky J-horror, know to turn the volume down in the mixer lest your eardrums suffer, and are fine with jumpscares (either in the sense of enjoying the ARGH! Or just… Being okay with them, like me), this definitely isn’t a bad pick to while away a few hours.
The Mad Welshman has somehow not reached The Day of Atonement. He’s kind of disappointed, actually. He’s always wanted to punch a ghost in the face for trying to claw his own off.