We really wanted to like Calling. With the terribly flawed Ju-On: The Grudge missing the mark and Silent Hill then restoring our faith in survival horror, we hoped Hudson would give us a truly terrifying and engrossing experience. Instead, it's about as exciting as a long weekend locked in service station with Anne Widdecombe, and not even half as scary.
On paper, the plot sounds interesting. A number of curious youngsters log onto a mysterious internet chatroom where it's been rumoured it's possible to speak to the dead. A few days later they start getting visits from ghosts, preceded by spooky calls made to their mobile phones. It's basically The Ring with badly rendered characters and terrible voice acting.
The game itself is similar to Ju-On in that it's played from a first-person viewpoint, however Calling does offer a lot more freedom. You're able to walk around using the control stick, while the Z button lets you run. However, there are loads of annoyances that make Calling less a test of your nerves and more a test of your patience.
At least Ju-On tried to chuck different frights at you as you wandered through its various locales. Here all you've got are loads of empty rooms and corridors, with the odd ghost face appearing on a window or a black shadow sliding across the screen. The whole game more or less involves wandering around saying "that was a bit rubbish".
Eventually you'll come across a ghost who'll grab on to you. To get rid of the ghost you have to continually shake the Remote. Eventually it goes away and you can keep exploring. If you press A at the right time the ghost will leave quicker. Really, Hudson? Waggling? That might have passed muster two years ago but not anymore.
Another annoyance is the torch. A small handful of games can pull off using the Remote as a torch, but Calling isn't one of them. You have to find it before you can use it, but it's perfectly possible to see where you're going without it. You can see what the various items in each room are with no problems.
Frustratingly though, the game decides that no, you can't see anything. Any time you look at an object and press the A button you're simply told that you can't see objects in the dark. "Excuse me, Calling, but I'm clearly in a school classroom. Look, here are some desks, and there appears to be some interesting stuff written on the blackboard. I'd like to investigate further if that's okay." "No, you're wrong. You can't see anything. Get a torch and then we'll talk."
Calling is dull beyond belief. You wander around bland corridors, not able to explore anything until you find a torch. When you do, there's more wandering, with the odd bit of ghost waggling chucked in. That doesn't make a good game in our opinion.