Rin, Seitaro, Yuka, and Yuuta are four friends on a road trip to... somewhere, but they've gotten themselves lost along the way. When their car mysteriously stops working, a kindly old man allows them to stay at his mansion by the swamp. Soon enough, he's left to attend a funeral, and with the friends alone in the mansion, things take a turn for the creepy. Yuka is sick. Yuuta is getting... weird. Could it be the mermaid's legendary curse? Rin and Seitaro will have to find the way out, save their friends, and solve the mystery to escape the Mermaid Swamp, a new free horror adventure by Uri (developer of The Crooked Man) and translated by Vgperson (who's done quite a few of these — if you've played a Japanese RPGMaker or WOLF game in English, odds are pretty good that she had a hand in it).
As Rin, you're going to spend most of the game looking around, collecting items, and solving the puzzles hidden around the mansion. Some of them are pretty difficult, and there's a moderate amount of backtracking, so you might want to take notes while you play. Also, note that, despite what's standard in many of these games, you'll need to go to the Items screen every time you want to use something. Unlike in The Crooked Man, there isn't much in the way of fighting, only a few running sequences. Don't expect a tamer experience, though — there are still a lot of upsetting things, and just as a heads up, some of those upsetting things are sexual. They're shown frankly, though not explicitly, but I don't think it was crass or in bad taste. There's definitely no endorsement of the violence and attitudes toward women that the game depicts. I finished Mermaid Swamp feeling like it made some clever points about certain tropes involving women and death, very much on the side of live, happy, safe women. Still, if you're sensitive to that sort of material, you might want to sit this one out.
While I missed Uri's hand-drawn artwork from The Crooked Man, Mermaid Swamp feels like a better game overall. Rin is a fun protagonist (and in all her stubborn, brash, dopey glory, a breath of fresh air from the standard horror girl), Seitaro's pretty great too, the atmosphere is unsettling, and the secrets you uncover are really, truly horrific. It's also, despite the supernatural elements, a reasonably fair mystery. A little more action might have been nice, as well as a chance to get to know Yuka and Yuuta better, but if you're a fan of horror and aren't put off by the subject matter discussed above, this one comes recommended.
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