Alright, so I’m a little late with my review for this Halloween game, but I think November is still a fitting month for horror. It’s getting cold where I live, with autumn leaves falling from the trees, and daylight savings time making it practically pitch dark out before dinner. The perfect atmosphere for staying home with a cup of hot chocolate and reading Snowhaven Studios’ Not It: Spookiest Edition!
Not It begins with protagonist Katie moving into a new house on Halloween, only to immediately discover that everyone in the town of Easthollow is in the process of evacuating for fear of falling victim to an annual curse. After looking into it a bit more around town, she accepts an offer from a group of new acquaintances to join them in their evacuation plan—only for a series of mishaps to end with all of them trapped in a hotel together, fearing that one of their number could be possessed by a vengeful spirit. The choices the player makes determine who lives and who dies over the course of this one horrifying night.
The story of Not It is short and very fast-paced, which works well for some parts of it. It keeps you on your toes and also adds a slightly comical element sometimes by making it feel a bit like speedrunning the classic tropes of a slasher film. However, I would have liked it to slow down sometimes and give me more opportunities to get to know the characters. As it is, there’s not much reason to get emotionally involved or care if they die. For instance, I was hoping that choosing the dialogue options saying I don’t believe in the curse might get me in the good graces of the equally skeptical Willow, but those didn’t seem to really affect Katie’s relationships with the other characters much. I do like that some of the cast gets a bit more development in the good ending where they all live, but I actually stumbled into that one on my first playthrough, which made it all a bit anticlimactic. It would have felt a lot more meaningful if it had been more difficult to achieve, and if I’d had more time to really get invested in trying to save these people.
My experience was also negatively affected by some minor technical issues that I hope later updates to the game might be able to fix. To be fair to the developers, I’m playing on a pretty old laptop, but the game sometimes seemed to freeze for a second or two when loading new scenes, which isn’t a problem I’m used to having with something as mechanically simple as a visual novel. And while the choice the game provides between “normal gore” and “less gore” is a nice accessibility feature, it annoyingly kept asking me that every single time I went back to the main menu—why can’t it just remember what I picked the first time and then stop? It made me a lot less inclined to keep exploring around for every ending when things like that started to make it tedious.
However, Not It has some great aesthetic and production values that make those issues easier to overlook. I loved the distinctive cartoony art style that sets it apart from a lot of other VNs, especially in a few stand-out CGs. The game also has full voice acting, and each of the performers did a great job and really suited their characters. My favourite had to be Vinnie, who has an amusing New York accent that I never got tired of listening to. While you might not be motivated to uncover every secret in this creepy adventure, you’ll still probably have an overall good time following Katie’s quest for survival in Not It: Spookiest Edition.