Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo – Review
Follow Genre: Horror game, mystery game, visual novel
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Switch, PC, Android, iOS
Tested on: Switch

Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo – Review

Site Score
Good: Genuinely unsettling horror mystery
Bad: Occasional pacing issues, heavy reliance on logbook to flesh out the story
User Score
(1 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Don’t be surprised if you missed the arrival of Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo, as the game wasn’t exactly heavily promoted in the West. Paranormasight was featured in the most recent Nintendo Direct, but only in the Japanese edition, and for some reason Square Enix didn’t put in a lot of effort to promote the game. Perhaps they’re relying on Paranormasight to become a sleeper hit that builds up an audience through word of mouth. In fact, we knew so little about the game before we got around to reviewing it, that we genuinely didn’t know what to expect when we went in. In all honesty, we don’t regret this, as going in blind is the best way to experience the mysteries that are thrown at you. Of course, we understand it if you’re on the fence, as the game isn’t cheap, so read on if you want our spoiler-free thoughts about whether or not picking up Paranormasight is worth it.


Wasting no time with getting to the point, Paranormasight starts with the game’s narrator, the mysterious Storyteller, asking the reader an intriguing question that sets up the main plot of the game. If you were given the chance to bring someone back from the dead, would you do it? And if so, how much would you be willing to sacrifice to do that? It’s a question that protagonist Shogo Okiie faces early on when his closest friend Yoko Fukunaga dies under mysterious circumstances while she is investigating the titular seven mysteries of Honjo. Her death is where the story really kicks off, but it’s woven into a much, much larger storyline that draws upon these mysteries. We’ll try to mention as little of the plot as possible, as Paranormasight is a story-driven game first and foremost. Alongside Shogo, two other major characters and their companions are looking to solve the aforementioned seven mysteries so that they may have a shot at the so-called Rite of Ressurection and bring a loved one back from the dead… even if it means killing someone else for it.

Of note is that the game draws inspiration from real life, with the mysteries lifted straight from actual urban legends and stories from Japanese folklore. In fact, Paranormasight’s setting itself is based in real life, as part of the game’s development was paid for by the tourism sector. It’s a sly bit of marketing that attempts to draw horror fans to Sumida City in Tokyo to see the sights for themselves. Paranormasight’s main storyline is a completely original affair, but by weaving it together with these authentic mystery stories, the game ends up feeling a lot more grounded in reality, despite being a horror game.


A muted color palette and gritty, screen-distortion filters define Paranormasight’s overall visual atmosphere. It’s clear from just looking at it that this is supposed to be an unsettling game, and art director Gen Kobayashi, whom you may know from NEO: The World Ends with You, absolutely nails the atmosphere. The hand-drawn backgrounds look gorgeous and the character portraits capture the emotions of the game’s protagonists and their companions perfectly. Animations are understandably very limited, given the visual novel nature of Paranormasight, so whatever hardware you’re running this on shouldn’t have a problem with how things are presented visually.


There is perhaps no other genre where sound is so important for the atmosphere than horror games, and Paranormasight delivers in this regard as well. While we would have loved it if the game had been fully voice acted, there is enough here to satisfy your ears even without the cast actually talking. We highly recommend putting on headphones and perhaps playing the game in the dark for full immersion, as the understated soundtrack combined with the sound effects can really entrance you as you attempt to figure out the mysteries.


Although technically a visual novel for the most part, Paranormasight offers enough interactive elements to feel like a mystery game. As such, it belongs in a specific niche category, alongside titles like Root Letter, Ace Attorney, or Yurukill more than Amnesia or Caffeine. After playing through the initial chapter, which sets up Shogo’s story, the game opens up two separate storylines with different protagonists, who are also dealing with the loss of a loved one. These can be played in any order, though depending on how you play them, they will start to weave into one another and it is when this happens that Paranormasight shines brightest. That said, some of the ‘twists’ are very predictable and the game takes way too long to set specific things up. We’ll get back to the pacing issues a bit further down in this review but it’s an issue that is prevalent enough that it’s worth mentioning already.

Where Paranormasight excels is in setting up a genuinely unsettling horror atmosphere. Based on the game’s trailer, we expected Paranormasight to rely on jump scares, and while there are a handful of these present, most of the feeling of dread comes from more subtle elements. A lot of the “investigation” segments put you in a fixed position but allow you to look around the full 360 degrees, without being able to walk around. There’s an incredibly effective mechanic here where instead of a jump scare, the threatening element is just standing there, waiting for you to turn around and face it. The game also gets creative with certain puzzles and even breaks the fourth wall at times, expecting the player to mess around with settings, for example, something we’ve seen before in Doki Doki Literature Club. Paranormasight doesn’t feel wholly original in this regard, but it does handle this approach quite well.

There are a couple of areas where Paranormasight drops the ball and for the most part, these have to do with pacing and overall story structure. A lot of the background of the mystery stories, for example, require you to read them from your logbook, as you can see in the screenshot above. Despite the fact that these are thorough and well-written, reading through them takes up a significant chunk of your game time and can remove the flow from the overarching storyline. Likewise, the game’s multi-storyline approach offers multiple viewpoints and you’ll need to line these up in order to trigger specific events by moving specific characters in certain directions so that storylines can converge. This often requires a lot of backtracking and revisiting parts of the story over and over again until everything lines up. There is also a heavy reliance on exposition that takes you out of the story early on, but as we progressed, this became less of an issue. Nevertheless, we would have vastly preferred it had certain elements come up more naturally within the flow of the main story rather than having to pause everything just so you can head into the in-game logbook to read up on what you’re supposed to know.

One final gripe we have to address is how sluggish the controls feel, when using button inputs at least, although you can get around this on the Switch by using touch controls. This might be something that’s not as much of an issue on the other platforms. That said, we are admittedly nitpicking, as overall, Paranormasight nails what it sets out to do in terms of general writing and overall gameplay. There were times when we genuinely felt unsettled by the in-game events, and the game definitely nails that all-important feeling of dread that is so often missing from horror games. This is probably because the horror elements aren’t front-and-center but implemented in a much more simple way, so that they are constantly looming in the background. We wish we could delve deeper into what makes Paranormasight a must-play title for horror fans, but the game heavily relies on user experience and going in blind, so all we can do is tell you to simply bite the bullet and give it a shot if you’re into this kind of thing, as you won’t end up disappointed. Just be aware that this truly isn’t a game for the faint of heart.


Reader beware, you’re in for a scare! While Paranormasight wasn’t necessarily on our radar before we got the chance to review it, we’re more than happy that we did, as we were pleasantly surprised by what the game had to offer. Despite some pacing issues and awkward controls, this is one of the finest horror games out there, and while we don’t expect the game to become a mainstream hit, there’s a good chance that it will build up a reputation with horror fans over the coming years. We suggest that you jump on the bandwagon early and experience Paranormasight for yourself, so that you can have the pleasure to be the one that recommended it to others, just like we are doing now.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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