Hello? Hell…o? is has been around for a little while, not long, but its original release by Ryuuichi Tachibana was in Japanese only. A few days ago, the English translation was released, and having heard a couple of things about the game, I figured I’d give it a shot.
Unusually, it’s a game with about 30 endings, and it’s entirely set within a single room, though it does change a noticeable amount over the course of the entire game, as you can no doubt see in the screenshots populating this article. There is a back story accompanying the game, but this is revealed through your interactions with the items in the room, so when you first enter, you’re totally clueless as to the context of your presence and why the various creepy things are happening.
When I first entered the room, slamming the creaky door behind me, a bottle of wine smashed on the ground, which made me a jump a little, and then I went up to the candles and blew them out. In the dark, I could hear footsteps approaching from somewhere, and then I got my first ending. That’s how quick each playthrough is. So I headed back in, curious to see what else could be done in the room, and started fiddling with the TV, the letter on the floor, the fireplace and the curtains, all of which usually lead to something happening.
At first, I thought Hello? Hell…o? was just a game in which you attempted to seek out all of the endings by interacting with all of the items in a creepy room. That seemed pretty boring because then it’s just a checklist that you’re filling out. But I soon realized that upon re-entering the room, there were subtle changes to its layout. An end table started moving about. A teddy bear appeared. A distorted blue image of a person flashed up. A clock started ticking.
The game is full of subtleties that flux as you keep playing, and these ensure you keep coming back to see what else had changed. Never have I played a game in which I was both eager and fearful of going into a single room over and over again.
One of the central motifs of the game is the phone that lies on the desk. It’s when answering its ringing once that the game’s title is murmured, soon to be followed up by something dreadful. What is it? You’ll have to find out by playing Hello? Hell…o? for yourself!
Oh, and pay attention to the menu screen every time you go back to it as well.