Sunday, October 20, 2019

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 112 - Haunting Ground

If Capcom's 2005 PS2 horror game Haunting Ground was released in 2019 it would almost certainly be labeled as problematic and certain blogs would be screaming at the top of their lungs to convince you not to play it. That would have, of course, made it more popular, totally upending their intention of "canceling" it, but they'd do it anyway. Instead, it was released with relatively little hype or attention in the lull between generations back in 2005 and quickly forgotten because back then sites didn't need to feed the Internet outrage machine for views. Man, I really miss those days. Anyway, click to read more about Haunting Ground and watch gameplay video right here.

So why would Haunting Ground be problematic in 2019? Because it's the most rape-y game I've ever played and the fact that a major publisher not only made it but released it in the U.S.A. is astounding. You play as an attractive young woman held captive in a creepy castle where the inhabitants want to violate her. The game isn't subtle about it. Its intentions are impossible to misinterpret. It tries to twist the core concept a bit by giving the different characters - the cast is actually mercifully small - different motivations for desiring poor Fiona, but that doesn't change the fact that forceful sexual violation is still the foundation of this story. It's creepy. It makes me uncomfortable. 

Besides the core subject matter, the other thing that makes Haunting Ground stand out is that you eventually have a dog companion that ends up doing most of the fighting for you, among other things. Having an A.I. controlled dog definitely makes it more interesting. Your character can actually fight back to a limited extent, but she spends most of her time hiding from enemies and losing her mind in fear. It certainly makes the experience unique compared to other horror games.

For this video I didn't even get to having the dog as your companion yet. Haunting Ground is a slow grind as far as gameplay mechanics go, you see. I was able to show off some super creepy early stuff, though, so I consider it a success.

Honestly, though, I can see why the game was so quickly forgotten by pretty much everyone. I wouldn't have even known about it at all but The Two Best Friends played it during one of their horror game marathons several years ago. It has some good things going for it - the characters look amazing, the castle you explore is fantastic, Hewie the dog is cool as heck - but the core story and unrelenting uncomfortable negative sexual energy the game has is exhausting. 

It is a horror game, though, and I suppose the subject matter gets swept under the rug because it's supposed to make you feel uncomfortable, but that doesn't mean it isn't still gross and inappropriate. I don't like it. I don't want to ever play it again.