spirit hunter death mark ii review
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Review: Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II Is Gruesome and Great

Between its haunting and beautiful art, intriguing story, and easy play style, I’m honestly surprised that I didn’t know about the Spirit Hunter series until the recent English release of Death Mark II. Though not very long, the tight pacing and collection of scares make for a satisfying experience.

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The story of Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II follows protagonist Kazuo Yashiki. He is a specialist when it comes to dealing with hauntings. The headmaster of the esteemed Konoehara Academy hires him to investigate recurring rumors about a ghost called The Departed. The Departed leaves notices around the school, warning students that a spirit will target them. Those notices usually come true, with the warned student disappearing the next day. Yashiki, along with some of the student body and his Mark Bearer friends from the previous games, investigate these spirits. But just as he is pursuing The Departed, so too is The Departed pursuing him.

spirit hunter death mark ii exploration
Screenshot by Siliconera

While this is a direct sequel to the previous games in the series, I never felt lost while playing it. It explains past events and characters in a concise way, giving me enough information without bogging down the pacing. Since most of the game is a visual novel, with side-scrolling adventure elements when exploring, the plot is more important than the actual gameplay. Fortunately, the story is fairly interesting. All of the ghosts that The Departed warns about are based off of famous Japanese folk tales. For example, we’ve got Hanako-san and Kokkuri-san. I personally really liked that! I enjoyed seeing how the game puts its own spin on these stories and breathes new life into them.

When I say that Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II breathes new life into these classic horror stories, I mean it in multiple ways. For example, the first case focusing on Hanako-san really humanizes her. Who was Hanako, and why did she hate the world enough to linger as a spirit? Hanako-san is so ingrained in Japanese culture that most people likely aren’t scared of her. In Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II, though, Hanako-san isn’t just a girl in a toilet who’ll drag you down to hell, or make a lizard eat you. You find one of her victims in the toilet who died after Hanako made rubber hoses sprout from his eyes, pushing out his eyeballs (which you can still see clinging via the optic nerve).

spirit hunter death mark ii death scenes
Screenshot by Siliconera

Now, I’ve read and written my fair share of horror stories with that level of body horror. It’s one thing to read about it and imagine it in your head. It’s a whole other thing to see that image rendered with loving care on your Switch. I was really surprised! I had been under the impression that games on Nintendo devices are usually fairly family-friendly. Because of that preconception, you can imagine my surprise when I saw just how disgusting the bodies in this game look.

The art for the game is really something, between the beautiful shading and how visceral it is. The artist went hard on depicting the gruesome deaths, making you feel sorry for the victims even if some of them really deserved it. The balance of gore to body horror is fantastic. There isn’t a lot of blood, which could serve to censor the injuries. The art explains this way with items stuck inside the victims to staunch the flow of it. As someone who does enjoy body horror and guro, I found this balance to be artistic and I genuinely enjoyed feeling the initial rush of disgust. If you’re not someone who enjoys gore or body horror you can turn off a lot of the gore and jump scares from the settings. I myself turned off the jump scares because I’m not a fan of them.

spirit hunter death mark ii suspensive acts
Screenshot by Siliconera

While Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II was a great experience overall, I have to say that the exploration for the game sometimes was lacking. The environments aren’t too interesting to look at, which can make exploration a slog. I do have to say that I appreciate how the game lets you teleport back to the infirmary. That’s where you save or switch companions. I highly recommend going back every time you make progress! This is so that you don’t have to backtrack too much if you need to switch companions for a Suspensive Act. As well, for all I praised the story, I noticed that it dips in quality later on. The beginning chapters were just too strong. Part of this comes from pacing. It definitely feels like it should be a longer game and that they had to cut some stuff out.

Over the course of seven chapters, Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II spins a terrifying and intriguing yarn that leaves you wanting more. Even if you use its accessibility features to remove the gore or jump scare, it remains a suspenseful read. As a new fan of the series, I’d love to go back and see Yashiki and the other Mark Bearers’ previous adventures as I wait for the next installment.

Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II is readily available on the PS4, PS5, Windows PC, and NIntendo Switch.

Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II

Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II is a suspense-horror game set at a prestigious academy. When rumors circulate about supernatural occurrences at the famed Konoehara Academy in Tokyo’s H City, it’s up to the head of the Kujou family, also known as the “Spirit Doctor,” to take on the case. Switch version review. Review copy provided by company for testing purposes.

Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II is a gripping and gruesome read that leaves you wanting more.

Food for Thought:
  • I spent more time adding sugar to Yashiki's coffee than solving mysteries. The puzzles and such aren't too hard.
  • The game seems a little short for its price tag. I was surprised to see how much it is; I thought it would be half the price.
  • Take time to look for the lost souls because you seriously need sacred items during the latter half of the game. The Suspensive Acts get really punishing.

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Stephanie Liu
Stephanie is a senior writer who has been writing for games journalism and translating since 2020. After graduating with a BA in English and a Certificate in Creative Writing, she spent a few years teaching English and history before fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a writer. In terms of games, she loves RPGs, action-adventure, and visual novels. Aside from writing for Siliconera and Crunchyroll, she translates light novels, manga, and video games.