Hello? Is it me you're looking for? Once you've played Ryuuchi Tachibana's eerie indie horror game Hello? Hell... o? (translated by Vgperson), you'll probably hope the answer to that is nooooope. You play a depressed young man whose days seem to drag by in his lonely, isolated apartment, dull and unchanging. Use the [arrow] keys to move and [spacebar] to interact, and don't be afraid to try everything since with thirty-seven different endings, there's a lot to find. You'll have to look beyond the ordinary monotony of the protagonist's existence and keep playing every time you end the game, because there's a lot more to this story than meets the eye, and this apartment is anything but ordinary.
To say this game is an odd duck is a bit of an understatement, and for some players its unusual means of progression is going to involve too much trial-and-error without much feedback to know if you're actually making headway. In a lot of ways, it feels like a short story Stephen King would have written, or an episode of The Outer Limits, and slowly piecing everything together from the increasingly unnerving changes happening in the tiny apartment is remarkably effective as a means of creating tension. Considering how small the area you're in is as well as how short a playthrough to get an ending can be, sometimes as little as seconds, replaying rarely feels like a chore. You know... unless you hate jump scares. It sort of feels like a freakish spin on Every Day the Same Dream, and equally as open to interpretation, though whether it's as successful is up for debate largely because Hello? Hell... o? seems like it requires a lot of interpretation.
When you get the Happy Ending, you might be tempted to stop, but (and here's where it get difficult to talk without ruining everything) considering booting the game back up even when it doesn't appear you should. The game's abstract approach to progression and repetitive nature won't appeal to everyone, and at least one of the endings is so silly and out of place it almost destroys the mood, but Hello? Hell... o? pulls some exceptionally clever tricks to both tell its story and toy with your perception of it to make it unique and well worth checking out.
Free installation of the RPG Maker VX Ace RTP is required to play.
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