First, I’d like to thank Shadow Corridor for confirming that I’m indeed a massive wimp and will only return to it with either company or during hours where the sun is up. When given the opportunity to review a horror game in the month of Halloween, I jumped at the chance, and oh boy, did this not disappoint. 

Published by NIS America for the west and developed by Kazumi Shiroma, Shadow Corridor throws you into a world where you’re continually being stalked by evil spirits of the cursed Noh mask. As the unnamed character, you’re essentially defenceless, and your only option is to survive, and in this game’s case, run. Each level is a randomized dungeon based on real Japanese locations, and you must navigate through these areas. Collecting clues, documents, and various items will help explain why these apparitions are haunting you.

The opening setting is in a well-lit (don’t get used to that!) alleyway to which your character’s mysteriously drawn. From the outset, you’re introduced to the PS2-like graphics; this isn’t an insult in any way. If anything, the old-school, retro visuals add to the creepiness of this setting. Almost as if this is a game discovered many years after its original creation. That’s not to say there aren’t any graphical issues. Numerous times throughout the game, background objects and images will suddenly pop in; this happens more than I’d like to admit, detracting from the spookiness and creepiness. If only they popped in aggressively, then it would add to the theme! There are also moments when objects will almost merge and phase between one another. A common example of this was grass or flowers sometimes phasing between each other or getting stuck through rocks or stairs. This low quality again detracts from the atmosphere that the game has built up to this point. 

One area of this game that it excels at is the use of music and sound. At times, the music can be both a stress reliever (in those well-lit areas) and a nice indication you’re safe. Those rare moments of light, melodic tunes are genuinely beautiful. However, this does not last long – the music, I mean. As soon as the game decides to inject fear or anxiety into you, the music will suddenly stop, leaving you to the sound of footsteps, cicadas, and crows. This lethally ominous combination would then follow with booming sounds of terror, loud bangs, clangs, or screams, making for a truly terrifying and masterful use of sound. 

Thankfully the control scheme is basic and easy to pick up, as your only option when confronted by cursed spirits is running. The most common item used is your trusty lighter, equipped from the start as the only real way to see in the dark. Unlike other horror games, such as Outlast with the camera mechanic and the use of batteries, the lighter never runs out or turns off unless you make it. I would have loved a mechanic where the lighter would blow out randomly or while running. Speaking of running, that doesn’t last long either. The stamina feels way too short, and I find that you’ll be running for five to ten seconds, and that’s your lot until your stamina bar regenerates. Stamina makes the chase much more stress-inducing, but not for a good reason. Movement is great, though, so you’ll never accidentally make a wrong move, and if you do, it’s at your fault. 

The main story of Shadow Corridor can be completed quite quickly. If you’re taking your time and making the most of the game, the finish can come in a couple of hours maximum. Once the main game is completed, you unlock a new mode, ‘Apparition Defenders.’ In this mode, you play through the story again. However, this time you are the evil spirits. Sounds fun, but I found that it lost its charm very quickly, and the character model of the person you previously played is awful. A fun extension to the main game, but the main story is where it’s at. Due to the randomly generated maps in most levels, there is a sense of replayability, which the game promotes in its description. However, the outcomes, start/endpoints, and items don’t differ. Meaning if you remember where jumps or main cursed spirits are, they won’t carry that initial impact from your first foray.

Shadow Corridor is a fun Japanese horror game. Perfect for Halloween and any late-night sessions alone or with a group of friends. The controls are smooth and easy to pick up, the jump scares are very effective, and the music elevates everything within this game. My main concern is the replayability the game promotes isn’t as strong as I initially hoped, but that doesn’t impact the overall experience too much.