Calling First Impressions
The only thing that isn't silent is our cell phone in this Japanese survival horror game from Hudson.
It's tough to get in the mood and feel scared when you're watching a demo in a room full of game journalists, but Calling on the Nintendo Wii can leave some twisted images in your head even after the lights come on. At Hudson's press event in San Francisco, we watched as director Kazufumi Shimizu walked us through one of the levels of the survival horror game that relies heavily on the unique properties of the Wii Remote. The level we saw took us through a dark and seemingly deserted Japanese school, but we quickly learned that it was not entirely unoccupied.
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Calling revolves around something known as "The Black Page," an ink-black Web site that has a constantly updated hit counter. The rumor is that if you see "something," you will eventually die, and your death will be added to the counter. As the main character, you're trapped in this so-called Black Page, a world that sits in between life and death. That's all we know for now in terms of the story, but the demo did give us an idea of how the game plays out and how the controls work.
Using the remote, you can point and click around the screen while using the analog stick to move your character. The cursor will change to a hand, a magnifying glass, or an eye if there is something to interact with or look at. Shimizu described the game as an adventure, and it focuses a lot on exploration, finding clues, and figuring out what to do, instead of fending off ghosts with a bat. Cell phones seem to be the theme of Calling, as we quickly stumbled upon a very girly-looking cell phone that rang constantly. It's chilling enough to walk through the still, abandoned, and unlit halls of the school and then have a cell phone go off to break the tension, but when you answer it, an incredibly creepy voice will come out of the remote to tell you where to go. It seems that the owner of the phone wants you to bring it back to her, and while common sense tells you to run the other way, there's really no option but to follow the disembodied voice and obey.
After exploring more of the school and encountering ghosts that appear, and then disappear, only to reappear again right in front of you, you'll eventually meet the owner of the cell phone, and she latches onto you like a rabid dog. You need to shake the remote to get her off and get out of there as quickly as possible. The screen starts to turn red when you're being attacked, and a display that looks like your heart rate appears at the top as well. Because the adventure is primarily based around exploration, there isn't much you can do at this point but keep running and find ways to piece together the whole mystery so you can find a way to be sane again. Other than trying to keep it together and push forward, there are clues to be found and puzzles that need to be solved in order to progress through the game.
We're curious to see what else lies within the halls of the school, so we'll be sure to keep you updated with more information as soon as it becomes available. Keep an eye out for Calling when it is released in March 2010.
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