Calling All Horror Fans
January 27, 2010 – When you look at a game release list for the Wii, it seems as though there are only three kinds of games coming out for the system. You can have your choice between Nintendo titles, party games, or frightening horror outings. I know that’s an over generalization, but it really seems like if you own a Wii and aren’t interested in playing games with or in front of your family, then all you want is to be scared within an inch of your life. Keep in mind this isn’t a complaint because, honestly, I think the Wii has really come into its own in the horror genre with titles like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Dead Space Extraction, The House of the Dead: Overkill, and the list could go on almost indefinitely. Come this March, hopefully we’ll have another title to add to this list in the form of Hudson’s upcoming game simply titled Calling.
At its core, Calling is a first-person survival horror game that focuses more on exploration, solving puzzles, and finding clues rather than combat. You actually won’t be given any weapons at all in this title. In this case, and a few others we’ll get to, Calling seems to share many similarities with Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (SH:SM), which was a pretty unique horror experience. However, the story behind Calling has more in common with the film The Ring. In this game you’ll play as four different characters whose interweaving stories all revolve around a mysterious website. This site, called The Black Page, appears to be completely blank except for what looks like a hit counter, although it isn’t counting how many people visit the site exactly. Instead, upon visiting the site some people see “something” and if they do they will inevitably die, adding another hit to the counter. Seems like a spooky enough premise, and the gameplay demo we’ve seen recently reinforces this vibe very well.
The demo starts off in the shoes of a young man named Shin Suzutani. He’s locked in a dark and grimy room with constantly flickering lights. Moving around with the analog stick and aiming an on-screen cursor with the Wii Remote, Shin is able to better explore his surroundings. Whenever the cursor passes over objects of interest it will change into a magnifying glass, a hand, or an eyeball depending on how you can interact with said object. Holding down the A button on some dresser drawers and pulling back on the Remote (see SH:SM) opens them for further inspection.
After finding nothing of use inside, the power goes completely out and a cell phone on top of the dresser rings. Shin answers it, with the player holding the Remote’s speaker up to their ear to receive the message (see SH:SM). Oddly enough, given this game’s name you can bet that you’ll likely always have a cell phone handy and that it will play a large role in your adventure. Once the static-filled and incoherent call is over, the exit is opened, allowing the player to venture forth in search of a light. Moving down the still darkened hallway, Shin comes upon a locked door, but upon turning around to double back, he is attacked by a ghost.
When these confrontations occur in the game, players will need to either quickly tap the A button to instantly end the fight, or shake the Remote back and forth in order to survive the encounter. Players will have an on-screen horror meter that will gauge just how scared their character currently is. Pressing the A button quickly enough will keep this meter from rising at all, but a prolonged confrontation will make it fill. If you swing too slowly, your horror meter will fill and turn red, continuing until it’s eventually game over. However, once a fight is over, this meter will return to normal if the player simply remains still and rests.
Surviving the attack, Shin makes his way into a room where he luckily stumbles upon a flashlight. You guessed it, you’ll need to point the Remote in order to aim your newly found light source (see SH:SM). Next to the flashlight Shin also discovers a Japanese doll, which can be investigated by spinning and maneuvering the Remote (see SH:SM). As in SH:SM, this can also allow you to find otherwise hidden secrets and useful bits of information. In the case of this doll, there was a message written on the bottom of one of its shoes.
Following this, the demo ended with a big and scary finish, as any good horror demo should. While peering through a small slit between two sliding doors, Shin spots what looks like a person lying on the floor. Suddenly there is a noise that startles Shin, making him turn around to find out what is happening. Seeing some freshly scattered doll heads rolling on the floor, Shin quickly turns back around towards the sliding doors once again. Now, instead of a person lying on the floor he discovers what appears to be a wall of doll heads trying to squeeze their way through the crack in the door using what looks like Bayonetta’s hair; some truly frightening stuff indeed.
Sure, there are many things in Calling that appear to be very similar to portions found in SH:SM, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. SH:SM is one of the creepiest and most engrossing games currently on the Wii, and if Calling has some similarities to it, then it too might be quite good. Either way, we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on the game before we can truly discover how similar or dissimilar these two games really are. So far it looks good, in a creepy and scary sort of way. Be sure to watch out for this one with the lights turned on and a flashlight with fully charged batteries handy come this March.