The validity of her prophecy all depends on how the player manages their limited resources. Healing tonics are scattered few and far between about the manor grounds. Each character can only carry two items at a time in addition to their default tool, making inventory management a psychologically stressful task. Do you risk leaving recovery potions where they lay to keep your pockets empty for the key puzzle items supposedly coming up around the next turn? What’s your backup plan if the group carrying the candle is ambushed and needs support, but the other team has to fumble through the darkness to reach them?
The immediacy of rushing in to help your teammates is only heightened by the frantic battle theme breathing down your neck as threatening as any ghoul or ghost. Like a good film, the soundtrack is another character in itself, covering the abstract pixellated mansion in a miasma of dread.
The cinematic qualities don’t end there. The birds-eye-view opening shot establishes the Mamiya manor as a desolate locale far removed from outside help—you are in this on your own. Unlock a door and we switch to a cut-scene of it creaking open, daring you to challenge the darkness within. There’s even pseudo-quick time actions where falling chandeliers and spike traps come flying at your POV, prompting you to make a quick dodge to safety or suffer the fatal consequences.
So far we have a creepy mansion, resource scarcity, pus-oozing monsters, door sequences—we're only missing one more of Resident Evil's hallmark features; Progressing the plot through diaries and letters left by their deceased authors. Sweet Home does this too with pages torn out of notebooks, dying messages writ in blood, and still cognizant corpses. As the party progresses through the house's puzzles, the gruesome truth behind the death of Lady Mamiya's baby and the local child kidnappings comes to light. The team will need to assemble the evidence of her terrible crimes in life to exorcise her spiteful spirit in death.
If the haunted aesthetic of the game was crafted by Fujiwara Tokuro, the Ghosts ‘n Goblins director and future general producer of Resident Evil, than we can assume that the cinematic flair was imbued by filmmaker Itami Juzo. Renowned for his satirical works like Tampopo and The Funeral, Itami had teamed up with Capcom and Fujiwara in the past to produce a Famicom adventure game adaptation of A Taxing Woman, his black comedy about a female IRS agent hounding the yakuza to come clean with their cooked books.
Before his breakout hit with Cure, Kurosawa was stuck doing pink films like Kandagawa Pervert Wars for Nikkatsu. Through a lucky twist of fate, he met Itami on the set of The Excitement of the Do-Re-Mi-Fa Girl, a bawdy college sex romp where the seventy-year old actor played a lecherous professor who was very hands-on with his students. Itami took the promising director under his wing and showed him how to manufacture a hit in the industry—a bit too forcefully as it turned out.
The senior producer immediately wrested over creative control, bringing on Nokko, singer from the rock band Rebecca, for extra mainstream appeal, and, in typical Itami fashion, cast his wife Miyamoto Nobuko in the lead. He then proceeded to re-edit the movie without the director’s knowledge for the coup de grace. We’ll never know what Kurosawa’s vision of the film was—the final print shown in theaters and released on VHS is the Itami cut. As to be expected, the incident led to irreconcilable differences between the filmmakers, leaving the intellectual rights and possible remakes of the movie or game in legal limbo.