One of the greatest plot devices the horror genre ever created was the ability to hide the most frightening things, and still find ways to make you afraid of them. Like the fog from Silent Hill, the freeware RPG Grave Spirit slowly creeps into the freeware scene, and it may truly stay around for quite some time, even though it has some inner monsters. This game will cause a few shaky heads, as people will wonder why the commercial industry has not yet leaped onto the idea of a horror RPG, because this game has a priceless idea, and it works well. Grave Spirit is not a perfect game, but it is the first horror RPG I have ever seen, and it deserves a good look and a sporting chance.
A dark spirit has taken over your body and your soul. He seeks revenge, and until his thirst for blood is satisfied, he will not release his hold on you. You must journey through lost lands to a fortress, to take down its evil king. Beware though, as the Lost Lands have other great evils lurking in their shadows. The fog slowly slides through the nooks and crannies, adding power to the evil, and releasing a pure stream of unsettling chaos into the wastelands. But you must face the evil down, face to face, if you are to break the curse set on you by a vengeful spirit. By a Grave Spirit.
Don’t expect any extremely new ideas in this game. The biggest thing it has going for it is its extremely unsettling art style, and its interesting story. I’ll say it right up front. I found the puzzles in this game to be too easy. The biggest challenge was fighting the urge to want to escape the dungeons and graveyards quickly, as the air about the places you visit in this game is extremely unsettling. There are a few sparks of innovation in this game however, though you no sooner receive these abilities, then you use them once and never see them again. The first ability you receive is the ability to control a white bird. The white birds are good spirits, and the black birds are spirits of evil. Very Ico. The white bird is not used very often, and I was looking forward to discovering birds with other powers, but that never happened. I do hope that this is how the author wanted it, and if so I respect that, even though I feel this mechanic was used poorly. The same goes for the Ghostly Skull, which opens stone doors, even though I never used it once in the game, from the time I got it to the end. The biggest gameplay element in the game is collecting coins, which can be used to buy important items from the faceless men hiding in the dens. Your first weapon is attained this way, and it is basically the only thing you use frequently in the entire game. A couple puzzles did stump me in the first dungeon, but after that I found myself breezing through the game. Most of the bosses provided considerable challenge however, even though the only reason you have to fight them is to escape their dungeons. The save points in the game are really well done however. Unlike most games, the save points are so creepy, that you actually feel less safe when you use them. On top of that, the music that plays when you do use them is...nonetheless, probably the creepiest thing in the game.
Now for the game’s biggest redeeming factor. This part of the game is so well made that you probably will not even notice the problems the game does have. I hate it when I have to be harsh on a game, but now I don’t have to be anymore, because the best parts of the game, the art style and the music, are what I will discuss next. The art style in this game is a mix of Ico, and Silent Hill, but without ripping either one off. You’ll find the foggy lands inhabited by dried grass, and dusty roads to be quite creepy, but just wait until you enter a dungeon. The rusty and bloody walls, and the grated floors all give you an extremely unsettling feeling. The marshy swamps and huge castles are no less scary as well. There are many places to visit in this game, and they are very well made. I am almost glad now that the puzzles were so easy to get by, so as I could see these creepy places one after the other, with no hassle. The art style of this game is amazing, and like games such as American Mcgee’s Alice, it takes precedent over the more average gameplay. The music is also quite amazing. It’s a mix of demented lullabies and deep throaty demonic whispers that makes your stomach churn. The sound effect are all quite unsettling, from the caw caw of a black bird, to the evil demonic laughter of a boss. The art style and the music will send you into the game with no hope of turning back, and no real desire to.
Even though Grave Spirit is not perfect, it is still a great game in the RPG genre. It may be a bit overhyped, but I personally think that, for what it tries to give, it doesn’t really disappoint, and I loved every minute of it when I was playing it, even though it was also an unsettling experience. Did I mention the game is unsettling? Did I also say how creepy it is? No? Oh YEAH RIGHT! I mean, this game slips through Ico, to Silent hill, to even a bit of Legend of Zelda near the end. It’s a great combination of ideas, and it works great. I feel bad that I decided on a score of four carrots for this game, but it’s all I can give. I’m sure you can think of a better score when you play it for yourself, so have a great time, and try not to wet yourself.
Review by: Secret Fawful