I find it extremely difficult to talk about Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo. The horror-tinged occult mystery visual novel is one of my favorite games of the year, but explaining what makes it so special inherently takes away some of its strength. It is a title that lives and dies on its novelty, and mentioning any of its most compelling twists robs it of its potent ability to surprise.
Luckily, novelty is not the only thing Paranormasight has to offer. In addition to being a twisty, exciting mystery, it's also just a generally good experience, one that's perfect for these chilly late-October days.
Paranormasight takes place in the 1980s in Sumida City, a real part of Tokyo. I'm always charmed by video games that take place in fictionalized versions of real locations, like last year's melancholic and beautiful Norco.
Norco exaggerated the tensions present in the real Norco, Louisiana, to create a science-fiction dystopia. This world is true to its real-life counterpart even when it doesn't form a 1:1 reconstruction. Paranormasight, on the other hand, seems focused on sincerely informing players about the actual Sumida City. According to publisher Square Enix, Paranormasight was developed with direct input from the Sumida City Tourism Division, and it's evident in the amount of Sumida's culture and history represented in the game.
The player is given a file folder with information on the case they're attempting to solve that includes character biographies, summaries of important events, descriptions of items and other generally useful things. Occasionally, the player is also given a file that outlines the history of one specific part of Sumida City. I've never been to Japan, and I don't have a comprehensive knowledge of Sumida City's history, but the information seems fairly thorough and accurate.
Paranormasight is not just a dry account of Sumida City's history, though. All that information only serves to enhance the eerie, off-putting tone of the rest of the game. The characters, designed by longtime "Kingdom Hearts" character artist Gen Kobayashi, are drawn with harsh lines that are both appealing and a little threatening. Those characters — who are all illustrated in 2D — are sometimes placed in pseudo-3D environments, creating a pleasant but unnerving effect.
The game's music is composed by Hidenori Iwasaki. Last year, he also worked on the incredible Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin soundtrack. Iwasaki's composition is sometimes bouncy and energetic, sometimes spooky, sometimes gentle and always extremely compelling.
All of these brilliant components are, of course, still in service of the game's spooky central mystery, which I'm still hesitant to talk about. But, if you're in the market for something gripping and just a little spooky this late Halloween season, Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo won't disappoint.
Sorrel Kerr-Jung is a junior studying virtual reality game development at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Sorrel by tweeting her at @sorrelquest.