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Horrific Xanatorium Review

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KEMCO have amassed an extensive catalogue of turn-based RPGs as a publisher, but one of the latest offerings is not like the rest at all.

Horrific Xanatorium, developed by Pageratta, is actually a horror visual novel set in a hospital during a global epidemic. Can Horrific Xanatorium deliver a healthy dose of horror as a cure for boredom, or is it so bad that it’ll scare off potential buyers?

Horrific Xanatorium review 1
A change of pace for KEMCO

Spiria, a mysterious new virus, has taken hold of the world in Horrific Xanatorium. Its symptoms include hallucinations and being rather delusional, before the host eventually turns into a monster. The protagonist, Rui, is infected and so his loving sister Mone decides to take him to Kamikawa Sanatorium Hospital. After meeting the eccentric director during check-in and encountering an old flame, things get really weird as the lines between reality and fiction start to blur.

The cast is limited to just five characters, but each has a unique design that ensures they stand out. Personality-wise, the most interesting is a hallucinated creature named Gelni who pops up and makes crude jokes from time to time. The lead role is a bit bland and his sister Mone is quite subdued, which leaves a lot of heavy lifting for childhood friend Riza to produce engaging conversation. The lack of voiceover prevents any of the characters having an overly memorable presence though.

In terms of horror, I feel it’s a bit of a stretch for Horrific Xanatorium to be defined as such. Sure, the monsters are creepy looking with tentacle-like arms and skinless bodies, but there’s no fear factor. In fact, there’s only a single jump moment that achieves the desired effect. That said, you will constantly ponder what is and isn’t real, thus creating a fascinating mystique to the goings on.

Unfortunately, one of the most disappointing aspects of Horrific Xanatorium is apparent right from the outset and its in regards to the quality of the writing. Sentences occasionally make no sense through the use of incorrect words, while other times it’s a case of misspelt words. Considering the confusing and mysterious nature of the narrative, it’s imperative to ensure the text-based dialogue is comprehensible for the reader.

Horrific Xanatorium review 2
A lack of presence with the characters

On the plus side however, there are six different endings to witness and these are determined by the choices you make. Thanks to the ability to skip any text you’ve already read, following different narrative trajectories is painless. Not a lot changes until the latter stages, but it’s worth the effort because certain outcomes will really play on your mind and others are quite action-orientated. Doing so might also stretch the total length of Horrific Xanatorium’s main story to around ninety minutes.

To further extend your experience though, a bonus chapter is available and features an extra half hour of what could be considered ‘fan service’. It’s very tame, seeing two of Rui’s female companions join him on the beach with bikinis on. The beach setting is possibly the best looking environment in a game full of boring and often lifeless backdrops. It’s fun and gives additional endings, albeit romantic ones this time. Aside from that, there’s actually an insight into the developer’s mind that unlocks after everything is done and dusted, which caps off things nicely.

In the sound department, nothing particularly sticks out to be honest, but that can be considered as a good thing. The BGM is chilled and upbeat during the most normal moments, while it ramps up the atmosphere with heavier music when bad stuff is going down. Essentially, it does a job without being intrusive on the ears.

Horrific Xanatorium review 3
It’s not just horror!

Overall then, Horrific Xanatorium is less of a horror visual novel and more of a thriller that’s in a rush to the finish line. Despite having well-designed characters who could be memorable, the lack of substance and building upon the initial impressions makes it difficult to care about them. And that’s a shame because the mysterious elements in place are decent enough and the endings do raise intriguing questions. Being littered with errors doesn’t help matters either and the relatively short length of proceedings only serves to highlight them more.

You’d have to be a bit crazy to pay full price for Horrific Xanatorium, but it’s worth slight consideration in a sale.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Mysterious elements
  • Multiple endings
  • Bonus romance chapter
Cons:
  • Rushed storytelling
  • Undercooked characters
  • Too many writing errors
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, KEMCO
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 26 April 2024 | £6.69
James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Mysterious elements</li> <li>Multiple endings</li> <li>Bonus romance chapter</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Rushed storytelling</li> <li>Undercooked characters</li> <li>Too many writing errors</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, KEMCO</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 26 April 2024 | £6.69</li> </ul>Horrific Xanatorium Review
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