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After playing Clocktower 3 I thought I'd give Haunting Ground a go. I had a lot of issues with Clocktower 3 and hoped that this new game which shares many similarities with it would be a winner. I wasn't that wrong!
Fiona Belli wakes up in a bloodied butcher's room trapped inside a cage with only vague memories of a car crash that killed her parents and no memory of how she got there. Escaping the cage she rescues a white German Shepherd, Hewie but finds herself a captive inside a large castle. Together she and Hewie attempt to escape the castle. Along the way she meets various people who alternate between assisting her before trying to kill her to outright trying to kill her.
As the story progresses Fiona discovers a secret about her parentage, a secret that makes her realise why everyone in the castle is hell bent on capturing/killing/capturing and killing her.
The game takes place entirely in Belli castle and its grounds. Sometimes this can lead to trouble as games in a single location can make the map too small and thus repetative or far too big to be realistically set in a single environment. This is not the case with Belli castle and though the map does become quite large the more you explore, you are introduced to the different areas gradually in almost level format so I never found myself getting lost. The castle itself is very pretty and realistic and the environment certainly adds to the atmosphere and feel of the game.
Haunting Ground belongs to the type of Survival Horror games that place emphasis on survival rather than fighting your way out of monster infested locations. Fiona has no combat abilities. Instead the aim is to escape, elude and hide from your pursuers. Fiona can use tables, wardrobes and such the like to hide from an enemy or she can run and run and run until they get bored and wander off for a short spell, but she cannot end a confrontation through combat. Your faithful dog, Hewie, can be commanded to attack antagonists but this is a means of distraction to enable Fiona to escape or find a hiding place rather than a means of inflicting actual damage on an enemy.
The game relies on puzzles to progress with one enemy assailant pursuing you at any one time. A 'level' culminates in a boss fight during which you must solve a puzzle to defeat them. After that you have a blissful respite before the next person takes offence and gives chase. The puzzles are varied and interesting and indeed the only point of annoyance comes when you need to move between rooms to solve a puzzle and your current antagonist decides to make an appearence causing you to put puzzle on hold in favour of running like mad in the opposite direction.
The enemies can appear at any time and Fiona has a panic meter (so will you by the end of the game). If she gets too scared she'll go into full blown panic mode and start running and stumbling all over the place with you unable to control her. She does calm down after a while though at which point you can resume your frantic tirade of 'oh god where can I hide? Oh god why isn't there a wardrobe when I need it oh god oh god...'
I was pleasantly surprised by this game. When I saw the gameplay I thought oh no it's just another Clocktower during which you spend so much of your time running away from the enemy it is quite difficult to progress. But Fiona is actually capable of eluding her enemies, though this is definately a game for the patient player and not being able to outright confront your enemies can be difficult to get used to. That said the game creates an amazing atmosphere. Although the game is not actually that scary. It has an interesting storyline and the enemies are a little creepy but it is not outright terrifying. Instead the atmosphere creeps up on you. You'll be happily wandering around when you'll think you heard a door click and start worrying that an enemy has entered the area, or you'll stare at a door for ages not wanting to go through it in case something appears on the other side. On one occasion I did this the enemy got bored of waiting for me and just came through the door herself.
The story is different and there are a variety of different endings ranging from happy to sad to downright disturbing giving the game quite a bit of replay value. The endings are based on your actions through the game and your treatment of the various characters. Costumes can also be unlocked and what surprised me was what a massive effect the costumes had on the gameplay. In one of the costumes you have a gun and suddenly you are on a different playing field. No longer limited to running away from your pursuers you can just self righteously shoot them down and it really does give you a sense of power and completely changes the way in which you play the game.
I would thoroughly recommend this game to anyone who wanted a different kind of survival horror but not if you're the type of gamer who goes in guns blazing. Running away constantly is not everyone's cup of tea.
*also on ciao under username kayleaf*
I've always enjoyed games in the survival horror genre, despite them giving me countless nightmares when I was younger and I have to say this is one of the scariest. I can't pinpoint the scariest moments in these games exactly, whether it's the location, the environment, or how the controls change depending on the characters fear level. For those of you who aren't familiar with the survival horror genre Haunting Ground was originally designed to be Clock Tower 4 but became a game on it's own despite some very distinct similarities between this and the Clock Tower series.
The game is set in Belli Castle and it's grounds where it's heiress, Fiona, is being chased and hunted by the servants of the castle. There are no weapons and the enemies can't die so the object of the game is to run and hide until the enemies have left the area. Like I said, they can't die but there are certain times where you engage in a 'boss battle' where Fiona and her faithful companion, a dog, Hewie defeat them and then start getting chased by another enemy. There are a few minor enemies that can call the enemies to your location like the Luminescents and weird looking things (there's no way to really describe them although Wikipedia states they are similar to homunculi) that can't do any damage to you.
I like how unique this game is, where the character actually displays realistic fear. If she gets too scared she starts panicing putting you in panic mode where she stumbles, trips and the screen starts to saturate in colour. If you can get away from the enemy in time or find a hiding place panic mode will stop and the gameplay will go back to normal. It adds to the atmosphere of the game and in all fairness makes it really nerve racking to play.
The graphics are well styled considering it's a PS2 game, with realistic looking characters and a very nicely decorated castle. The game is quite dark in appearance adding to the 'haunting' element.
Because you can't really fight the enemies despite a few alchemically crafted items, kicks and bites it makes it worse. The game completely centres on the character evading attacks and getting away from the enemies and sometimes this can take longer than you'd like. However it makes a change from solving puzzles to get shiny new weapons and gives the game a real challenging aspect.
There are a few times when I had to throw the controller across the room at the risk of my TV in favour of hiding behind a pillow and it's one of the games I was far too scared to play in the dark but I think that's what makes it a great game. If a game can have that effect on you - make you think about them after and play on your mind then it's worth all the scares.
The game is rated 16+ and I would say this is a very fair age restriction due to the pyscological horror aspects and a few odd references that younger people might not be mature enough to understand. I was able to get this game for £10 from Amazon and it's not a game I'll be getting rid of or trying to trade in in a hurry!
If you played Clock Tower and remember all the running in amok because your character was unable to fight in any way then you will love Haunting Ground. With its astonishing graphic it lets you to control Fiona - girl who had an accident and wakes up in strange looking castle. But soon she realizes that castle she is not alone in it. Big idiot looking guy and later on wicked maid are trying to catch and eventually dispose of you.
The game is full of puzzles. As Fiona your only hope to avoid those freaks is to hide in various places and hope that they wont find you.
Game is full of additional surprises like mysteries, traps you can even find and free a dog to fight for you.
Game is rather difficult because it's very east to find and kill you, our guardian dog sometimes chooses not to obey and if scared enough Fiona can get some kinf of nervous breakdown which leave her vulnerable to all the attacks just because she's running like a blind, hitting walls, tripping and you are unable to control her for some time.
Anyway game is worth to try. Instead of shooting and stabbing zombies you can only run, hide and pray that the oppressors wont find you
With games like Resident Evil, horror survival games, in my opinion have taken a turn for the worse. Action depicts Gameplay meaning the horror aspect really has been taken out of the game; I mean what has happened to the original scary adventures such as Silent Hill and Project Zero?
I thought all was lost when quite by accident I stumbled upon Haunting Ground a Capcom release for 2005. Originally dubbed Demento, the name was changed for a US and Europe release and in fact was originally going to be the fourth instalment of the Clock Tower series, but again this was demolished. Curious but very critical I took it home expecting nothing more than your average action game that many Horror games have now become, the question is was I right?
The game itself starts off introducing main character Fiona Belli, wearing nothing but a silk quilt locked inside a rusty cage in a mouldy, blood fuelled butchers room. After escaping the room, it becomes apparent that the habitants of the castle, though very few are odd and behave very strangely.
The storyline in the game is at times very confusing but with a very peculiar tone that all explains itself the further you play. Flashbacks haunt Fiona as you move further through the castle where she suddenly realises she was involved in a car accident that had killed both her parents before she was abducted to the castle.
It later becomes apparent that Fiona is the keeper of the Azoth and Riccardo, butler to the castle, is the one in chase of her trying to hold her captive, rape her so she becomes pregnant and in turn gives birth to his heir so he can live on forever. So Fiona tries to escape the castle with the help of her only friend, Hewie a German- Shepherd dog who also was trapped and nearly slaughtered.
Though typical in terms of the way this genre usually pans out, the storyline is fantastic. It really is weird only giving you the slightest hints every now and again what really is happening and what events are yet to occur. It is very much like reading a book; you just cant stop playing to find out what is going to happen.
I must say however, for anyone who hasnt completed all of the game the storyline can be confusing and be considered very rough around the edges. Often seeming like it isnt very well explained at times or laid out to be honest. However, upon completion you finally see the story for what it is and you cant help feel fulfilled. It isnt your average horror story because it is so mysterious, just like how the original Silent Hill plays and although some may be a little obvious or predictable the rest really is enigmatic.
The cast of characters within Haunting Ground are especially top notch, obviously designed and created to appeal to Horror genre fans and to fit in with the secretive plot and mature and sinister castle setting. Fionas design works well for the main protagonist as she appears innocent, shy and easy scared. Her blonde hair mixes well with her porcelain skin and matches her timid personality. Although 18 years old and inexperienced, she is quite witty in some dialogue and you honestly care for her well being, which only draws you deeper into the game.
Hewie, Fionas body-dog, more than makes up for Fionas withdrawn persona, with a curious nose and rageful temper, he works well to create a more threatening plot. This is because it means Fiona really has nobody to talk to and she is purely on her own throughout the game.
Debilitas is a great character, used as the castles handyman he has the strength of a bear but the brain of a three year old and loves to play with dolls. He cannot speak apart from baby noises, but in the chase can be extremely terrifying. Daniella is also a brilliant habitant of the castle especially as a bad guy. She suffers from a condition that stops her from feeling any emotion, she cannot touch or feel and this works well within the game. Her blunt expression really sets off an awkward atmosphere especially when in conversation with the innocent Fiona. Lastly, Riccardo remains mysterious and in shadow most of the game usually covered in a hood, but his intentions are very interesting indeed.
Overall, Haunting Ground is excelled further by these great characters as they create the tension and frightening mood that this game throws at you the moment you start playing.
Visually, Haunting Ground never falters or lets the mood down with impressive FMV scenes and extraordinary grainy details that create a malicious and nasty setting. Shadows are brilliantly used to craft unusual shapes in certain rooms meaning no room ever looks the same despite the medieval surroundings. It is obvious that lots of time have been spent on the graphics to provide the atmosphere in the game using heavy detail on each individual item whether it is the wallpaper, the carpet, the flower vase or the alchemy equipment.
Character design is perfect, allowing every feature to be seen such as Delibitas fat torso or Daniellas menacing eyes. Skin pigmentation is used to create an even more horrific character design and blemishes and scars are noticeable without hard looking. Capcom have really outdone themselves, and perhaps is the best looking horror game I have every played.
When in Panic Mode (See further down), the graphics become even more intense, for instance if Fiona becomes increasingly scared the screen turn black and white and pulses with fear. If she becomes even more scared or frightened the screen starts to mix together making it hard to figure out where you are going or if there is any obstacles in the way. Its not just superb graphically, its excellent in terms of Gameplay also as it drags you into the game making you feel tense as you try to escape the enemy. The lighting effects that mix together are outstanding and should be applauded.
Animation has been well crafted also allowing handling items and performing actions to be easy but without glitch. When opening doors her hand actually grabs a hold of the handle without going through it and other objects are similarly used. Its great to see so much detail spent on the aspect of the game.
It isnt fully without glitch though, as on many occasions Fiona will simply walk through Hewie, which is very annoying but on the whole this obvious glitch doesnt ruin the experience or ruin the disturbing tone.
One of the most important features of a horror game is most definitely the sound not only does it provide the eerie atmosphere needed to scare its players but also to provide the tension and possibly frustration that every game provides. Haunting Ground does not let down thankfully.
Clanks, bangs, creaks and squeaks are piled in and erupted at exactly the right moment, it really does scare you and with the right settings i.e. TV volume, the noises itch right through you. It is really satisfying in fact to not want to go around the corner in case you run into something.
Musical instruments are used exceptionally well also to add to the slow paced atmosphere created within the game. High pitched out of tune violins create cringe worthy immediate responses and frantic piano notes cause the player to shudder instantly. It may not appeal to some but it really is done in a great way, avoiding all cheesy imitations that many horror films of today provide and no inclusion of tackiness either, Haunting Ground excels where some games do not.
I must say however I was in fact really dissatisfied with the voice acting, often dull and overused at times. Some characters voices are really annoying and it really puts a dampener on such a great game.
Cornelia Hayes O'Herlihy voices Fiona quite lamely actually and the personality Fiona emits really doesnt match the voice. OHerlihy tries Ill give her that but the innocence Fiona gives off isnt fulfilled by the voice and actually at times she speaks to softly resulting in a quietened moment. Sometimes it is a strain to hear what she says and with a storyline so confusing many players will simply give up.
Greg Ellis, a computer games voice actor King, again lets himself and the game down as butler, Riccardo. This voice in fact is too cheesy, the obvious gimmicky evil voice with overused malevolent laughs acts as a put off really. You would think with his experience from games such as Tomb Raider Legend, God of War and SOCOM II his acting would at least be reasonable, sadly it does not. Moira Quirk fairs no better with Daniella too with a dull expression
Another huge let down is the barking voice of Hewie. Being one of the most involved characters you would have thought developers would have spent as much time on the voices as well as the grainy graphics, but miserably they do not intensifying my disapproval towards Haunting Grounds voice acting. It simply sounds like one of those Mechanical back flipping dogs you can buy for a fiver off the market, with a monotonous motorized bark. I simply laughed the first time I heard it, it really is that bad.
Despite the awful voice theatricals the Gameplay within Haunting Ground is really a pick n mix that might not appeal to everyone. Unlike the action fuelled Uzis from Resident Evil or the hand pistols from Silent Hill, Haunting Ground has very limited weapons. No guns, no blades not even a camera that Project Zero fans will know so well. You cannot kill enemies simply by wielding a weapon, you just have to run and hide.
When meeting an enemy, Fiona can only save herself by escaping the chase each character gives, either by outrunning them or hiding from them. Beds, closets, curtains, rugs plus hundreds of other items are sneakily placed in each room to provide the cover needed. Mixed with the sound and the well placed heartbeats, hiding simply is a tense situation. The screen goes into first person perspective and sways from side to side giving a cornered view of the room youre hiding in. Watching the enemy try and find ripping the room apart is so nail biting its pure fun. And dont think hiding will mean success, enemy AI is so good eventually they will find you again meaning the chase will never end. Enemies become intelligent enough to see any patterns of hiding you have, so every single chase will need a different execution, its incredible!
Of course the lack of any action filled Gameplay will simply result in many players switching off and heading for their receipt, but to be honest its such a breath of fresh air to play a game with a little more style than substance and using your brain more than your guns simply is a great honour.
To combat this situation, Capcom has included an alchemy element to create a least another level of depth to the somewhat aloof Gameplay. However I love the hide and seek element and the alchemy aspect really isnt developed enough. By simply collecting medallions and mixing them with other materials, magical weapons can created to simply stun your enemies like exploding pouches and acid bomb, but simply no pattern is needed to create these items it simply is a matter of chance. You feel somewhat annoyed after collecting your hard earned medallions then for the production of making a weapon to fail. I suppose some people may find this element quite enjoyable, but it takes an element of the eeriness away.
Obviously, Hewie is available to help Fiona quite early on in the game, but he too can be hurt and killed. By training him and earning his trust ensures his help in any encounter with an enemy. By using the Right Analogue stick, commands such as sit, stay, praise and scold can create dramatic effect. This tamagotchi factor works quite well actually, though loborous at times. When in the midst of a chase shouting for Hewie to help when you havent spent the time to gain Hewies trust, he will simply ignore you and run off in the opposite direction leaving you to be cornered at a dead end by Delibitas.
The enemy AI really kicks in well again here though as after a while theyll wise up to Hewie and chase him into another room and then shut the door so he cant come to rescue you, it really is invigorating as every chase really IS different.
This is where we move on to Panic Mode, that really moves the game forward from your general run away from a baddie type of game. Haunting Ground really focuses on this and it executes in a fluid style meaning it is highly developed with no flaws. When an enemy continues to chase you, Fiona will start to get tired, even more scared and her tension increases, especially when you are in a part of the castle with no or limited hiding places. The screen will then start to flash, changing from colour to black and white and eventually flashing faster and faster until the screen mixes together making visibility hard and Fiona hard to manoeuvre. The controls become more awkward, Fiona will start to fall over all the time, take longer to turn around corners and her screams reverberate from the screen.
It really heightens your focus as the player meaning all the tension from the piano and Violins and the eerie mysteries of the plot come to a climax resulting in you yourself starting to panic and running around in despair. It is fun though, but disappointing when you get caught and die, but entertaining nonetheless.
Haunting Ground on the whole is a fantastic horror survival game that really uses the basic functions of a game to its advantage without taking away the necessities of what the horror genre is all about. The lack of any substantial weapons really works well and provides the scares and the pressure that recent horror games lack. The fixed camera abolishes any camera problems that other games suffer from also and the lack of a health bar really means you tend to make sure Fiona is all well.
The many cutscenes that appear throughout the game only work in the games favour as it surpasses the storyline further than your average teen horror and you really become involved with the characters and appreciate the decisions you make whether it be hiding behind the curtain from Daniella who is hysterically searching under the bed instead or whether it be taking a right instead of a left and running into a dead end with Hewie locked upstairs in the Kitchen leaving you alone.
The graininess and gritty effects only enhance the stunning visuals that the game offers more and with multiple endings, multiple bonus features such as easter eggs and costumes, Haunting Ground has tons of replay value. Despite the appalling voice acting and the lack of promotional advertising, its a real shame this game failed to sell well enough to get noticed as it really is such a quality game. One of the best Horror Games of recent years, Haunting Ground should be given a chance, whereas though the impatient may see a lifeless game here, the tolerant will see a deep, interesting, and stylish game at work.
Similar Titles: Project Zero / Forbidden Siren /
Players - 1
Memory Card - 197 KB
Online - No
Produced by Capcom
(as of 01/08/07)
Amazon.co.uk : £19.00
This is a bit of a mixture of a game, it has some really good points but it also has a couple of flaws that really detracts from the overall experience which basically leaves you with a very average product.
In the game you take on the role of Fiona Belli and you find yourself locked in a cage in the dungeon of a castle. The castle is in effect your inheritance following the death of your parents however the residents of the castle are quite keen to do away with you and keep the place for themselves so your objective is to escape and in your efforts you are supported by a German Shepherd dog called Hewie.
Visually this game is well set out and there is certainly an air of menace created within the game and a suspense filled atmosphere. All the characters are well set up and especially the dog that has some very realistic movements. Fiona has been designed with the male game playing member in mind as at the opening she is clad only in a sheet and she has a couple of prominent features.
As a character Fiona is not much of a fighter and in fact she is better at hiding so in this game you will have to engage the old grey matter to solve the puzzles and get out of the various traps that are set up for her. Running is the best option as she only has a rather weak kick and an even less effective push move in her offensive arsenal. Your main ally is Hewie and it is how you deploy him that has the most impact over whether you are successful or not.
For me the couple of flaws that let this game down can be found in the artificial intelligence of the game which can see you issuing orders that Hewie will choose to ignore for no obvious reason. Another fault is the fact that often your hiding place will be discovered for no obvious reason and this will se you having to repeat levels.
On the plus side the game scrolls from room to room and area to area really smoothly with no download time making the game play a smooth experience it is just a shame that there is nothing about this game that makes it stand out above the average.
You can buy this game for £24.99 new on Amazon or for as little as £6.98 in the new and used section.