This is my first actual review on ReflectionGamer, and it’s not even of a AAA game. Hysteria Project is a game that was originally released for the iPhone and iTouch about a year ago, but just recently re-released as a PSP/PS3 mini for just under 2$. It is one of the only games that is entirely real footage; it’s more of a movie with a little dab of special effects than it is a video game.

The premise is interesting, to say the least. You watch a live-action cut scene, you come to a decision that the character has to make. Then the video cuts out and you’re given two (sometimes three) options to choose from. The movie then continues in the way that you chose. We see the entire world in first person, which is a nice effect. All this works on paper, and very well could work in a game, while but Hysteria Project starts off strong, it crashes very fast.

Likes:

The Atmosphere. Even when the game slows down and gets less and less interesting, the creepy forest that the main characters is running through sets a hopeless and dreary mood to the entire game. The building you start off in has a very “psychotic murder” feel to it; right off the bat, you feel in danger, you get the feeling you’re going to die if you don’t do something to escape. When you run outside and down the first path you see, you can feel the danger behind you. Glancing backwards and seeing the ghostly figure with a knife pursuing, you can’t help but be at least a little scared.

The Concept. Have you ever been watching a movie and right as the main character is about to walk into a trap, you yell “No, don’t do that!!” to the screen? In theory, Hysteria Project lets you live that fantasy out; literally controlling a movie. The live action shots that have multiple outcomes is a very smart and creative idea.

It Tried. The game really tried to be scary. It tried to be something new and different. I’ve seen a very small handful of games use live action scenes, but not a single one use them as the main gameplay. Hysteria Project tried to be something completely different, and for that, props.

Dislikes:

The Death of Immersion: The beginning scene gets your nerves on edge almost instantly. Your heart starts to beat faster and you begin to become the character, to fall into the game. Then, the screen fades and the game presents you with two options: “Search around” or “Try and loosen the ropes”. While it’s understandable that in this sort of game, we have to make choices about what will happen next, the way that the developers decided to go about that kills the mood entirely. If I was watching a movie, and every time the character had to choose between two paths and a giant bubble popped up that said “The Character is thinking, please wait.”, I’d walk out of the movie. The developers could have figured out a more creative way to go about making choices in the game, one that doesn’t involve killing the mood entirely.

Repetitive: The beginning choices given to you are very branched. You proceed on different path depending on how you choose. But, a mere five minutes (only three or so choices) into the game, you notice that when you make a wrong choice, you either die or are set in a infinite loop. When you get stuck in one of several infinite loops, you are made to watch the same scene over and over again until you either figure the puzzle out or you are allowed to proceed due to luck. The deaths endings aren’t even anything creative. I was given a choice to walk forward or walk to the left. When I chose forward, the game just gave me a game over sign, no explanation farther than “you noticed something was wrong”. Very uncreative on the developers part. The game makes you play like they want you to play, which defeats the purpose of this sort of game in the first place.

Quality of the Scenes. For a video game that is entirly real life footage, you would think that they could have invested in a better camera. Even the iPhone, which isn’t too much of a gaming system, can play back better quality video than what Hysteria Project uses. The videos are grainy and blurry, sometimes so much so that it’s hard to tell what is going on. This problem kills mood and makes the game suffer. The worst thing is, it was a very easily fixed problem. Had this game been higher quality, in terms of video, it would have been a much more immersive game.

Sound Problems. Maybe it was just me, but after a few minutes, I noticed a popping in my sound, which became very annoying; I was wearing headphones. I’ve no way of knowing if this is a problem with the game or my PSP, but either way, it detracted from the game.

As much fun as Hysteria Project could have been and as creative as the concept actually is, the game fails to be scary or fun past the first five minutes of “gameplay”. The breaks in the mood, the low quality videos and no fun re-playability all add up to a very mediocre game that could have been very fun.

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