After my experience with Kamaitachi no Yoru, I gave its immediate predecessor, Otogirisou, a spin. The title translates to "St. John's wort." The herb has more sinister associations in Japan, of which the main character will gladly inform you at the start of the game. I think he'd have a hard time reversing a few decades' worth of natural medicine PR in the States, though.

I expected a proof-of-concept for Kamaitachi no Yoru, but Otogirisou has its own identity, one that's pretty unique: not only will the plot branch depending on your choices, but the premise of the plot itself will change. Like, completely. In one playthrough, I was exploring the roots of an age-old curse from Bourgogne royalty that turned blood against blood. In another, the hero and heroine mainly concerned themselves with fleeing a giant killer fish. That walked on its hind fins. Somehow. Add this to the very modular nature of the opening developments - where your couple will explore the rooms of a creepy old manor one by one in pretty much the same sequence each time, but the spooks and scares encountered will change according to your choices and the options you've unlocked through previous playthroughs - and you've got a very replayable experience with a ton of content.

It sounds fun, and it is, but the stories end up kind of overly melodramatic or doofy, and the visual style (kinda-clunky Amiga-esque graphics) is limited, which is why I gave it the score I did. As with NightCry, I'm constantly questioning my own assessment, though. Like killer vending machines, ambulatory killer fish don't come along every day.

I was considering going through the twists & turns of the four scenarios I played, but I then realized: there are a lot of differences, and I'm not sure my memory can reliably pair events with playthroughs at this point. Otogirisou is no stranger to mixed-up narratives, though, so that post should the future.

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