Released in 2017, Spirit Hunter: Death Mark is a first-person visual novel that follows an amnesiac protagonist who must eliminate spirits in order to get rid of his deadly mark. It’s the first entry in the Spirit Hunter series and available on the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Windows.
Set in H City, Tokyo – Spirit Hunter: Death Mark follows a man who discovers that he has lost his memory and it’s due to a mysterious mark on his arm. The scar is called the Mark and is caused by curses or contact with a ghost that will lead to the bearer’s death at dawn. He loses his bearings and ends up at Kujou Mansion seeking help – only to find that the owner, Saya Kujou, is dead.
The protagonist is devastated by learning this but he is sooned helped by Saya’s helper – a mysterious doll named Mary. He soons gains her help, along with other Mark bearers, and begins finding spirits and eliminating them in order to stop the curse.
Spirit Hunter: Death Mark is a visual novel with some battle and investigation elements. You explore certain areas to investigate and interact with objects in the environment. After piecing together the case, you decide on a partner to help you to confront the spirit. You have to fight them through meticulous methods and decide whether or not to save them or destroy them.
The aesthetic is terrifying in this game – sadly only at times. A few of the cases are incredibly frightening and will leave you thinking about the game after it ends. However, there are a few that just drag and the pacing is killed by convenience.
Shimi-O and Miss Zoo cases were too long and not as effective as the others. These are the two that led you having to return to the mansion most of the time and completely break the pace. Swapping out partners for certain moments definitely kills the atmosphere. Not to mention the needless oversexual scenes that again take you out of the story and back into reality.
Despite this and the awkwardness of the map, Spirit Hunter: Death Mark is a scary title. The music by Naoaki Jimbo fits the mood completely. From the intense music in the mansion to the creepy music at the cases, show that sound is clearly important.
It’s a great visual novel with some unique twists and generally haunting moments – but it’s let down a little by the padding in cases. Don’t let that put you off, as Spirit Hunter: Death Mark is a visual novel that you don’t want to miss out on.
Words by Charlie Vogelsang
Copyright: Experience/Aksys Games