Confusing and creepy? Check! Huge, faceless bad guy? Check! Helpless character that doesn’t know what to do? Check! I know what you’re thinking…….awesomely bad horror movie, right? Nope! It’s Hysteria Project 2 from BulkyPix and Sanuk Games.
Originally an iOs game, Hysteria Project 2 has been unleashed onto Playstation Network in the form of a Mini (meaning it can be played both on PS3 and PSP). Now, I haven’t played either of the Hysteria Project games, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I soon found out that what I should expect was confusion, more watching than playing, and a whole lot of dying. That pretty much sums up the game, but I’ll elaborate a bit for the sake of the morbidly curious. As the game begins, you are treated to a dizzying cutscene involving scenes of running through a forest, being pushed on a gurney, and being tended to by a blonde British girl in a white coat. I say dizzying because the scenes blur and flicker, as if to denote fading in and out of consciousness. While it is quite long, the cutscene is very well done. In fact, my initial thought was “This is a mini?” which was then echoed by my watching husband. Then, the girl runs out, and the game changes from a cliched but kind of cool movie into what looked like an old pc game, with fuzzy graphics and a big green arrow for your cursor. What the heck?
Your character is laying on a gurney, and your first actual gameplay is trying to figure out what you are supposed to do……with absolutely no direction whatsoever. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that if you don’t figure it out in about 15 seconds, huge faceless guy will burst in and kill you. Ouch. You can’t explore the room, you can’t look for something to use to escape, and no one tells why on earth if the girl is trying to help you did she tie you up with duct tape? So, after dying about 5 times, I figured out that I had to click on my right arm, watch my character struggle and not get out of the duct tape, and then click on the right arm again to break free. There are no clues leading to this, really, other than the death screen saying something along the lines of “Get away faster stupid.” You just have to figure it out by trial, error, and dying a whole bunch of times. Goody. Incidentally, even though you had a very short time to get that one hand free, once you do, you’ll watch a long cutscene where you character takes his sweet time finding a scalpel and cutting through the rest of your bindings. Apparently creepy faceless guy with huge axe only wants to kill you if you have all your bindings on. Otherwise, he’ll wait.
“Well”, I thought to myself. “Maybe it’s just the one puzzle that’s badly done. Surely it gets better?” Nope. It doesn’t. Each and every puzzle involves watching a cutscene, not knowing what to do, and dying. Even the ones that aren’t too hard to figure out can be frustrating to carry out, and most of them had me screaming “SERIOUSLY?!?” at the screen as I died over and over again. One involves hiding behind a door while you watch 13 (Mr. Creepy) drag a body down the hallway and into a room. If you try to step into the hallway and die, you’ll find out that you are supposed to go into the room with the dead bodies even though the killer is still dragging them in there. Why would you go into that room when you are in a huge building? What am I, stupid? But you have to go in that room, and here’s how you do it: you hide behind the door frame while the killer goes in and out of the room, and then click on the door when he is not in the hallway or the room. Yay! You made it! Oh, except he’s coming right back. YOU DIED! Boy, that’s a familiar feeling in this game.
The controls on Hysteria Project 2 are very simple: you basically just use the stick to move the arrow around and “x” to click on things. I’ve never played the iOs version, but the controls don’t seem to work all that great on the PSMini’s version. They are kind of jerky at times. The look and feel of the game, during the cutscenes, is just what you’d expect this type of game to be. The cutscenes feel scary in a B movie kind of way, the killer is creepy enough and carries a big axe, your character breathes heavy and seems all around freaked out. The times when you actually play though, are too basic and too confusing.
Hysteria Project 2 has some very well done cutscenes that are really fun to watch. They draw you into the story and make you curious to find out more: Why are you here? Who’s the girl? Why don’t I ever talk? Unfortunately, the cutscenes raise expectations that the game does not meet. There is little story development, no direction, and it is frankly just very frustrating most of the time. I give Hysteria Project 2 a 4 out of 10, and recommend to fans of bad horror movies who would rather watch than play.