Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II PC Review

I enjoy a good, engaging visual novel. But, I must admit I had not played any of the Spirit Hunter games before taking a chance to review Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II, the third game in the Spirit Hunter series. Due to this, I have spent the last three or so weeks playing Spirit Hunter: Death Mark and Spirit Hunter: NG to get myself caught up with the series to be in the best possible position to review Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II. With my mastery of defeating spirits in full swing, I jumped into this sequel and buckled up for more tense, Japanese spirit hauntings as this sequel shows improvements to the foundations built in the previous two games.

As is alluded to by the title Death Mark II, this game is a direct follow-on from Spirit Hunter: Death Mark, and takes place around four months after Death Mark, unlike NG, which was set around five years after the events of the first title. Being a direct sequel means there are a lot of references to characters from Death Mark. These characters often pop into the story to help Kazuo Yashiki. Do you NEED to play Death Mark? Probably not, as the story can be easily understandable on its own, but with the heavy inclusion of returning characters, it would help to know their relationship with Kazuo Yashiki and the experiences they have been through together. There are topics relating to the first game mentioned that might seem throwaway without knowing their history.


The story follows Kazuo Yashiki hired by a prestigious school, Konoehara Academy, to help with the mysterious disappearance of students. The headmaster believes there is something of a spiritual nature infesting its halls and so would like this solved before the school is pushed into the limelight due to the vanishing students. Rumours are the spirit is called The Departed. This is due to the letters that are left a day before a student disappears that seem to specify in a cryptic message which student is going to be taken next. It is Kazuo Yashiki’s job to stop this from happening and figure out who/what The Departed is and why it calls him Husband.

This is a story-heavy game, so I do not want to go into many details, but overall, this is an interesting tale that has some fascinating encounters and gruesome imagination. It jumps into Japanese folklore and puts a twist on infamous spirits, such as Kuchisake-onna (Slit-Mouthed Woman). A thing to note is that apart from returning characters, the story itself does not link to the first Death Mark game. This comes across as a special episode, a sort of adventure in the day of Kazuo Yashiki and what he gets up after closing that evil case in the first game. Still, it’s a solid story. It does have pacing problems but has enough intrigue to make players want to get to the end and see the climax of the story.


It is clear that the developers, Experience, wanted to change elements of this third entry. Death Mark II has the biggest change in its gameplay and mechanics. Gone is the first-person exploration of the previous two games, turning more into a point-and-click adventure game. The player controls the main character from a side perspective as they travel through various rooms within Konoehara Academy, clicking on shiny items in the environment to interact with them. This is a smoother experience compared to the old games, especially Death Mark, as that game in the first-person perspective had directional controls that were not intuitive. Left on the D-pad did not mean going left in the game, as it was determined based on where the camera view was pointing within the environment. This led to moving to the wrong location and, even worse, death when there was that one scenario in the first game where moving into the wrong area of the forest was met with instant doom. Now it is easier to get around, with no confusion in direction, which means it flows better as a game when moving between locations.

On the topic of locations, they are lacking here, as the school is the background setting for most of it, with the occasional trip out, but be prepared to see lots of school rooms; mostly uninteresting and repetitive until things begin to get strange. This I see as a negative, as previously games tried to give the player a new environment for each of the chapter’s spirit encounters, but here, the emphasis on the school is so important that rarely does the story take the player far from it. It also would not hurt to flesh out the exploration a little more. Maybe throw in better or more puzzle-solving to steer it towards a point-and-click game and give the exploration more meaning than simply a different way to explore an environment that was previously done from a different perspective.


One other big change is to the spirit boss fights at the end of the chapter. The player makes their way through the current chapter, they find items and evidence to help them understand what happened to the spirit and why it wants its vengeance. This is then used within the spirit fight. These were incredibly strict in Death Mark, where getting the wrong combination could end up in instance death. It was a mechanic that I felt was unfairly punishing, but thankfully that has now been tuned where death is not as forthcoming. This is due to the wrong combination no longer killing, but taking away the protagonist’s spirit health. Often the game has Kazuo and another party member with him exploring the school. When it comes to the boss fight, the options begin by picking Kazuo or the other character, or having them team up together, then picking an item and an action to perform with that item. This has a percentage chance of succeeding, given by the number on the side. A failure means taking damage but increases success chance the next time the same action is performed. This does not mean it was the right action, as this comes after the success where if it was the right choice, the game will tell, otherwise, the damage is taken, and the process repeats. It could be argued that the difficulty of these puzzle fights has swung too much the other way and now is too easy to figure out, but I would personally take that over something that gives me instant death or for making a dumb mistake/mis-click and being ultimately punished harshly for it.

As stated, this is mainly a visual novel. There is not much else to talk about mechanically in the game. Most of it is spent moving around the school and then getting involved in dialogue with the cast of characters in and around the school setting, in which about 99% of the dialogue is unvoiced. It is nice to have these additional exploration elements, as it takes it away from simply being a text game with optional dialogue choices and feels more in line with an adventure game.


The artwork for the parts that are set in first-person looks brilliant. The artists get the eerie, spiritual nightmare and atmosphere across in the gritty drawings. The 2D side-scrolling elements are not quite as detailed, with the models looking somewhat out of place compared to their portrait and first-person artwork, making it feel somewhat disjointed, but then it must be remembered that these explorational sprites need to animate, unlike the static pieces of character art. Backing up the art is a decent soundtrack that sets each mysterious and dangerous scene. This is not a soundtrack you would listen to away from the game, but it does accomplish what it was composed to do; set that eerie situation the player experiences in Death Mark II.

Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II is a sequel that decides to change a few elements to offer a more streamlined, less frustrating and generally overall better experience than the previous entries in the series. But there is a negative that comes with making the game easier to play and changing the investigation elements to be side-scrolling. While I enjoy this change, the lack of variety in the environments means it can become dreary during the slowly-paced elements between the interesting and climatic parts of each chapter. That said, the main element, the visual novel storytelling, brings a compelling horror tale that blends twists on Japanese folklore with a modernised setting to offer a strong atmospheric story with twists and turns to the end. Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II is a game for visual novel fans who enjoy tales about the supernatural with adult themes.

7 out of 10