Haunting Ground, known in Japan as Demento (デメント), is a PlayStation 2 survival horror game.
It was developed and published by Capcom on April 21, 2005 in Japan, April 25, 2005 in North America and May 10, 2005 in Europe. In 2015, it was re-released on the Japanese PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3.
After Clock Tower 3, Capcom's studio developed Haunting Ground. While technically not an official Clock Tower game, it is still connected to the Clock Tower series as a "spin-off spiritual successor" since it was made with many of the team members who worked on Clock Tower 3. Haunting Ground also bears many similarities to the Clock Tower series such as stalkers, a panic system and hiding places. It has been rumored that Haunting Ground was originally developed as Clock Tower 4, and contains scrapped Resident Evil 4 assets.
Teenager Fiona Belli has just been involved in a car crash with her parents, but her memories of this accident are vague. When she awakens, she finds herself in a cage in a cellar. Noting that the cage that keeps her prisoner was left unlocked, she steps out but is startled by a fierce dog snarling and then running past her. Fiona exits the cellar and finds herself in a castle.
Fiona meets Daniella, the castle's maid, who provides her with basic clothing but leaves before Fiona can ask any questions. In a corridor, Fiona finds Debilitas, a large mentally disabled hunchbacked male "homunculus" (artificial man-made human) who believes Fiona is a doll for him to play with. He is hostile and chases Fiona around the castle until he is temporarily stopped by Riccardo Belli, the castle's keeper. Riccardo tells Fiona that her parents, Ugo and Ayla Belli, died in a car crash and that she is the heir to Belli Castle. Confused and disturbed, Fiona faints. Fiona later wakes up on a bed in the guestroom. She hears whimpering from outside and finds the dog from before, tied to a tree with a wire.
Fiona frees the dog and tells him to run away. However, after the dog protects Fiona from Debilitas, Fiona befriends him, a white German Shepherd named Hewie and valuable ally. She quickly begins searching for some answers and a way out of the castle she is in but the main entrance is locked and the castle perimeter is secured with walls.
As Fiona's predicament gets more disturbing, she learns that she is the carrier of the Azoth, which is what the castle's residents are after. She realizes that almost everyone and everything in the castle either wants to kill, rape, and possibly eat her body. She finds letters and memos given to her by a man named Lorenzo who wants to help her escape the castle. Fiona and Hewie are chased by Debilitas to the chapel. The way in which the player ultimately eliminates Debilitas influences the outcome of the endings; Fiona can either kill him, or spare his life by dropping a chandelier onto him.
Soon after Fiona has rid herself of Debilitas, Daniella reappears to serve Fiona dinner. Daniella becomes jealous that Fiona can smell, taste, and "experience pleasure and pain", and desires Fiona's Azoth to become "complete". This foreshadows her later intimation, immediately before her boss battle, that she cannot engage in sexual intercourse or have children as she is infertile. While Fiona is resting in one of the castle's rooms, Daniella bashes her head against a window until it shatters, then wields a large shard of broken glass and pursues her with it. At one point, when Fiona trips on stairs, Daniella notices a mirror on the wall and begins screaming at her reflection.
After an exploration of the Old Mansion, Daniella's end comes when Fiona and Hewie enter a stargazing room and face her in a boss fight. Daniella tells Fiona that Fiona's body is "filthy", licks her glass shard/iron poker, and cries blood. Fiona eventually indirectly kills Daniella by impaling her with a large shard of broken glass from the ceiling. Daniella smiles as she dies, happy that she has finally experienced pain and can die fulfilled, free from her boring and monotonous life and existence.
While exploring the castle, Riccardo chases Fiona with a flintlock pistol. Riccardo keeps his face hidden under a hood, though reveals his face and his plot to Fiona after cornering her in the forest. He has the same face as Fiona's father, Ugo, and reveals that they are clones and that he is the original. Riccardo murdered Ugo after attempting to kill him in the car crash as revenge for leaving the castle and marrying Ayla, Fiona's mother. He plans to use Fiona by means of her womb and use of her Azoth to help him be reborn so that he may live forever. Hewie rescues Fiona and assists in their escape from the tower in which Riccardo keeps Fiona imprisoned. During the battle with Riccardo on the top of the tower, Riccardo falls off, resulting in his death.
Fiona enters the House of Truth and meets Lorenzo, her alchemist grandfather who menaces her in several different forms. She first meets Lorenzo as an old, crippled man. He tells Fiona how Riccardo was always the "problem child", and that he created both Riccardo and Ugo in attempts to find a body with Azoth he could use. Ugo had the Azoth but left the castle to marry Ayla. Now that he knows Fiona is finally his, he can take the Azoth she inherited from Ugo. He rids himself of his wheelchair and crawls on the floor in order to chase Fiona.
After crushing the elder Lorenzo in a machine, Fiona encounters a resurrected, youthful Lorenzo; the Azoth, which he took from Riccardo's corpse using mouth-to-mouth, allows him mastery over his own aging process, as well as the ability to teleport. Fiona, with the help of Hewie, causes Lorenzo to fall into a pit of lava. Immediately after defeating young Lorenzo, the castle begins to shake and collapse, and Lorenzo returns a final time as a flaming skeleton. He chases Fiona, but finally dies as she and Hewie escape the castle.
- Ending A "Fortes Fortuna Juvat" (Latin for "Fortune helps the brave") - Fiona struggles to get the key into the lock. Hewie calms her fears and she manages to unlock the door. However, Hewie begins barking which catches Fiona's attention. From the double doors, Debilitas comes out with hedge clippers. In a tense and awkward moment, Fiona and Debilitas stare at each other. Debilitas then simply bows to Fiona, showing that he means no more harm to her, and possibly thanking her for sparing his life. With that, she and Hewie leave the castle. Debilitas looks at the overgrown trees in the garden and begins clipping them as he hums to himself. To get this ending, the player must defeat Debilitas using the chandelier. This does not kill Debilitas, but rather causes him to retreat and thus no longer pose a threat for Fiona during the remainder of the game. This is considered as the best ending.
- Ending B "Ignis Aurum Probat" (Latin for "Fire tests gold") - similar to Ending A, except that Debilitas does not appear. As Fiona is opening the castle gate, she stares at the castle for a few moments, before turning and following Hewie into the forest. To get this ending, the player must have Fiona kill Debilitas.
- Ending C "Dona Nobis Pacem" (Latin for "Grant us peace") - similar to Ending A, except that Debilitas does not appear. Lorenzo calls out to Fiona not to go and falls down the stairs, loathing the fact that she has left. To get this ending, the game must be completed once. Debilitas must be defeated with the chandelier. Fiona must visit Debilitas in his hut, where he will give her the "Smudged Key" that opens one of the locked bathroom stalls, which reveals a hidden cellar. In that cellar, Fiona finds the key to the castle's main gate.
- Ending D - "Tu Fui, Ego Eris" (Latin for "What you are, I was. What I am, you will be") - Fiona wakes up in a glass box where Riccardo taunts her and says she belongs to him. She screams in her frustration. Fiona is likely raped off-screen - even more disturbing because Riccardo could be viewed as Fiona's uncle. Later, in a castle bedroom, Riccardo tenderly strokes Fiona's head and her bulging stomach, as she is now heavily pregnant. As he walks away, she wakes, gives a faint smile, and issues a hollow laugh. To obtain this ending, Fiona must have a bad relationship with Hewie when she faints in the forest. Hewie does not save Fiona, either due to dying from Riccardo's gun attack or out of apathy due to Fiona mistreating him. This is likely non-canon as Fiona seems to care for Hewie very much.
Fiona must be guided through Belli Castle, its grounds and outbuildings until she can find a way to escape. Fiona is accompanied by Hewie and the duo must work as a team to solve certain puzzles and outwit their pursuers. Along the way, Fiona and Hewie must solve puzzles, unlock doors and evade, hide or attempt to fight back against the castle's inhabitants. There are also plenty of booby traps in the castle which will instantly kill Fiona if the player does not recognize them.
To increase immersion, there are no HUD elements. Instead, Fiona has a separate inventory. In this inventory, the player can use items, equip equipment, read collected files and notes, check a map, read comments from Fiona (and Hewie on Hard Mode), and change game settings.
The castle's inhabitants wander around the castle off-screen and may chase and attack Fiona. When a stalker is nearby, the game's background music has a tendency to silence. Stalkers are alerted by sound; if Fiona makes a lot of noise (footsteps and slamming doors), the likelier a stalker will appear. If evaded long enough, the stalkers will cease for a while until the next encounter occurs. The castle's residents chase Fiona individually until defeated in a boss battle, after which a different enemy will pursue Fiona.
While it is possible to retaliate with kicks, Hewie's bites, or alchemically created weapons, evading enemies and finding hiding spots is emphasized. Fiona can hide behind doors and objects by crouching, in wardrobes, under objects such as beds and tables, and sometimes bushes. However, if Fiona is found re-using hiding places, stalkers will begin to catch on. In addition, the game's "the coast is clear" message is extremely unreliable and instead, experienced players always wait for the background music to return to normal.
Two enemies exist in addition to the castle's keepers, neither are dangerous to Fiona but can alert Fiona's pursuers to her location and cause panic. The first are small floating orbs of blue light known as Luminessants, which follow Fiona and emit a loud noise if they come into contact with her. The other enemy type are fetus-like disfigured homunculi, who let out a piercing yell.
Hewie joins Fiona early in the game, following different commands to perform actions like barking or growling when he detects a trap or threat. He can be commanded to stay, follow, attack, fetch and to shake hands.
In order to maintain a good relationship with her new companion, Fiona must issue commands to Hewie, praising or scolding him depending on whether or not he obeys. Praising or healing him when he becomes injured also maintains his interest. Hewie will ignore Fiona's commands and wander off if not given enough attention, and if he is repeatedly mistreated he may even attack her. It is up to the player to raise Hewie's obedience.
Hewie can be knocked unconscious from sustaining too many injuries but can be revived, however, in Hard Mode, he is slain after receiving the same level of injuries, causing the game to end.
Haunting Ground uses a panic system. Unlike previous Clock Tower games which display panic as a cursor color or as a meter, panic causes motion blur, desaturation of the environment and a freeze-frame effect, and the controller vibrates to Fiona's heartbeat.
When faced with certain scary events, such as if Fiona finds blood, hears a scream or sees insects, or during prolonged enemy attacks and chases, Fiona becomes fearful and will begin to trip on the floor, and the visual effects and vibration mentioned above occur.
If Fiona becomes too terrified, she will scream and enter panic mode and run. The music "Closed Mind" will play. The player is unable to stop Fiona running and must try to prevent her from running into walls and objects. Although Fiona can open doors in Panic Mode, she cannot close them or unlock them. If her relationship with Hewie is good enough, Fiona can call him and have him distract the stalker long enough for Panic Mode to end.
If Fiona bumps into a wall or an object, she may fall down and begin crawling on the floor. At this point, Fiona will die if attacked again, and there is usually a 50/50 chance that she will die. The player can also wiggle the analog sticks and repeatedly press buttons so that Fiona will get up faster, and call Hewie.
- See also: Haunting Ground Items
The Variatio Machina, found in the Refining Room, is an alchemy machine which lets Fiona forge and create items, using Medallions found throughout the game. These items can help reduce Fiona's panic and recover her stamina. The player can also forge attack items, such as Magnesia and Antimony Powder, which Fiona can drop on the floor or throw at the enemy to hurt them.
Dog's Best Friend
When the game is finished once, a mini-game is unlocked where the player can, instead of controlling Fiona, control Hewie in a number of areas and events from the game. As Hewie, the player must guide Fiona to the exit of the level as quickly as possible. The levels (mainly Belli Castle) have a set path; doors that could possibly be used for a shortcut are locked. Possible fights are: Debilitas in Chaos Forest; Daniella in Belli Castle; Riccardo in Belli Castle (while he is invisible); and Lorenzo in Chaos Forest.
Unlock Hard Mode and Secret Room:
- To unlock both Hard Mode and the Secret Room, beat the game once. Hard Mode is a harder difficulty where even a mere 2 or 3 hits can send Fiona into panic mode.
- Illegal in Some States: Finish the game with Ending A or B.
- Texas Cowgirl: Finish the game with Ending A.
- Fiona the Frog: Finish the game with Ending C.
- German Shepherd (Hewie): Finish the game.
- Stuffed Toy (Hewie): Finish the game on Hard Mode.
- Alternate enemy costumes: Play Hard Mode.
A full list of all unlockable costumes, how to get them, special abilities, and information about them can be found here.
Plate Key Unlockables:
- A number of items, including neck chokers and boots that gives Fiona special abilities can also be unlocked by imputing secret/cheat words into the Plate Key Machine to get a plate key for each, which then rewards the player with said item once used. Codes include:
- METH - Gives Fiona the Obsidian Choker when the player types "METH" instead of "EMETH" and places it into the first Golem they encounter; disintegrating it and dropping the necklace.
- MAGNUS - Inquisitor Earrings and Jade Choker (Unlocks the red box in the nursery)
- ADAMAS - Diamond Choker (Refining Room)
- ALCHYMIA - Alchemist Earrings (Refining Room)
- POWDER - Burst Shoes (Refining Room)
- MORGAN - Fairy Earrings (Refining Room)
- Main article: Demento Original Soundtrack
The Demento Original Soundtrack is the soundtrack of Haunting Ground. It was not released outside of Japan. It is composed by Seiko Kobuchi and Shinya Okada. The game also features the piano composition "Liebestraum III" by Franz Liszt; Lunatic Piano and Liebestraume Notturno III ~ Nostalgic.
Haunting Ground received poor sales due to little marketing, as well as the fact that Resident Evil 4 had been released around the same time. Physical copies of the game are usually rare and expensive. The game received mixed reviews and holds a 67 on Metacritic, but its Metacritic user score is 8.8 out of 10.
Despite the mixed reception, the game received a strong cult following, citing interesting puzzles, story, music, impressive AI for Hewie, decent graphics and art design, good facial animation and mocap, good voice acting, innovative panic system, and decent replay value.
Also notable is the lack of loading times and load screens, compared to previous survival horror games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil. The player can run from room to room, even into the outdoor areas, and not see a single load screen. The only load times in the game are on bootup and right before a cutscene, but the load times before cutscenes are very brief. While it may not seem like a big deal now, it was a step forward for video games for its time.
However, the game was criticized for:
- No option to disable subtitles.
- Lack of widescreen compatibility on release. Many games by 2005 had widescreen support so there is no excuse. Fortunately, the game can be widescreen hacked in PCSX2.
- Some clipping issues. For example, if Fiona is knocked into a wall, her legs may go through the wall.
- Some players felt that Fiona's breast jiggle physics was a little ridiculous and unnecessary and wish they could be disabled in the options menu. They bounce almost every time Fiona stops walking or running.
- Despite being a slasher horror game, some blood and gore effects are undetailed and unrealistic. For example, if Fiona is cut by Daniella's shard of glass, her blood is bright red, and her clothes are unstained and she has no visible cuts or bruises.
- The controls require the player to hold the X button to make Fiona run as Fiona walks by default, and there is plenty of running in the game, requiring the player to constantly hold the X button, which may be an annoyance. A better option would be to connect Fiona's walking speed to the analog stick; if the player slightly tilts it, Fiona walks, and if the player tilts it all the way, Fiona runs. A second option would be to have a setting which makes Fiona run by default, like the first three Silent Hill games.
- The contains some blurry textures and models, which are less noticeable if the game is played on a PS2 or PS3, but noticeable if played in HD on an emulator. Humorously, almost every single doorknob in the game is a hexagon or a cylinder.
HD remaster and emulation
There is currently no word of an HD remaster of Haunting Ground from Capcom, however, Capcom stated that they are planning more HD remasters. There are many fans of Haunting Ground who would love an HD remaster, possibly with improved running controls and upgraded textures.
The only way to play Haunting Ground in HD is to use a PlayStation 2 emulator (PCSX2) and a widescreen patch, although there may be minor visual glitches via this method such as missing/broken shadows, fire from candles appearing behind walls, pixelated reflections, etc. A "TX Offset" of 500 by 500 (in HW hacks) may also be used to fix blurry ghosting issues.
- Clock Tower director, Hifumi Kono, commented, "Haunting Ground's use of Hewie was quite unique, and I tend to enjoy games that take a chance to do something different."
- The game uses motion capture, even for Hewie.
- The exact setting of the game is unknown, but because of names like "Fiona", "Riccardo", "Lorenzo" and "Belli", it's possible to been located in Italy or Spain, also known for the fluent Latin language roots during the plot. It is also possible that it is set in England, due to the English accents.
- The word "Demento", the Japanese name of the game, is Latin for a deranged, mentally disturbed, or lunatic, a possible hint at the residents of the castle and the game style.
- Haunting Ground severely punishes the player for making unwise decisions. For example, if Fiona kicks and abuses Hewie, he will begin attacking her. If Fiona kicks a homonculus, it will bitchslap her. If Hewie growls and barks to warn Fiona of a booby trap and the player ignores Hewie, Fiona will die.
- The ending "Tu Fui, Ego Eris" shares the same name with a line spoken by Heather Mason after reading a story document in the Otherworld in Silent Hill 3.
- Haunting Ground has many similarities with another PlayStation 2 exclusive game, Rule of Rose. Both protagonists are English female blonde orphans (Fiona, Jennifer) in their late teens and also have a demure personality. The protagonists rescue a dog (Hewie, Brown) that will help them during the rest of the game, which assists them by finding hidden objects, barking at enemies and also attacking the enemies.
- Although having dreams about video games are normal, many players (especially first time players) of Haunting Ground report having nightmares about being trapped in a castle, usually with Debilitas or Daniella chasing them. This is likely due to trauma and the fear of being killed and stalked, which can manifest in dreams and nightmares, similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, and a side effect of playing a scary video game for hours about being trapped in a castle full of hostile killers.
Resident Evil similarities
- Some of the castle architecture in Resident Evil 4 is very similar to those seen in Haunting Ground.
- Haunting Ground draft scenario writer, Noboru Sugimura, wrote the scenario draft for Biohazard / Resident Evil 4 Prototype which had a girl and a dog. He was also the scenario writer for many previous Biohazard / Resident Evil games.
- In Resident Evil 4, Leon Kennedy can free a white dog which resembles Hewie.
- The controls for Hewie are similar to the commands (and possibly a modified engine) of the Resident Evil: Outbreak series. For example, down is "come here/come on!", up is "go!", right is "good boy/thank you" and R3 is "stay/wait!".
- In Biohazard 4 / Resident Evil 4 Beta/Prototype (dubbed 3.5), there is a doll room with dolls and Mannequins, similar to the Mannequin room in the library and doll/child room in Haunting Ground.
- The "Plate Key Machine" is a possible nod to the typewriter of the Resident Evil games.
- Riccardo's gun sound is similar to the Colt S.A.A. from Resident Evil 2. Fiona's Texas Cowgirl costume gun sound is also recycled from Resident Evil.
- The inventory click sounds are similar to the inventory sounds from the Resident Evil remake.
- In Resident Evil, the player uses herbs to heal and restore health. In Haunting Ground, the items Mundus, Torva and Sedetio appear very similar.
- Although more likely coincidental, Fiona's physical appearance resembles that of Jill Valentine in Resident Evil 5. Similarly, Lorenzo's old form bears some resemblance to Oswell E. Spencer from the same game.
Plot similarities with Clock Tower 3
Haunting Ground bears some plot similarities with Clock Tower 3.
- The protagonists are both teenage girls (Fiona, Alyssa Hamilton) who become orphaned during the game. The main antagonist is the protagonist's grandfather (Lorenzo, Dick Hamilton), who wants to capture her in order to live for all eternity with them -- however, in order to do so, he must first take something from inside of her body (Azoth, Rooder Heart). Initially, the protagonist thinks of him as a good person, but she discovers that it is only a front. The protagonist refuses the opportunity to live with him forever and defeats him in the end.
- Throughout the game, the female protagonist is aided by a male companion (Hewie, Dennis Owen); in one part of the game, he is captured by the enemy and is needed to be rescued by her.
- The protagonist's mother (Nancy Hamilton, Ayla Belli) is killed in a car crash, while their father (Philip Hamilton, Ugo) is killed by a sharp blade.
Similarities with previous Clock Tower games
- "Belli" is similar to "Barrows"/"Burroughs" as a two syllable surname that begins with a B.
- The main characters are both orphaned, female teenagers. In the novelization of Clock Tower, it is revealed that Jennifer Simpson's mother is actually a Barrows, and Jennifer is unaware of her occult family history, much like how Fiona is unaware of the Belli's history of occultism and alchemy. The same also applies to Alyssa Hamilton being unaware of her Rooder ancestry, and Alyssa Hale being unaware of the Maxwell ancestry.
- Both the main characters of Clock Tower: The First Fear and Haunting Ground free an animal (Jennifer can free a crow, Fiona frees Hewie). This animal later comes back to help the character fend off one of their stalkers: the crows kill Mary Barrows by leading her off a ledge; Hewie saves Fiona from Debilitas and, later, Riccardo.
- The stamina system is quite similar: in Clock Tower: The First Fear and Haunting Ground, running and fighting off enemies decreases stamina, but crouching recovers it.
- Lavender, a calming herb in this game, is carried over from Clock Tower 3, where Alyssa could use Lavender Water to calm herself down from getting panic.
- In the first Clock Tower, perfume is used to help the protagonist. In Haunting Ground, Hebel's Perfume also helps the protagonist.
- The save points in Haunting Ground are clocks, a possible homage to Clock Tower.
- Clock Tower 3 and Haunting Ground feature moths that hinder the player's progress.
- The game shares many sound effects with Clock Tower 3, such as footsteps and menu options. The Weeping Stone item emits the same sound as the ghosts' laugh from Clock Tower 3.
- In Ending A, Debilitas is seen clutching a giant pair of scissors to cut some leaves in the garden, which may be a reference to Scissorman from the previous Clock Tower games.
- The game includes multiple endings, labeled alphabetically (A, B, C, D, etc).
- In Haunting Ground, Clock Tower: The First Fear as well as in Clock Tower 3, at least one hiding spot can be revealed by minor enemies of the protagonist. In Haunting Ground, Luminessants can reveal Fiona's hiding spot. In The First Fear, the parrot in the bedroom will tell Scissorman if Jennifer is hiding beneath the bed. In Clock Tower 3, if the purple butterflies are present in the room where Alyssa is hiding, they can reveal her hiding spot and maximize her panic.
- In both Haunting Ground and Clock Tower: The First Fear, the protagonists can be attacked by bugs if they make a mistake in a puzzle: if Fiona examines the wrong equipment, Fiona will be ravaged and killed by cockroaches; in The First Fear, Jennifer will be attacked by a swarm of flies and cockroaches if she examines the meat locker without the insecticide.
- In the beginning of Haunting Ground, a crow or raven is on a branch, a possible reference to Clock Tower: The First Fear.
- The basic idea of a stalker chasing the protagonist and hiding is one of the most important gameplay mechanics in the Clock Tower series.
- Some rooms are loosely based on rooms from Clock Tower: The First Fear, such as a child's bedroom with dolls.
- In Ending D of Haunting Ground, Riccardo plans to be born again from Fiona's womb. In Jennifer's Clock Tower Adventure Novel, in a corruption of Ending B, both Dan and Bobby are reborn with Jennifer as their mother.
- In Clock Tower: The First Fear, while being chased by Dan, Jennifer knocks a box of kerosene which catches fire on a candlestick. In Haunting Ground, while being chased by Lorenzo, Fiona uses a candlestick to cause an explosion.
- The Door Spell from Clock Tower is in Latin. There are also Latin references in Haunting Ground such as the game endings and "Acta Est Fabula".
- English website
- Japanese website
- Demento-pedia English translation
- YouTube playthrough of Haunting Ground in PCSX2, HD, with widescreen hacks