Review by 1983guy
Best survival horror of 2005
If you ask most people what was the best survival horror game of 2005 they will most likely say Resident Evil 4. And while it was a good action game with horror themes, it wasn't true to the genre. Fatal Frame III also came out that same year and while it was very good the title of best survival horror would go to Haunting Ground.
Not surprisingly this game was made by Capcom, who are well known for their survival horror titles such as Resident Evil and Dino Crisis. But, Capcom had acquired the Clock Tower license some years before and published a game called Clock Tower 3. This game is the spiritual sequel to CT3 and it is easy to see the similarities between the two.
The story of the game is nothing too special, just a young girl who wakes after a horrible car crash to find herself in an unfamiliar castle. There are deranged "servants" in the castle who don't seem to want her to leave...
There is little combat to speak of in this game. The goal is not to fight your pursuers but to evade them and hide. You're able to hide in various locations but don't hide there too often because the enemies will figure it out sooner or later. This is basically the same blue print used by CT3 except this time around you're given a little help by a dog that befriends our main character, Fiona.
Hewie, the dog, is able to take commands given to him and help our damsel by fighting off enemies to give you enough time to get away. There are puzzles to solve, though none are all that difficult. But, it's not always so easy to just run away as you can fall into a panic mode. The more panic Fiona has, the more difficulty she has trying to run. The screen becomes blurry and it is very difficult to control Fiona...making it easy to get caught. Besides your dog companion, there aren't any other characters in the game (besides the enemies of course) so you will always be alone.
Graphically the game is top notch. I'm not sure what kind of budget it had, probably not a very large one, but the Capcom staff did a great job this time around. The castle has a very depressing and spooky atmosphere that adds to the tension of the game.
As usual for a Capcom game the control is excellent and is simple and easy to pick up, won't be much of a learning curve.
With survival horror games practically dying out these days, Haunting Ground is a great game to track down and try out. There's plenty of suspense and atmosphere, a feeling of helplessness against overwhelming odds, puzzles to solve...everything a great survival horror game needs. Capcom seems to have gone the action route with other survival horrors, but at least with Haunting Ground they got it right.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Haunting Ground (US, 05/10/05)
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