Publisher: PM Studios
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
Platform: PlayStation 5 (Also available on PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S)
Age Rating: PEGI16
Release Date: 29/03/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
I’m Not Mad, I’m Just Disappointed
It’s not very often I get sent physical copies of stuff, so you can imagine my joy when I was offered a physical copy of Ikai to review. Having not known anything about it, knowing nothing of its form or function, I was happy to give it a bash. Unfortunately, this is where most of my joy ended.
Horror or Thriller? Just Rather Bland
Ikai is centred around the main character Naoko, who must confront her demons while being the priestess of a shrine. While there is zero combat to speak of, Naoko must use her environment and wits to beat her horrific foes. When I say it like that it actually sounds a lot more interesting than most of the game actually was. Which is disappointing.
Ikai is dubbed as a “first-person psychological horror game drawing inspiration from Japanese folklore” so, naturally, I was expecting freakiness and scares. Unfortunately, I found most of the title to be bland and uninspiring. Yes, there was the odd jump-scare and yes, at times it was a tad freaky but overall, the visual style, floaty controls and tepid sound design dragged the whole experience down.
Slow Plodding Gameplay
The game starts off with you cleaning the shrine; you do a bit of sweeping, collect some washing and then weird stuff starts occurring. My main issue with all this is that it all feels like it was dragged out of the 2000’s. The controls are heavy, the animations are very basic and everything feels swampy. There was the odd puzzle here and there to break things up. However, a lot of the time I was just meandering around very unexciting environments.
Whether it was sliding blocks, opening doors or hiding from a very non-threatening snake creature, rarely did Ikai get my blood pumping. Rarely did I find any enjoyment and it was rather disappointing. The best bits of the game were inking some of the papers you need to complete certain tasks and that was not thrilling by any means.
Another one of my gripes with the game was that while I am not a massive horror game fan, I do expect a certain amount of scariness or even eeriness to be woven into it. The monsters you fight and the scenes you are traversing are just not immersive or realistic enough to portray any sort of fear or worry.
Graphics and Sound
As I stated earlier, the graphics of Ikai are nothing to write home about. I am by no means a graphics snob and can forgive poorer graphics for great gameplay or a certain graphical style. Most things about Ikai irked me, so everything felt exaggerated, including my pain. The sound design was even worse. I had several times when annoying sound effects would get stuck and repeat. This meant I had to reset the game several times.
The music was distinctly average and a lot of the sound effects sounded harsh and poorly recorded. Like Naoko’s footsteps on wooden floors, I take it she was wearing wooden footwear but the sound effect was very abrupt and quickly got bothersome. Both the graphical style and sound work do not do the game any favours. Unfortunately, this, in unison with the gameplay left me really not enjoying it.
It’s a No from Me
I hate being negative about things, I am a really positive person but Ikai is a game I cannot recommend to anyone. There are far better games to play, even from within the same genre and I cannot imagine many people will get any enjoyment out of it. I suppose if you really like Japanese folklore, horror games and you can get it at a very reduced price, it may be worth it. Otherwise, give it a wide berth.
Rapid Reviews Rating
1 out of 5
If you want to buy Ikai on the PlayStation store, you can here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.