Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo game review (14)(age rating 16+)
*All images used are screenshots I have taken from the game.
The first thing I want to say is that Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo is severely UNDERRATED! Seriously, and it’s a shame because this is an amazing game that more people should discover and play.
Part of it being underrated and not known to many people, I do believe is due to lack of marketing and publicity. Just like with some other game companies Square Enix tends to pick and choose which titles to push sometimes.
Thankfully the wonderful UK community side of the company and the influencer managers I follow on twitter did a good job at marketing as that’s how I found out about this game (Shoutout Ria and Ibs!)
Anyway, without further ado, let’s get into it!
As always this will be a spoiler free review!
Ghosts, ghouls and spirits, oh my!
First of all, WHAT. AN. OPENING! That’s the first thing I have to say about Paranormasight and what a brilliant, clever way to introduce the protagonists.
I don’t normally suggest ways for people to play games, but for this game, I 100% suggest you go into it completely blind, not knowing anything about any of the characters or the plot aside from this one character named Shogo.
What made Paranormasight even more enjoyable for me was going into it without much knowledge of what the story was about beforehand.
Because of this, I will be trying my best to avoid revealing much about the story.
What’s it about?
Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo is a visual novel game by Square Enix.
If you don’t know what a visual novel is, it’s basically a game that relies heavily on text, images and story. Players often have to make dialogue based decisions, which can drive the story in different paths and it’s the same in Paranormasight. There’s also multiple endings.
As I said before, I went in without knowing anything about the plot and I found myself fully immersed into the world and the surprises that came with it. It made it more haunting and scarier, so I actually suggest you skip this section and go straight to “GAMEPLAY”, but if you do want to have a little insight into what the game is about feel free to keep reading this section!
Paranormasight takes place in 1980s Honjo, which I believe is a real location formerly part of Tokyo’s Sumida Ward. In the game, the city is a hot zone for supernatural legends thanks to “The Seven Mysteries of Honjo.” The title head of the series, which are gruesome events that took place during the Edo period.
Despite the game stating that everything is fictional, there are spiritual occult objects that people will recognise, such as the use of the Ouija Board that happens in the game with some of the characters, but the story mainly centres around the fictional history behind the Seven Mysteries of Honjo, and they play a big important role in the overall narrative of the game.
If you’ve played any kind of visual novel before then Paranormasight will definitely feel familiar in playstyle. There’s heavy emphasis on text and story, but at times you’ll be required to search the environment in a point and click style to look for clues that may help you further down the line. You’ll be required to pick dialogue options and even use your mouse to hide behind trees and eavesdrop on conversations!
Storywise with the gameplay, once you reach a certain point in the game, the story branches out and displays as a story chart, where you decide who’s story to follow.
The story chart lets you decide which storyline you want to pursue first, and gives you a clear visualisation of where you are in the story.
BUT despite there being three separate storyline they also intertwine with each other throughout the story and sometimes you won’t be able to move on in one storyline until you reach a certain point in the other. Sometimes the smallest change in one storyline can have a bigger effect on another so you definitely need to be vigilant when playing Paranormasight.
There were times where it felt like I was piecing a puzzle together and having to go back to an old section in the story to try and piece it together. It definitely kept me on my toes.
And if you do get stuck on a section and keep getting killed. The Storyteller will give you tips. Lowkey, I got stuck on one section because the way you passed was actually so genius, I haven’t seen a game use that technique before haha!
I literally burst into laughter because what you had to do was so simple, yet I doubt anyone would have figured out how to do it without that little nudge from the Storyteller. I tip my hat to you Square Enix. That was a funny one. You definitely need to think outside the box, I’ll tell you that much.
Something else I want to highlight in the gameplay of Paranormasight is the use of Files and Persons of Interest entries that you unlock throughout the game as Paranormasight often hides vital information in them that can help you along the way. I really admired and like how they use every small aspect of the game to influence and he’ll solve the mystery of the game. It really makes you feel like a detectives, searching through notes and files without it feeling too overwhelming. What may seem like a minor comment or visual detail in the game may be that one special piece you need to solve the mystery!
And the game tests to see how well you’ve been paying attention/ discovered along the way with sections requiring your character to explain what they’ve deduced so far and you’ll be told whether you’re right or wrong.
Great writing and eerie yet stunning visuals
This game seriously had me paranoid of EVERY character, and honestly, that probably saved me 80% of the time from being killed. I won’t give any spoilers, but I will say this… Be careful with who you trust and how you act in this game. Anything can happen in a blink of an eye.
That being said, ultimately when you do make a ‘bad’ decision, you can simply retry which means your decisions don’t really effect the story, aside from one mini cutscene which shows your character’s death. I kinda wished that similar to how other narrative drive games are that if a character dies then the story simply carries on without them, but honestly it’s a minor thing as the game itself is fantastic and that feeling of fulfilment that comes with figuring out a key piece of information of the plot is unmatched.
But what really ties in the spooky tone of the game and its writing is the visuals that accompany the game.
The character designs are by Gen Kobayashi, who also did The World Ends With You and the art style definitely gives Paranormasight a standout and unique visual flair. The dark hue aesthetic makes it even more eerie and fits in with the plot. It was intentional as when you speak with the mysterious storyteller, when he teleports you into the world of the story, it’s through an early colour TV, which is what it feels like when you play.
Also, side note, Kobayashi definitely doesn’t shy away from making seemingly beautiful characters appear “ugly” with over the top facial expressions, which made certain characters even more creepy and sinister, especially one woman in particular. 👀
The music in Paranormasight also deserves a special shoutout because it really brought everything together. From up beat, funky music for one set of characters to the haunting theme that plays for most of the story.
Another sidenote: This woman annoyed the hell outta me and had me STRESSED, but in a way that shows how well she was written as a character.
To conclude, Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo is FANTASTIC and severely underrated. I feel like if more people knew about this game they would definitely be down to playing it. From the music, to the visuals and story, I can guarantee you’ll fall in love with this spooky game and the characters within it.
It’ll have you on your toes for sure and you’ll be gasping as you unravel the plot bit by bit. The multiple endings is a nice touch, and I’m hoping there’s a sequel because that ending thoooo! I did kinda guess it, but it also left me wanting more as there are still some questions left unanswered! Well done Square Enix, this is a solid addition to your game list!
And if you’re still curious about the game then I’ve posted the first forty minutes of the opening on my youtube channel!