Higurashi When They Cry - Ch.1 Onikakushi

Higurashi When They Cry - Ch.1 Onikakushi is a great update to an already engaging first entry into the world of Hinamizawa.

By Artemis, Posted 01 Jun 2015

How do you even describe a game like Higurashi without talking about its history? The visual novels themselves have been out since 2002, but the game has seen a lot of fan updates and semi-official updates that have never been put into full effect until now. The best way to describe this is as an unofficial remake for those who had never gotten into the franchise before. In the meantime, the series has had an anime, manga and other merchandise that has made it a household name for those who are very familiar with anime, or just visual novel games in general. For those who haven't heard of this, though, Higurashi When They Cry - Ch.1 Onikakushi, is a great way to start out the series and to get into the franchise at its original source.

07th Expansion originally drew all of the art of the characters of Higurashi and while he did try, they were, quite frankly, awful. But not everyone can draw, and luckily there have been updated sprites that you can switch on and off at your leisure. For anyone who just wants better art, the best mode of action would be to turn on these new sprites rather than dealing with the old ones. The background art is nice and while it is a little blurry because it's just supposed to be the backdrop to where they characters are it is still nice to look at during the very long dialogue sequences.

Higurashi conversation

Higurashi is a visual novel, which means there isn't a lot of gameplay but a lot of reading. This is a niche genre for a reason, not everybody likes to click endlessly through dialogue, but this game is one of the better examples of visual novels, because it does give you some choices and keeps you entertained rather than boring you with mundane conversations all the time. There will be times where you are given fairly relaxed conversations between schoolmates, but those conversations don't always stay the same tone, which means you'll be treated to some humorous moments and general character bonding activities, like eating lunch together or learning math.

What makes Higurashi When They Cry - Ch.1 Onikakushi special is the fact that it doesn't stay very nice for very long. You play Keiichi Maebara who just transferred to Hinamizawa from the city, and the first pieces of dialogue he says may turn you completely off his character. The game confusingly starts out in a sort of future past, him recalling what happened before the events of his little monologue which is played over the sound of squishing and cracking body parts in the background.

Higurashi angry girl

In case you didn't know by the description, Higurashi When They Cry - Ch.1 Onikakushi is a horror game and it is the most deceptively packaged horror game you will ever see. After that traumatizing moment you immediately go to the past where Keiichi is just waking up for another day at school. From there we are introduced to his entire group of friends, all of which play a part in the events to come later on in the story. A tale of lies, deceit, gore, murder, body horror, and nightmare fuel inducing stuff all placed under the clever guise of cute girls being friends with a guy who acts like a jerk. The tone of the game shifts constantly, always keeping you on edge. You never know when a conversation will devolve into zany antics or downright sinister threats. You couldn't tell by the art style, and you'd think this was just a silly romance game, but it's not; this game is there to mess with you when you're clicking through the dialogue.

At first, you may not like Keiichi, and it's not really surprising since he does come off as a jerk to his friends and everyone around him. The game actually mentions this, but it is enough to turn you off as the character you're playing as. He gets better as time goes on, though, which is great because you need to have some sympathy for the guy, especially during this first game since you'll be playing as him for four more games.

Now, the writing in this one isn't nearly as solid as the writing in the other chapters of the series. You can tell that this was a first attempt, and while it isn't bad and does a wonderful job building up tension, there are a few flubs here and there that make you chuckle far more than be afraid. This isn't as much of a problem later on, but when the writing of a horror game gets a little laughable in the scarier parts then you may need to rethink how you write your horror game.

Higurashi monologue

A good thing about this is that the translations in this are a lot better than they were originally, so there aren't as many cringe worthy moments with awful grammar. That and the updates to the Steam release help any sort of small issue there is to the dialogue that one might find. The developer is willing to talk to the community when they find tiny bugs or errors, which is good because a game from 2002 making a transition to being a game of 2015 is rough.

The sound design in this game ranges from cringe worthy during some of the musical segments, to absolutely brilliant when things get tense. When things get tense in this, the music just stops and all you can hear are the cicadas and those moments are absolutely beautiful. The rest of the music in the game ranges from great to absolutely teeth-grindingly annoying, and having less of it would have been nice to say the very least. While it does add to the atmosphere of each scene very well, it doesn't mean you'll want to hear it on loop forever.

Higurashi When They Cry - Ch.1 Onikakushi is a great update to an already engaging first entry into the world of Hinamizawa. While it does seem dated in a few areas, it still holds up fairly well to the standards of visual novels of today. It should be interesting to see the further entries into the Higurashi franchise when they come out on Steam.

Angelina Bonilla, NoobFeed (@Twitter)

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): MangaGamer
Developer(s): 07th Expansion
Genres: Interactive Cinema
Themes: Horror
Release Date: 2015-05-15

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