It Came from Obscurity – Ao Oni
How can something so goofy looking be so terrifying?
At first, what makes Ao Oni (“Blue Demon”) such an effective survival-horror game monster was hard to pin down. He’s certainly not frightening to look at with its sad puppy eyes, five o-clock shadow, and titularly confusing purple skin. I thought perhaps the lavender teddy bear manchild hugged a bit too hard, and Hiroshi looked like a fluffy rabbit to him. As I continued to play, I found myself replacing those snide remarks and insults with genuine fear toward The Oni. All of a sudden, my rudimentary attempts to avoid the monster began to prove fruitless, as it started to appear at the most inopportune times. Grabbing a key from a seemingly safe prison cell? The Oni knew, as he used this cramped space to go in for the quick kill? Even if you were able to squeeze by him, you then had to deal with the fact that he was slightly faster than you. Just this fact alone means that you will meet the Game Over screen…a lot.
Then it hit me, the reason why the creature was so terrifying: he’s relentless. Like Nemesis in Resident Evil 3 before it, the creature will stop at nothing to see you dead, even in places you originally thought safe, like, oh say, THE INVENTORY SCREEN. Yes, you heard me right, The Oni is able to still get you in the seemingly safe pause menu if you aren’t careful.
You’ll notice that I not once mentioned the actual storyline of the game until this point. Truth is, it’s incredibly par for the course of a freeware horror title. Simply put: you enter a haunted mansion, the door locks behind you, you try to escape the mansion alive, wash, rinse, repeat.
If you fancy yourself a master at puzzles, Ao Oni will only eat up a few hours of your time. Though, with the use of a few cheat codes, you can increase your fun with the game. Here are a few of the best:
All cheats are activated by changing Hiroshi’s name when you start a new game. Hiroshi’s name will be unchanged in-game if the codes are input correctly.
SOUTHPARK – A new shorter storyline done in the style of South Park.
TIMER – A chase timer will appear whenever The Oni attacks.
BLOCKMAN – The Oni will be replaced with a block-shaped Oni that can dash quickly towards you.
JMU – Jon is sleeping on the couch. Take care not to disturb him.
You can download Ao Oni from the developer’s website (don’t worry, the English version is listed there too)