PARANORMASIGHT: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo – a hidden gem of 2023

PARANORMASIGHT: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo (PARANORMASIGHT hereafter) released on March 8, 2023 for Android, Apple and Windows devices in both Japanese and English. The Nintendo Switch version followed a day later, and it didn’t take long for it to become clear that this is a hidden gem of 2023.

It was a sudden release from Square Enix, hot on the heels of high-profile failures such as Babylon’s Fall and Forspoken — and it’s gratifying to see a surprise hit in the adventure genre, similar to how 2022’s The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story turned out well. It just goes to show that sometimes taking risks really pays off! This is not one to miss out on!

This write-up is spoiler-free since the game absolutely needs you to go into it blind to appreciate it fully.

Something special


It has not been since even if TEMPEST that I was as hooked to a game as this one. Much like that previous favourite, it took me less than two days to finish PARANORMASIGHT, as the game clocked in at about 10 hours — though this will of course depend on how quick a reader you are. It’s a masterfully woven tale that captures feelings of guilt, loss and regret in a story about a paranormal murder mystery.

You’ll follow multiple characters as storylines interweave. Initially, we follow Shogo Okiie, an everyday office worker who visits a park in the dead of night with their friend Yoko Fukunaga to investigate a notorious, local ghost story – the titular seven mysteries of Honjo. But they are not the only ones drawn out by the game’s setup. There are also two detectives who are investigating strange deaths in the local area, a high school girl looking into a close friend’s suicide and a mother in search of clues to her son’s disappearance.

A Rite of Resurrection is seemingly linked to this tale, and with that begs the question to all those involved: if you could bring someone back from the dead, would you do it, regardless of the sacrifices needed to do so?

Tempered expectations is the best way to approach this one


Despite appearing and sounding like quite a battle royale kind of thriller storyline, many of the initial selling points of PARANORMASIGHT are intended to pull you in before the game deviates in significant ways. The best example of this is how the strong start leans heavily into the horror aspect of it.

The camera during exploration time allows for 360 panning to allow for point-and-clicking of the entire environment, so long as interactive points are present, of course. The first-person perspective is anxiety-inducing as the earliest events unfold, but nothing like this hits again in quite the same way for the remainder of the game.

Instead, it takes a turn into a much more detective-heavy focus, losing the initial horror edge quickly as chapters become weighed down with info-dumping to explain and advance the more juicy plot-points. It is still excellent but may not be exactly what some would expect from its outward appearance alone – or maybe that was just me.

It’s also not all that much of a detective game when we consider the puzzles and problem-solving elements are actually few and far between. In fact there was only one instance where a puzzle completely stopped me in my tracks. It ended up that the game required me to utilise certain locations and trigger even more specific conversations between key characters to get the necessary pieces I needed to solve the puzzle. Other than that, most of the tests the game challenges you with are making sure that you are retaining story-relevant information to formulate the correct hypotheses that the other characters have.

An absolutely addictive mystery


Despite its minor flaws, PARANORMASIGHT is a must-play for many reasons. For one thing, its most focal characters are all as deep one other, with their own motivations and relevance to the story. Side characters have their own great reasons to fill up the roster, such as cop buddy Jun and his goofy self making for an unexpectedly comedic and light-hearted duo with Chief Inspector Tetsuo.

In fact, the details about the supernatural and folklore tales involved with the Rites are so in-depth that it is on a par with the ghost background stories from the Project Zero series. Furthermore, the atmosphere across the entire game is as immersive as it is penetrative, and its themes involving death, betrayal and revenge are certainly impactful. As a result, the twists and red herrings you will discover in the game based on every new bit of narrative are delightfully shocking each and every time.

So, while PARANORMASIGHT’s story itself is quite linear – bad endings come from making the wrong decisions in certain end chapters and these will typically be very short – the thrill of the ride itself is well worth experiencing. Getting the only good ending further challenges the player to discover the truth behind everything that is going on; a similar payoff to how GNOSIA played out.

It also is well worth mentioning just how amazing its presentation is. The visuals and overall style of PARANORMASIGHT is a true spectacle, capturing real world locations in a gorgeous art style that lends itself to the masterfully created character designs by The World Ends With You artist Gen Kobayashi. The sheer realism of it all perfectly captures the fact that this is our world, but with visitors from the other side being a constant possibility. Furthermore, the permanent 360 camera panning makes each and every location pop, allowing much more exploration than the standard visual novel gives you control of.

For such a spectacular, story rich experience for both the horror fan and detective pundit, the very cheap asking price for this experience makes this an easy one to recommend. I purchased it myself as soon as it became available on the Nintendo eShop and if I had waited any longer to play it then it would have been a disservice to myself as well as to the game. Look into it now on either Steam or the Nintendo Switch.

Join The Discussion

Rice Digital Discord
Rice Digital Twitter
Rice Digital Facebook

Or write us a letter for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page by clicking here!

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on them. This is at no additional cost to you and helps support Rice Digital!

Lilia Hellal
Spread the love!

Related post

This will close in 0 seconds