Haunting Ground: Beauty vs. Beast in Monster-Puzzle Mash-up

This one’s a blast from the past folk’s, here’s a review I wrote three years ago. Haunting grounds is still worth a play if you’re into your horror games.
Far from your gore-filled cheap thrill horror, Haunting ground brings something a bit more fulfilling to the table.

You wake as Fiona Belli, a character with jigglenomics that sets the richtor scale off at 9.
Capcom, this much jiggle for one set of lovely-jubblies. Really?
She’s aided by one bamf of a German Sheppard, named Hewie,
(one of the only companions in a game to have neverflung me into bile fuelled rage.)
Together they must take down the three entities residing in Belli castle in order to survive.

Fans of the clocktower series will enjoy this.
Better than Forbidden Siren.
Not as good as Silent Hill 3.

By Who? Capcom
On What? Playstation 2
When? 2005

This is not a cheap quick time event type of horror. Much like Amnesia in the sense that combat really feels ineffective, Haunting Ground renders you helpless. The environment and narrative of this game is what makes it shine out of the pile of horror games that have little or no style. This game actively discourages combat in favour of fleeing, but it at least gives you the option to and in a way this makes the experience more controller-clutching. I hover on the edge of my sofa when flailing past an enemy. The combat element forces you to pay attention to what you’re facing rather than taking your chances closing your eyes and seeing if you can out-run it. Something Silent Hill: Shattered Memories failed to do. Fiona is about as effective as a gnat, but with the aid of some equippable boots she can issue out a few bruises to ankles here and there, but Hewie really comes into his own as your defender. I’ve not really come across a game that has displayed such an incredible mechanic for making you feel so dependent upon a companion AI. You can use Hewie to tank enemies down, but they always get back up. I always favour running in this game, as watching a dog getting the fluff kicked out of it is never on top of my list of things to do.

So, if you can’t fight, what can you do? Well, running only goes so far. You can however, hide. Under beds, in closets, etc. This option really adds to the fear-factor. Usually in 3rd person, the game switches to a first person viewpoint so you can watch your assailant’s search efforts for you. Creepy.

When faced with an enemy for too long, Fiona will freak out. The screen switches to black and white, flashes to a heartbeat. You will lose control and she will run hell for leather anywhere her feet will take her. Quite realistic, she’ll fall over and crawl if it all gets too much.

Enemies become increasingly smarter, rising through the ranks, and as such can learn where you hide. There’s nothing scarier than a realistic enemy. I discovered this after furtively hiding in a closet for what felt like the fifth time, when my all-time favourite person Daniella, drags me out from my cubby. That safe spot I’d found was no longer safe, and it’s made me a paranoid gamer ever since.

Released in 2005, for its time this game is visually impressive, and has some incredible costume design. Despite looking like it was made through a sepia-tinged lense, (this game is a sepia smorgasbord), if you can get past the poor English accents and somewhat dated appearance, this game is well worth the playthrough for the heart-pumping chase sequences.


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