I tried the demo last night and I have mixed feelings about it. The graphics are pretty well done and the monsters/zombies are well designed and sufficiently creepy. I wish I could turn off or tone down the grain filter though. It’s a bit much really. The sound is also pretty well done and scary, especially the maddened shrieks of the zombies.
My biggest gripe from the demo was the controls. The right stick camera control in particular is pretty awful. Instead of moving the camera in 3D space, moving the right stick instead just pans the camera around from a fixed place behind your character. It can only pan a little ways, and it’s very digital and jarring. That is, it sort of jumps to its confined limit quickly and really isn’t any good for anything, especially when zombies are bearing down quickly. Because of this, you’re essentially controlling your character with the left stick only, meaning you have to turn around like a tank, which again, isn’t ideal.
Melee combat works fine, though it’d be nice if there was some visual indication as to which zombie you’re “locked” in on. This goes double for gunplay. Shooting works fine because your character seems to autoaim at the zombie you’re looking at, but being able to cycle through targets would be nice, if they’re set on not providing an actual aiming reticle.
I didn’t realize that a first person view was possible in this game, at least while moving. I saw two camera options, one the sticks straight behind the character and one that attempts to view things from over the shoulder. The behind the back camera option worked much better in my opinion, as the over the shoulder view simply made it even harder to see what is going on around your character. This would be a problem with gunplay, as the behind the back view doesn’t allow you to see the front of your gun while pointing it, but because the game auto aims, it’s totally unnecessary to point the gun with any sort of fine accuracy.
It was hard to glean much of the story from the demo, but what was there was pretty interesting. I particularly like the Japanese horror movie feel of the whole thing.
I am a little confused about the “episodic” nature of this game. You can buy it all at once for $40 or in three parts for $15 a piece. I really don’t understand why they decided to split it into episodes when all of the episodes are available immediately. I suppose for a gamer on a budget, it might be nice to buy one episode pack per month, but otherwise the choice to split the episodes up into discrete packs seems pretty arbitrary and frankly, unnecessary.