Maker: Visualworks / Studio Mausu
For: iPhone / iPod Touch
Reviewing something slightly different this time. 3D Sound Horror Meijou is an iPhone app that is probably best described as a mix between and audio drama and a visual novel. It uses some visuals so it is not pure audio, but it isn't as elaborate as a visual novel either (to begin with there are no visuals for the characters). Just as the title implies, it is a horror story that uses the dummy head mic to create 3D sound effects. I guess it is mostly aimed at women, although this only becomes clear near the end of the story and I think you can enjoy the story no matter your gender.
Meijou tells the story of four friends who travel around looking for haunted spots. Chika (CV: Hayami Saori), the only girl in the group, has found an old letter that talks about a haunted cave. Enclosed with the letter was a small charm with a bell on it. The group decides to investigate this.
The story starts with the four of them arriving at the cave. It is raining outside, and while all of them find the atmosphere rather creepy they came here to investigate the cave so they enter it anyway. The cave seems to be made by human hands, and they discover something like a living room inside. But before they get chance to properly investigate an earthquake happens and the entrance collapses. To make things worse, their flashlight also stops working.
|Chika her phone|
As they venture further into the cave the calls continue and you can start to hear voices in them, and to make things worse the group ends up separated from each other and they have to try and find each other as well as the way out again. As you proceed it slowly starts to become clear what happened in the cave.
When the group finally manages to get together and find something like an exit near the end another earthquake happens, and a large rock falls down and all three guys reach out to you to save you. At this point you are presented with a choice: grab the hand of one the guys (you can pick who) or escape on your own. The ending differs depending on what you choose.
The story is split up into two apps, so to get the entire story you'll have to buy both. I think it is worth it though. Also: the app is compatible with both iPhones and iPods (and iPads) but because of the calls you receive I think listening to it on your phone has the best effect. Whenever you get a call the image on the screen switches to the standard call screen so it really looks like you are receiving a call, which adds to the creepiness .
Unfortunately the rest of the visuals are not that effective. Most of them are either to blurry or to dark to properly see what is pictured. Although I admit that the one where the ghosts try to grab Chika really freaked me out (especially because it moves). Still, the concept is interesting and I think the end result is pretty good.
The effect of the dummy head mic can't always be heard. When you are normally talking with everyone it isn't really noticeable, but you obviously do hear it when you are close to someone (like when they try to cheer Chika up or in some of the endings) and it was used pretty effectively during the calls and for some of the scare effects. Personally I like this balance, this way it feels special when it is used.
For those who are not that good with bad endings: rest assured, there is no real bad end. The main difference for the endings is who saves Chika and gets to be her main love interest. None of the endings show you getting together though, it is more like hinted at that there might be something there. There is only one ending where you unravel the entire story though.
When I listened to it I got the idea that there might be something between Yuuma and Chika, which was backed up by the fact that he is the one that stays with you when you pick the "escape on your own" option, but to my surprise it was not his ending that tells the entire story.
I don't really see why they split this thing into two apps though. It is not like it is that big as a whole either, so it feels sort of cheap to have us buy two apps to hear the entire story. Both apps together are still much cheaper than your average drama CD though, so in the end I was fine with the price. Something random that I noticed: when you first start the second app the music playing at the start screen is ominous. After you finished one of the endings however it switches to a more serene music.
This was a good story, it becomes less scary towards the end but I guess that is natural as you start to understand what is going on. While most of the visuals were not that special, they way they used the call- and message screens was super effective. After hearing more horror stories that make use of the dummy head mic I can only say that the dummy head almost seems to be made for this; there is nothing as scary as ghosts talking right next to your ear.