Nanashi no Game (The Game Without a Name) begins with a conversation about a cursed game that brings death to the players. It’s a warning, but that the protagonist (read: you) don’t care about. The next thing you do is play the 8-bit cursed RPG during school. There aren’t any battles to fight, yet (?). You’re stuck in a town where the villagers aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. One neat element is the cursed game breaks the fourth wall with false glitches. When you take a step pixels shake giving players unsettling feeling. After you speak to a woman trapped in a locked room a gate opens, but when you leave you return to the real world where you are a student sitting in school.
The teacher isn’t happy that you’re playing games in class. She chastises you before you search for your friend who hasn't shown up to school. During the dialogue sequence character portraits appear on the left side of the screen and they are 3D models. Usually, games use 2D models so I presume this was a development choice to distinguish that the 3D humans are “real” people. Walking in the real world also takes place in the third dimension. You hold the stylus in the center of the touch screen to walk forward and slide it in a different direction to turn. In the Nintendo DS demo the main character walks slowly, just as slow as the flash demo. I really hope you don’t have to run from any gamers turned into zombies because the protagonist doesn’t have a chance to escape.
When you get to the home the door is locked, but sporadically opens after the failed attempt to open it. You're beckoned to explore. The empty house is dark with wooden boards blocking sunlight coming from the windows. Trash bags lie on the ground. Empty cups of instant noodles litter the counter. I turned the TV on expecting something to come out and scare me, but all I saw was static. What to do? Maybe enter the cursed game?
You can turn on the “TS” system (hahaha) and open the console at anytime. However, the only option available was to play the cursed game. Well, you can change the brightness too with the icon on the bottom left hand corner, which really works. Unfortunately, the main character can’t use his TS as a makeshift flashlight. Nothing was happening in the cursed world. All you could see was an empty blue bench next to the edge of a cliff.
Back in the real world the sound of a washing machine prompted me to explore the bathroom. The sink has a red substance in it, which could be blocky blood. The bathtub was overflowing with water and the toilet looks like it hasn’t been cleaned for months. Nothing jumps out here. Square Enix doesn’t even try a shock scare with a loud noise… yet. In the closet I followed a trail of blood to a broken mirror which immediately cracked into pieces with a loud sound when I approached it.
The next room was shrouded in darkness except for a light pointing to a crayon drawing of a girl. Was it made by your friend? A beeping sound rings, which prompts players to turn on the cursed game. The once lively town is empty. Where did everyone go? The gate blocked by two of the older residents is opened and there is some kind of ritual. Most of the villagers don’t speak, but one says the first two katakana of your friend’s name. “Ota..” Back in town a ghastly grey figure appears next to the center well and the demo ends…
Images courtesy of Square Enix.