I am generally intrigued by the concept of video games that cause real world danger. The reason why is because there is already a sense of curiosity and intrigue when playing a new game for the first time and discovering more about it. When you use someone’s unfamiliarity with a video game against them by putting them up against a game that hurts them in the real world, there is a sense of horror that most gamers can relate to.
As a result, I became rather curious about BAD END (yes it is spelled with all caps) when I stumbled upon its Steam page. The premise of BAD END basically comes down to “what if there was a visual novel that killed you in real life if you make the wrong decision?” Of course, such a game would be impossible to make, so closest choice was to make a game about someone playing the game in question. What makes this even more confusing is that BAD END is the title of both the game you are reading, and the game in the story.
The main character is Kyuuhei Inu, a high school student whose best friend Yuuji is killed as a result of playing the aforementioned BAD END game. As a result of his grief, he becomes obsessed with trying to figure out the truth of this game and to get his hands on it. Once he does, the game in question tells a story about a girl named Kouko and her friend Hana, who are both being stalked by a demonic shadow being. The idea of having two stories play out over the course of the game is an interesting approach, and it becomes even more compelling when the two stories start to converge with each other. The story in general has an air of suspense and eeriness to it that is consistent throughout the game.
In order to address the obvious elephant in the room, yes this game does have a lot in common with a lot of gaming based creepypastas. However, BAD END is a game that does this type of story correctly and is far better written. Granted, there are still some moments in the game that can come across as campy or overdone, but there was also a greater sense of originality to this game. There is no overabundance of blood or gore and there is actually an explanation given for why and how the game exists, unlike most gaming creepypastas.
Story wise, there are 14 different endings to BAD END; 13 of which have Kyuuhei killed and the 14th being the real ending where everything is resolved. Unfortunately, for a game titled “BAD END” the bad endings in this game are not all that interesting and don’t add much to the story. This means there is not much replay value after you get the true ending
The game’s art style is decent and is fairly effective, but it is nothing special either. It looks the same as every other Ren’Py visual novel; same goes for the sound effects. This game also retains the ability to save at any point, scroll back through text you’ve already seen, and to skip text you’ve already read, so there are no problems there. The music is very atmospheric and is memorable in its own right as well. The soundtrack is definitely one of the game’s greater strengths.
There is not much for me to really say about BAD END. The game does have a fairly engaging storyline, but the characters themselves are rather generic and there wasn’t really any specific moment that legitimately scarred. However, the game was paced well enough that any of the weaker elements did not bother me. BAD END is far from a horror masterpiece, but it is entertaining if you are a fan of the creepypastas. BAD END costs only $2.00 at full price, which is a fair price for a game that should take two to three hours to complete. I guess you can say that BAD END… didn’t end up too bad.
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