(Wii)

Calling (Wii)

Game Review

Calling Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Let the machine get it

Boo! Did we scare you? No? Well then, there's a pretty good chance Hudson's horror game Calling won't either. Try as it might, the game never really goes beyond that three-letter interjection in its mysterious tale of ghosts and the supernatural. It's not horrible, but there are only so many times you can be snuck up on until you just don't care anymore.

You get the feeling that Hudson threw as many J-horror cliches and Wii features at the wall as they could in the hopes that something would stick. If you’re passingly familiar with movies like The Ring and The Grudge then you’ve seen what Calling has to offer: you’ve got your wet black hair, your blood-soaked ghosts, your creepy dolls, your technology-will-kill-you story elements, it’s all here. It doesn’t do anything really new or ambitious, instead the game settles on retreading old themes and throwing cheap scares your way the whole time.

It’s unfortunate because the first hour or so is quite promising. Hudson did a really nice job of creating a spooky atmosphere up front and maintaining it throughout the rest of the game; it’s dark with some good lighting effects from your flashlight, the sound is well implemented for maximum haunted house effect, the mystery of what’s going on is intriguing enough and the cheap scares are fun. The problem is these things don’t change at all, and by the time the second hour has rolled around you’ve essentially seen everything it’ll throw your way and have become numb to it. You can only walk around so many dark corridors rummaging for keys and diaries with so many ghost faces flashing on the screen until you throw in the towel out of boredom.

If you’re going to push through to the end then it’ll be mostly dependent on how gripping you find the story. It’s interesting enough, certainly no worse than typical J-horror movies, but it doesn’t nearly approach the ambition of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories’ psychology-soaked tale and diverse endings. Speaking of endings, Calling has one of the dumbest false-endings we’ve seen in a while. Around the four hour mark the credits roll, but the game isn’t over. It’s the end of one of the characters’ stories, yes, but it’s only halfway through the overall story. It’d make more sense to split the game up into two selectable, separate but overlapping story lines a la Resident Evil, but instead it comes across as a big "what-the-hell?" moment.

As in Shattered Memories, there’s no real combat. Instead, when a ghost grabs ahold you waggle it off, and “boss fights” consist of being locked in an area for a minute or two and continuing to fend them off until the game decides the fight is over. The main difference between the two is that in Shattered Memories you’re actively trying to figure out how to escape the Nightmare and the enemies add tension to your search, whereas here enemies are just something to endure between phone calls.

On the technical side, Calling is quite sound. The first-person controls work well and the graphics are very clean with nice, if simple, lighting effects. In fact, the art style might be a bit too clean as the ghosts never look gruff enough to instill much dread. As mentioned, the use of sound is probably the best part of the presentation and does the heavy lifting on atmosphere, and mercifully the laughable English voice acting can be switched to the original Japanese (it’s possible this is equally bad, but since this reviewer doesn’t understand Japanese it's hard to tell).

Conclusion

Sometimes things without the most original ideas can still elevate themselves higher than the sum of their parts through tight execution, but unfortunately Calling fails to keep things together for more than an hour. Its cheap scares and repetitive gameplay fail to live up to the promise of that first hour and winds up feeling like you're just going through the motions. If you really like J-horror or haunted house-type things then you might find enjoyment here, but everyone else can just let it ring.

More Stories

Game Trailer

Developer diary for Hudson's upcoming Wii horror game Calling

User Comments (43)

grenworthshero

#1

grenworthshero said:

Hmm, I expected no less. I'm not a big fan of horror games anyway, and this one looked pretty mediocre.

Adam

#3

Adam said:

I have no interest in horror games whatsoever, but I just wanted to pop in to say that I saw the first couple lines of the review on the main page, and that was quite funny. Thanks for the laugh, Jonathan.

BleachFan

#4

BleachFan said:

Ah, phooey! :(
That's too bad...I've heard the same before...
Oh well, I'll probably get this later, but for now Fatal Frame II has my friends and I occupied. :)
(Too bad about the scare-factor...)

CorbsAdmin

#5

Corbs said:

It's a real shame that the game didn't continue to pick up after the first level of the demo. I had high hopes for this one.

Axoloth

#6

Axoloth said:

Oh well, saves me some money. :P
I am a real coward when it comes to scary games/movies, but for some reason J-horror doesn't affect me at all. Still, even though it doesn't scare me, I still play Project Zero, mainly because I love the gameplay.
My point is, if Calling had really fun gameplay, I would probably get it. It sounds like the gameplay is really repetitive though, so I'll spend my money on Shattered Memories instead.

GC-161

#7

GC-161 said:

" It’s interesting enough, certainly no worse than typical J-horror movies"

^^^ And that's the main problem. Because none of the J-horror flicks that are suppose to be scary scare me at all. I found them boring.

But then again, I also felt the same about Paranormal Activity... didn't find it scary not even once. And yet I read that ppl in Italy got traumatized watching it. I guess some ppl get scared easier than others.

I would consider giving this game a chance if I find it cheap and if I read that at least the story is worth the trouble.

#8

said:

That's a shame. I was interested in this game when announced.

Sneaker13

#10

Sneaker13 said:

Too bad, I had high hope for this game because I'm a huge horror fan. Might still get it though, but not at the full price.

Saber

#11

Saber said:

waste of money, 50 bucks for this game?

I can buy one of the other 13 wii games that I want :)

JayArr

#13

JayArr said:

This game brand new only cost $35 on most web-sites. I may pick it up. It seems to be psuedo rare. Nice review, Jon.

Donatello

#14

Donatello said:

I knew this was going to be mediocre at best the first time I laid eyes on the uncreative generic and boring trailer. The ghosts in this game look incredibly stock and unscary. This honestly looks like a 'lost' Dreamcast title with Wii Controls thrown on.

Stuffgamer1

#15

Stuffgamer1 said:

This review is the highest score for the game I've seen thus far. The text reports the same problems the others did, too. I almost thought I MIGHT have been interested in this game at some point, but the time for that utterly silly notion is now past.:D

DarkLloyd

#16

DarkLloyd said:

looks like one of those titles that will go down in price the next few months and i recently develop the ability to beable to tell from them like dragon ball for wii i bought it at 59.99 but if i known it was going to go down to 20 bucks at some point i would of waited

Highlar

#17

Highlar said:

@Axoloth:
I would definitely say get SH:SM if you haven't already. Excellent game all around and well worth every penny spent on it.

Donatello

#18

Donatello said:

As far as Wii Horror games go, these are the ones worth buying...

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
Dead Space: Extraction
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Resident Evil: Archives
Resident Evil Zero: Archives
HOTD 2 & 3 Return

While the major duds are clearly....

Ju-on: The Grudge
Calling
Obscure 2
Alone in the Dark

And the Mediocre...

HOTD: Overkill
Cursed Mountain
Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicales

I still havent gotten the chance to try out RE: Darkside Chronicles....It's been getting very mixed reviews, ranging from 6-8.

CanisWolfred

#20

CanisWolfred said:

@Donatello

Why did you bother listing rail shooters if you're talking about Survival Horror games? ...In fact, why did you even bother listing RE4, which is more of an action game than horror?:P

You also forgot to list Obscure 2 on the "major duds" list. Someone needs to remake/rerelease the Clockwork games someday.

-TR

#21

-TR said:

I've been hearing nothing but bad things about this one. I'll stay well clear.

Donatello

#22

Donatello said:

@MickeyMac

Horror is horror, even if it's an On rails shooter. And I said 'Horror' not Survival Horror. And RE4 is still a Horror game, although it's definitly more action Oriented. Action/Horror seems right.

And you mean Clock Tower? :p

Phobos

#23

Phobos said:

I'm gonna go ahead and stick with the recent Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. :|

Egg_miester

#25

Egg_miester said:

@ Donatello re4 isn't horror its a kiddy cheap action game with very light horror elements and cursed mountain is worth buying the game is great.

its a good thing i put very little trust into NL reviews

GC-161

#26

GC-161 said:

@Egg miester

Sorry if RE4 rubs you the wrong way and if other ppls opinions on the award winning game-of-the-year big-budget blockbuster gives you the vapors (like Donatello's), but said game IS a horror action game.

RE4 is a lot more of a horror game than Curse Mountain, which is actually a psychological thriller. Or just plain thriller.

And I totally disagree with Donatello in regards to Overkill... the game is actually a homage to those cheestastic-over the top horror flicks from the 70's. And it did a grand job at nailing down what made those flicks memorable (they're so bad they're actually good!).

EdEN

#27

EdEN said:

So basically I read the review as: wait until it's below $20 and have some fun with it?

Ricardo91

#30

Ricardo91 said:

Heh, I knew it would be Ju-On all over again as soon as it was announced.

@Egg Meister. You're calling an RE game "kiddy"? Are you $h!tting me!?

Sylverstone

#31

Sylverstone said:

@Stuffgamer1: This is the highest? Nintendo Power gave it the same score, so it's just a tie until I know the other scores.

On horror games, I never really have a thing for it. The only one that I liked (and gave me a good enough scare) was Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition.

GC-161

#32

GC-161 said:

The highest scores given to Calling:

From best to worse...

"Multiplayer.it"........................... Score: 7.1
"Games Master UK"................... Score: 7.0
"GamerNode"............................. Score: 7.0
"NGamer UK"............................. Score: 6.8

There you have it. Make your choice...

Omega

#33

Omega said:

Looks kinda like Fatal Frame.

@SatoriSatya: Thanks for the review scores.

Seems not too bad. I think if you like these kind of games and movies like Ring it's okay and you cannot do anything wrong with it.

Donatello

#34

Donatello said:

@SatoriSatya.

I'm sry but HOTD Overkill is a poor man's HOTD game. GrindHouse presentation and using the F-Bomb over a million times aside. inferior 30fps(when all HOTD games before it were 60fps), quick freezing/clipping problems, horrible and easy boss battles(the final was just awful), graphics were just decent, using no reticule is inacurate and just unplayable so you HAVE to use it where as in HOTD 2 and 3 Returns is 100% dead on like the arcade WITH no reticule, Slowdown(take the carnival for example) It all just pales in comparison to the classic HOTD2...3 even puts it to shame. Yet still, I had a better time with Overkill compared to Umbrella Chronicals, but that's not saying much :p

If anything, what I did like about Overkill were the slow motion Items where you could easily pick apart and blow enemies heads off hehe

GC-161

#35

GC-161 said:

@Omega

I'll eventually give this game at least a rent. And only because I dig these type of adventure-type games. If I end up liking it, hell, I might even buy it. Regardless of what Mr. Reviewer says.

@Donatello

I remember you... you're the one that puts too much weight into the whole 30fps/60fps thing, right?

The thing with overkill is that it does not run at a steady 30fps. When it dips below that it becomes annoying and can sap the joy from the game. I agree with that. But not because it doesn't run at 60fps. That's not the real problem with that issue. SEGA would probably need to remove elements from the game if it tried to make it run at 60fps.

Donatello

#36

Donatello said:

@SatoriSatya

I'm not saying 30fps is bad or anything, I'm just saying 60fps is more impressive and more beautiful to the eyes and enhances gameplay. But in order to achive 60fps, the graphics themselves may have to be stripped down in some form or another, or having to take certain things out. Yet look how gorgeous Super Mario Galaxy managed to look, and it was all running at 60fps. The same goes for Metroid Prime 3: Corruption fo ex. But I agree, if a game starts to dip below 30fps that's when things get annoying and like you said saps the joy of the game. 30fps is fine, anything below is unacceptable in this day and age....The PSOne and N64 was thee' era for many games running below 30fps....Zelda OOT is an example.

Anyways, speaking of On Rails shooters....Have you tried out Dead Space: Extraction yet? I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, have yet to play it. But everyone is saying fantastic things about it. I'm still mixed on getting RE: Darkside Cronicals, to me it's smelling like a Rental :p

GC-161

#37

GC-161 said:

@Donatello

Dead Space is the best there is in terms of rail-shooters. Great story and lots of action. The main problem (as was with Overkill) is that's on the short side. Way too short.

Darkside Chronicles is pretty good but I would only recommend it to fans of the series. There really isn't much for anyone else. Other than for rail-shooter fans (all 3 of you... I kid!).

Vinsanity

#39

Vinsanity said:

I'm very disappointed that Calling is getting such mediocre reviews. A slow-paced, creepy horror/adventure title seems like a PERFECT fit for motion controls.

Oh well - I still have to check out Silent Hill on Wii anyways...

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