The first Grudge movie was one of the scariest movies I have ever seen (as a kid, at least). The guttural groan, the long black hair, and somehow being in every place you wouldn’t want her to be made her the stuff of nightmares. Her little cat brother is weird, but he can be spooky too. I was not expecting a wonderful time with the Grudge, but maybe a good scare or two. With it being a movie related game it wast really bad. The controls could be kind of wonky, the graphics a bit stale, and the fact that none of it is canon bothers me, but it was still a fun horror game.
Upon starting the game, you get a cool Full Motion Video of the actual house they filmed at and a live interaction with the Grudge herself, then you get the definition of the Ju-on Grudge:
‘The name given to curses born from the intense hatred of those who die by violence. Any who come in contact with one of these grudges are doomed to die along with those they hold dear.’
You don’t really get to see too many actual FMV in Video Games so I appreciated it, even if it didn’t have Sarah Michelle Gellar. From there, you see the title Ju-on: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator. Bold move when you only are in a haunted house about half the time and the other half in some sort of facility.
Once you get past the video and intro, you are put to a screen where you can either start the game or do the Courage Test. The Courage Test is nothing more than you saying your gender and Zodiac symbol and playing through the first mission. I would completely disregard it unless you want some funny comments made about you like ‘Male Pisces don’t have the courage to play the Grudge, go do something else’. Assholes.
So once you actually start the game you choose the only mission you can, the first of four unless you can find the collectible fragments to unlock the 5th one, you are given a short narrative of the person you are playing as, a young child named Erika. She is taking the dog on a walk and runs into an abandoned factory, where the dog rushes in and you must go find it. You are then placed in a first person view with nothing but a flashlight and your wits as you must rescue the lone pup. As you start using the Wiimote to move around, you can already see problems, the flashlight cursor will get caught up in the corners of the screens at random times and don’t respond well if you move too fast or too slow, even if you have the Motion Sensor Plus. So you have to move at a semi-slow and constant speed across the screen, which almost takes you out of the atmosphere because you have to pay so much attention to your handling of the Wiimote.
Speaking of atmosphere, I feel Ju-on does a great job of setting it up and placing you in it despite controller issues. I am thoroughly creeped out as I go through the locations and encounter the Grudge and her brother in tiny jump scares or the more scary button mashing sequences where you have to shake the Wiimote or press a button rapidly to get away. Once you can get over the spooks and learn the controls, your next goal is to work your way through the area and this goes for each of the missions after that. As you play through, you will see a battery icon on your bottom left which resembles the amount of light you have left in the flashlight (battery, duh). You will find a decent amount of spare batteries as you go through the levels, but you will realize that you cannot just stand in one place too long or dedicate too much time to exploring because batteries. So you are forced into action as you explore the areas and every room as quick as possible to find what you need to solve the puzzle that lies before you, whether it’s a locked door or an elevator with no power.
I would expect to die several times. The objectives and areas to go next are not easily hinted at, so trial and error are almost essential as you try to get out of wherever you are at. The items you can pick up have a twinkle to them much like in Resident Evil, which you can assume will be a battery or a puzzle piece.
There are 4 missions you get to play through in Ju-on: The Grudge, with a special 5th mission in the original cursed house, but I was tired of dealing with the camera getting caught and dying so I will have to take a pass on that for now, but it is incentive enough for me to come back. Apart from the Wiimote issue, my biggest complaint is that it doesn’t explain more about the characters and their interaction with the Grudge or even how they are connected. In the canon, you only get Grudge-d if you go to where they were killed or interact with someone who has got Grudge-d. The two particular Grudges in the game, both the Girl with the Hair and her Cat Brother, are from the cursed house that is tucked away in the game, so maybe more lore is there but I doubt it. I still had a pretty spooky time playing Ju-on, there are lots of jump scares and just super creepy moments as you encounter the duo, and for the price it at now (hopefully still dirt cheap), I would say it’s worth it!