In the “real world” you’re an anthropology student walking around a creepy apartment complex. While exploring the real world, Nanashi no Game: Me is played with the DS held in book mode. You move your character by holding the stylus in the middle of the screen. Dragging the stylus allows you to look and turn around.
Everything around you is quiet, except for a little atmospheric noise, until suddenly Nanashi no Game: Me attempts to jolt you with a loud cracking mirror, car horn or falling bicycle. These scares are cheap, but quite effective if you wear headphones. Turning the volume off sounds like an option. However, you need to listen for a haunting chiptune melody which leads players to TS consoles (haha, Square Enix) running the cursed game.
When you enter the cursed RPG, your buddy Yuuto runs into you and stabs your pixilated avatar with a knife. Red specks explode on the screen. Then he goes after Ren, your classmate. Both characters are left in a pool of 8-bit blood before the game clicks back to reality.
Somehow, you survive the attack, unscathed, in the real world. When you finally find Yuuto (or what’s left of him) he is hovering over a TS console. He crawls on the floor and lunges at you like a zombie. Things for the protagonist go from bad to worse when Yuuto’s data transfers to the player and a faceless girl rises from the TS, Ring-style, and curses you.
The curse spreads to your left eye (represented by the left screen) which now has the ability to see evil. Your eye blurs when ghosts are around, a sign that trouble is close. You’re toast if a ghost touches you.
You can’t really “fight” ghosts either. You have to run and the best way to do this is to use the D-pad to dash. But, what if all the doors are locked? Start searching for white hand prints with your left eye. When you see one of these tap where it would be on the right screen to enter the cursed RPG. While the game within a game is designed to look like a RPG, you don’t level up or grind by battling cursed monsters. Perhaps, it’s better described as a cursed RPG interface because Nanashi no Game: Me isn’t an RPG, it’s a horror adventure game.
Things you do in the cursed RPG affect the real world. In one area the cursed RPG is set in a prison where you have to sneak around zombie guards (a la Solid Snake) to reach the exit. If you get caught a loud splattering noise plays and you have to start over. Once you make it out a door in the real world unlocks.
Here’s another example of how the cursed RPG is integrated into the real world. One desolate town has ghosts act as sentries that prevent players from moving forward. You have to to get rid of the ghosts by entering the RPG and talking to a girl who drops flowers in the game. The flowers also appear in the real world, which force the ghosts to move and allow you to press on.
Nanashi no Game: Me introduces a new kind of game, a cursed platformer identified by a red mark. When you enter one of these you’re given a certain number of lives to run to an exit. Levels are filled with traps like pits and blades, but they look more menacing than they really are. If you happen to youch any of the razor sharp guillotine blades your 8-bit head falls off. That isn’t the only form of retro violence in the game either. One cutscene shows a character dragging two charred bodies around.
At the end of each day you have a chance to save the game and pick the next area to explore. Ren and your occult professor give you choices like exploring a karaoke club or a hotel. Both are eerie places at night. And that’s what Nanashi no Game: Me is about exploring eerie places and creeping the player out.