Halloween is here and, for the occasion, I’ve decided to delve into a Japanese indie title that takes a rather different approach to presenting a horror tale. Hello? Hell… o? (もしも死ねぇ in Japanese) is the creative result, created by Ryuuichi Tachibana with RPG Maker VX Ace. In this game you play as either Kazuki or Akari, a couple currently in a strained relationship, in a small room where strange happenings occur.
Warning — Exploring this strange room will give you the ending titled In-Game Spoilers. Play at your own risk.
Hello? Hell… o? is truly unlike any other RPG Maker game out there. There’s no inventory, no terrifying place to explore or escape from and absolutely no direction in terms of any sort of objective. You simply explore a single small room, examining objects and acquiring endings. As you play, you switch between Kazuki or Akari and the change is denoted by the overall room theme.
There are well over 30 endings, which can be unlocked from simple actions like drinking the wine bottle, answering the phone or going to sleep. Other endings are a little more complex and involves the player completing actions after certain events occur, like fleeing the room while the phone is ringing or checking a mirror only after it moves.
While these actions may seem arbitrary and even pointless early on in the game, each ending slowly reveals more and more information about the plot. The room slightly changes its form every time you restart the game (or switches to a different design when you play as the other character), giving access to different endings. The title screen also displays a new message every time the game resets after an ending.
Once the story really begins to unfold, you’re bombarded by sudden “Eureka!” moments stemming from the surprise twists and turns revealed during the game’s course. After a certain point, you’ll also start to unlock some of the final endings — five bad endings, one happy ending and the true ending that resolves the game.
The horror essence is derived from the lonely and oppressive atmosphere established by the lighting, lack of music that amplifies the sound effects and occasionally moving objects. There are also jump scares peppered throughout the game, but done so infrequently that it creates a certain tenseness that really adds to the fright.
Overall, Hello? Hell… o? is a supremely unique title that takes an interesting approach to the horror genre, especially for the JRPG saturated RPG Maker subculture. It may seem slow and strange at first, but the title soon reveals itself to be worth the investment. You can download the game and RPG Maker VX Ace here, with the same site containing a guide to unlocking all the endings.
For even more great titles, check out more of the best Japanese indie games you’ve never played.