I have played some weird and wonderful games in my time, but Paper Ghost Stories: 7PM is up there as one of the strangest. After my first playthrough was cut inexplicably short, I was left confused. Furthermore, I genuinely thought I had completed the prologue, and expected the action to continue. However, a little research indicated that this is part of an anthology of horror tales from Cellar Vault Games. As such, these bitesize instalments are bitty and confusing, but undeniably captivating.
The episodic nature of the game reminded me of Tales from the Darkside. Consequently, you never quite know what will happen and you are always on the edge of your seat. What’s more, I expect there to be a blend of eclectic and unique characters for each iteration of this weird but haunting franchise.
Developed by Cellar Vault Games and published by Chorus Worldwide, this is an action-adventure horror title. Moreover, it comprises some visual novel mechanics and has an eerie and uncomfortable horror edge. On top of this, you’ll enjoy some meaningful dialogue where your choices matter. Yet, this short game will leave you wanting more. Subsequently, I hope the developers produce the next instalment ASAP.
Paper Ghost Stories: 7PM will make you scratch your head.
I usually don’t mind a strange and bizarre plot. But Paper Ghost Stories: 7PM takes the biscuit. Throughout each playthrough, I was left scratching my head. Not only is the story weird, but the dialogue flits between two languages, English and Malay, and this makes it tough to follow. Fortunately, though, it is translated, but it still impacts the gameplay. On top of this, the action is broken up as you switch between the 3 protagonists. This makes it tough to keep on top of things and adds another layer of confusion.
Now, it may seem like I’m complaining, but I’m not. Instead, this mysterious approach enhances the creepy and unnerving elements you’ll experience. You control Wen, Ming, and Lun as they “enjoy” the final days of the ghost festival. A new neighbour has moved into their block of flats, and the trio try to get to know them. However, little do they know that this interaction is the catalyst for the horrific encounters they are about to have. Yet, things aren’t as sinister as they seem, and the daunting and scary visions shared by the children may be more positive than they first appear.
Mini-games, exploration, and dialogue.
When a game is as short as this one, I didn’t expect it to pack in so much stuff. Yet, with mini-games, exploration, and meaningful dialogue, you have plenty of game-changing moments to experience. First, the mini-games focus on the residents of the block of flats. You are expected to pick locks, dish up food, and more. The tasks lack difficulty, but they are a welcome break from the eerie story. Alongside this, there is the opportunity to explore the small residential area. By doing this, you’ll complete quests, encounter those aforementioned mini-games, and see some grisly sights. For the most part, the exploration is a means to an end as it funnels the story to its odd conclusion.
Both the mini-games and exploration elements support the excellent dialogue mechanics. What’s more, this is where the visual novel moments come into effect. With some text-heavy scenes, the action occasionally feels voyeuristic. Yet, luckily, these feelings are few and far between, as you must select your answers and manipulate each conversation to your liking. This excellent approach ensures that each playthrough is unique while demanding you return to play again.
Paper Ghost Stories: 7PM looks incredible.
Aesthetically, Paper Ghost Stories: 7PM is unbelievably incredible. The combination of 2D character models and an isometric viewpoint was fascinating to look at. Furthermore, the use of sepia colours and claustrophobic spaces enhanced the eerie nature of the game. What’s more, the creepy images are sinister and petrifying. As such, you are on edge from start to finish. Then there is the easy-to-read text. With so much dialogue dominating proceedings, it would have been awful if it was hard to read. Consequently, the developers got this element just right.
What was also fantastic was the haunting audio. The authentic Asian music and the hard-hitting tunes combined create a scary and uncomfortable atmosphere. However, with a lack of acting, and limited sound effects, Paper Ghost Stories: 7PM was reliant on its creepy text and daunting setting.
An easy game to play.
Unlike many of its peers, this action-adventure game has undeniably simple controls. Effectively, you are required to move and complete some basic mini-games. As such, it was easy to play and simple to understand. Fortunately, the controls were responsive when needed and the button layout lacked complexity.
The short game time has to be my biggest complaint. Even with several playthroughs, you’ll experience a little over 3-4-hours of action. Now, I know this forms an anthology of stories, but I wanted much more. Thankfully, its meaningful dialogue choices had depth, as did the mini-games. Yet, I can’t help but think that it could have been longer.
Paper Ghost Stories: 7PM is a strange and short title.
Though I was disappointed by the short play time, I loved the weird and creepy nature of the plot. Its Malaysian roots and the cheeky protagonists add depth to this odd game. Moreover, the exceptional visuals and haunting audio make this little game a worthy investment. As such, I recommend that you buy it here! Will you uncover the mystery of the ghost festival? Talk to the locals, complete the mini-games, and escape each vision.