When a horror movie is terrible, it can be unintentionally hilarious or boring and stupid. The same goes for videogames. Hudson's newest title, Calling, falls into the latter category, while also taking the dubious title of "Most Boring Horror Game I've Ever Played."
Calling is a first person survival horror game that follows four people who have been transported to this netherworld between the real world and ghost world (the space between spaces). They wander around shining flashlights in hallways, trying to find a way out, but mostly they just keep finding really girly cell phones, and then ghosts call them on the phones and try to meet up somewhere to get it back, or maybe kill you. There's no Starbucks in the ghost world, so they have to meet you in old houses and creepy high schools.
Calling isn't scary. It just isn't. Sure, that creepy long-haired girl was spooky a decade ago, but come on, Japan! You've got to have something else up your sleeve than ghost children, right? We're America -- we've been making children the vessels of evil for 40 years!
The voice acting is pretty awful too, which is the fastest way to make a horror game less horrific. There is a Japanese voice track, but, in addition to being impossible to tell if it's better acted, still makes the game less scary because you have to read the text on screen.
What little spookiness might have been in Calling is washed away by the frequentness in which the player is pulled out of the game. It felt like there were more cutscenes than gameplay, and most of those were expositional conversations, not anything scary. On top of that, I had to pause the game to check the map so often that I couldn't be scared if I tried. The developers know too, because every so often they make a ghost face pop up when you exit the pause screen. Lame.
Further adding to these issues are some terrible first-person controls. It's hilarious that a survival horror game that came out after Silent Hill: Shattered Memories would have the worst flashlight mechanics of any Wii game. Most of the game is spent walking around, looking at nothing, then opening a door. Sometimes the door leads to a cutscene, but most of the time there's nothing to see. The few "jump" moments get repeated so often that players will come to expect them well before they ever happen.
I hesitate to even use the term "survival" in here because you're barely ever in peril. Sure occasionally a ghost attacks you, but you just waggle (ugh!) until it lets you go. The ghost attacks are few and far between, well past the point of luring you into a false sense of security, and straight on into the "I wish something would just attack me already" territory.
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