Misao is an RPGMaker game in the vein of Corpse Party, developed by sen and published on Steam by PLAYISM.
Misao tells the story of your protagonist (you can play as a male or female but I don’t think your choice sbstantively affects the story) having a dream about Misao, a girl who has disappeared from your school. While sitting at your desk the next day you hear Misao’s voice calling you and suddenly you, along with several other students and a teacher, are plunged into a nightmare version of the school plagued by ghosts and demons.
You are greeted by Onigawara and Miss Library, supposedly the school’s student council head (even though he looks older than your teacher) and a student (maybe) who is called Miss Library because she spends so much time in the library. She is there whenever you need a hint. Which are usually pretty helpful but vague enough that you’ll need to use a bit of brainpower to get them.
Onigawara is your general guide to what is going on and what Misao wants, exactly. I’m not really giving away spoilers by telling you this much. You find out that Misao was the victim of bullies, who had a crush on one of the popular boys, Tohma. One day Yoshino, her main tormentor, sets up a prank with Tohma and this sets the chain of events leading to her disappearance in motion.
The story definitely took some twists that were unexpected. And the reason behind her disappearance was not what I expected. The Definitive Edition does have a few changes from the original. One of which I’m a little loathe to mention because I think they changed it to obscure the ending a bit. One of the changes that I thought was pretty funny (and I wish they had left) is when you’re exploring a mad scientist type of lab (why it’s at the school, who knows, remember, it’s an astral plane so I guess the school’s science lab could have mutated). Anywho, you have to find a place to hide, and quick. So you look around and the room gives you several options (slight spoiler for a puzzle, I guess) and one of the options is a big bear on an operating table. In the original it was a human body and guess where you’ve got to hide? I thought it was hilarious and I kind of wished they’d kept it.
Despite the more serious overall story arc one of the most fun things to do was die. You have a quick save button so you can save wherever you want (in-game, if you leave the game you need to find a regular save point to save your progress). So there’s no real reason to let an unexpected death or two (or a hundred) get you down. A few of my favourites were a statue chasing you to turn you into a statue, leaving a classroom and plunging into an abyss only to crash head first into a toilet and a little ghost girl floating down to gently pluck your head from your shoulders in the calmest decapitation I’ve ever seen. There are many more and while it could be frustrating the quick save makes finding them a ball.
The biggest flaw I had with it was that the school corridors all look very same-y. Fortunately one of the people I was playing with (my son’s girlfriend) has a very good sense of direction so she was very helpful in getting us unlost. We three like to play together and voice the different characters. They also talked me into the correct choice at the end of the game so we all make a good team. Well, I’m mostly a door while they actually solve the puzzles and figure out where to go.
I can’t say that it was super scary or anything. I just don’t get scared by little pixel sprites. But if the story is good and creepy I can get into it. And Misao definitely fulfilled that end of it. The story was good and the characters, while not being entirely likeable, were still engaging. I’m not sure if you could find it for free still but I would recommend Misao: Definitive Edition, anyway. It has a little more option to it with the choice of playable character and also has the ‘true’ ending which is very satisfying. 5 out of 5 from me!
GracieKat was the first co-host of Sci-Fi & Scary, Lilyn’s partner-in-crime, and sub-head of the Kali Krew. She reviews horror books, movies, and games for the site. She also does a weekly Focus on the Frightful feature, and is the site list-maker. She is also in control of the Sci-Fi & Scary podcast which will relaunch soon.