It’s safe to say we humans have something of an obsession with the paranormal. There are countless books, movies, shows, and video games that explore it. We usually follow or are put in the role of those hunting for the paranormal and not the paranormal itself. Well, that’s the main aspect of Wonhon: A Vengeful Spirit by solo developer Busan Sanai Games. You play as a young woman murdered by enemy soldiers who wakes up in the afterlife. With unfinished business and ghostly power to boot, this game offers a different perspective on the paranormal and gives some depth to the idea of angry spirits.
Why So Vengeful?
There are many reasons why a ghost would be so angry, and this game has a pretty good one. The story is set in an alternate 1920s-era Korea where a nameless girl is murdered by an unspecified military force. She awakens in the afterlife where she meets the God of Death who is overwhelmed by spirits and unable to move on. The girl offers to put these spirits to rest if the god grants her the ability to return to the living world and reunite with her family. The god agrees and even grants her ghostly powers so she can accomplish what the spirits need her to do. It’s a slightly confusing quest for peace through revenge.
All paranormal investigators are looking for strong evidence of ghostly activity, and the more powerful, the better. Wonhon is evidence of a good supernatural experience. The first is the simplicity of stealth. Most of the game is based on sneaking around and staying out of sight, and it’s as easy as moving behind the nearest box. The girl automatically enters sneak mode when moving near enemies, and when she runs, a faint but visible circle clearly indicates the sound she’s making.
Next, there’s the pacing of the game. Despite being mainly stealth, the way the game is presented allows you to move quickly whether sneaking or running. You’ll find a lot of openings to move quickly between different objects and structures. The camera angle also gives you a generous view of the surroundings and nearby enemies. You need to alternate between hiding behind things and within enemies in order to navigate safely and reach the goal. Depending on the objective, you’ll need to strategize and stay vigilant.
There’s also a fair amount of challenge. You have the ability to zoom out and clearly see enemies’ fields of vision, but this doesn’t take away from the difficulty. Enemies have quite a sensitive view and even the slightest sight of you can set them off. They can travel close together or move randomly to throw you off. The game also introduces anti-ghost measures, such as dogs and shamans, to limit your abilities and test your thinking.
Sometimes investigators get so desperate that they invent evidence and just end up looking ridiculous. Wonhon invented many things, and some of them are just that. The first is its length. Each mission is its own level within a contained area. Levels alternate between pretty short and kind of long, but all of them can be completed relatively quickly if you know what you’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with short games, but considering what this game is about, it feels like it’s all over a bit too soon.
Then there’s the lack of variety. The main power you have is being able to possess enemies so you can wander around freely and even kill other enemies. However, there are very limited enemy types that you can possess, which gives you little to play around with. On top of that, most times it makes better sense not to kill enemies so you don’t break patrol patterns. Possession also allows you to briefly go into ghost form, which is nice, but is almost always short-lived and lacking in greater utility.
Then there’s the sheer randomness of some of the enemy patterns. Most enemies patrol a set area and follow a predictable path that can be planned around. However, all it takes is one slip up to bring a hoard of enemies to your location and break those patterns. Once that happens, you can either wait a while for them to hopefully return to predictable patterns, or just restart. There are few enemies that also move seemingly at random or don’t spawn properly, which adds another annoying hazard.
Revenge Is Served
Wonhon: A Vengeful Spirit is certainly unique. After all, it’s not often you’ll find an isometric stealth game about a ghost seeking revenge against soldiers that murdered her and her people. Busan Sanai Games’ new release is fast and easy to master while still offering a fun amount of challenge. It’s also a bit lacking in length and variety, and enemy behavior can at times be frustrating. Still, for stealth-action fans, this game deserves more than a ghost of a chance.
Final Score: 7
This review is based on a digital download code provided by the publisher. Wonhon: A Vengeful Spirit is now available for PC via Steam.