-From the intro of the Blind Man arc.
Shin Hayarigami (真 流行り神 — True Sudden Popular God) is the fourth Survival Horror Visual Novel game from the Hayarigami series to be released by Nippon Ichi for the Playstation 3 and the Playstation Vita in Japan on August 4, 2014 via physical and digital release on the PS Store with another release under "The Best Price" label on July 23, 2015 for both physical and digital release. The game was released in Korea by NIS and distributed via IntraGames via physical and digital release on April 30, 2015 only on the Playstation Vita with the game having Korean subtitles. It made gaming history as it's one of the few visual novels published by NIS with a CERO Z rating, due to the violent and scary content.
A tie-in novel titled Shin Hayarigami ~File Zero: Tokoyami no Maria (真 流行り神 〜ファイル0 常闇のマリア〜 - True Sudden Popular God ~ File Zero: Maria's Eternal Darkness ~) was published by Hifumi on December 5, 2014. Like the game itself, it's not available outside of Asia.
It's the first Hayarigami game to be released without any numbers on the title, since the production team mentioned that they want the game to serve as a fresh start for players who want to play it, but are unfamiliar with the franchise at all. So don't expect any form of Continuity Nod. Several elements returns from the main trilogy, such as "Inference Logic", "Self-Question" and "Courage Points", while the new game mechanic making its debut is "Liar's Art". It allows players to question suspects, witnesses and persons of interest in order to determine how a case can proceed with any answer that they give.
The game takes place in a fictional, but unnamed prefecture (known as Prefecture S) and village (known as Village C) where players take on the role of Saki Hojo, a female police officer who has been with the force for a few months after graduating from the local police academy. Blind Man, a Serial Killer from urban myth, has been deemed a suspect for killing people in the prefecture by taking their eyes and tongues out. Due to this problem, the National Police Agency has brought in Sojiro Sekimoto, an ex-university occultist professor who was arrested in 2012 for being involved in the death of a university student under his watch. Thanks to a distant relative in the Public Prosecutor's Office note , he was placed in the custody of the S Prefectural Police. Sekimoto and Saki team up, relying on the former's expertise to determine if Blind Man is someone trying to take advantage of the urban myth or if the paranormal really is starting to get involved. But the Blind Man case isn't the only one Saki and the police need to investigate.
From there on, the duo would need to investigate other cases that may or may not tie to various urban legends.
Because of the multiple story paths that can diverge over time, not all of the tropes mentioned are canon.
There's a finished Let's Play of the game with GirlGamerGab playing it and later translating the Japanese subtitles to English with some help. Do note that what she translates while playing it may conflict with the subs since she's playing without any prior knowledge at first before the videos gets edited and uploaded to the internet.
The game's six chapters are being released in Japan as smartphone episode games for iOS and Google Play for those who have Japanese accounts only. An English release for iOS and Google Play was also made available on the 15th of March, 2018, locailized by I-Play from South Korea. Their social media rep that they're looking at 10K downloads before they would start to localize the other chapters. As of 2019, they announced that all translation for the other chapters are on hiatus as they wanted to monitor all reviews and reaction from non-Japanese gamers. However, the app is taken offline as of 2020.
The game is followed by a sequel, Shin Hayarigami 2. Saki returns as the main protagonist. GirlGamerGab has once again returned to translate it, and thankfully, that too is finished.
Shin Hayarigami contains examples of:
- All There in the Manual: The official website gives the characters their bios, including their age and background.
- And I Must Scream: This fate awaits anyone who gets killed by Blind Man or by something or someone else.
- Anti-Frustration Features: Shin Hayarigami has "Friend of a Friend Database", which records useful terms and phrases to help a player understand the meaning behind it. There's also a flowchart you can use to play a case from another angle in case something went wrong.
- Anyone Can Die: If you go down one path to solve a case, expect a few characters to die along the way. Other characters can die if you play a case from another angle.
- Arc Words: From the Blind Man story - Hand over your eyes.
- Bloody Horror/Bloodier and Gorier: Unlike the three Hayarigami games, Shin shows a lot of blood to put the scare factor in, such as the Blind Man's victims bleeding to death with their eyes and tongue removed after being attacked. This is the reason why CERO gave the game a Z rating.
- Cops Need the Vigilante: Sekimoto beats the living daylights out of a suspect arrested by S Prefectural Police for killing Kazamori during a manhunt since he was getting confused due to illegal dietary prescription medicine. The beatings, however, was able to make the suspect snap out of his confusion and he wasn't in trouble since he was a Boxed Crook brought in as an occult consultant. But the suspect later decides to commit suicide by biting the tongue as a final "FUCK YOU" to the police as he bleeds to death.
- Do Well, but Not Perfect: You can complete a case and get, for instance, a B or C rank and still earn some of the hidden cutscene movies.
- Earn Your Bad Ending: If you're a completionist, you need to something stupid to earn some of the endings like being the scapegoat of an information leak or getting killed by zombies.
- Multiple Endings: However, there are other endings in the game, most good, some bad and a few funny endings.
- Event Flag: This happens when you get to the Self-Question phase of a case investigation. Choosing a response will diverge to solve the case with a logical or a paranormal belief. Not only that, but most of the paths will involve different people dying or unmasked as the suspect/s.
- Gameplay Grading: The ranks (From good to worse) consist of S, A, B, C and D. Getting a good score allows you to get more unlockables.
- Rank Inflation: Getting a good score depends on how players complete a case, such as the usage of Courage Points during "Liar's Art".
- Genre Savvy: When Sekimoto was brought out of the courthouse and out via unmarked squad car, the TMPD ordered the officers to head to the hospital as "officially instructed" for psychiatric evaluation. But while in the underground parking lot, they switched to another car that had tinted windows so that the paparazzis won't be able to see them inside and won't be hounded.
- Guide Dang It!: If you're not fluent in Japanese, are not good in visual novel gaming or are having trouble getting all the endings, you will need a guide to help you out.
- Kill Itwith Fire: HAZMAT teams are brought in on a case that deals with a parasitic worm that invades S Prefecture via flamethrowers.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: How Saki (and the police) treats cases that are seemingly paranormal in nature.
- Mythology Gag: The RA detectives take on the Blind Man, a mysterious serial killer who takes out the victim's eyes and tongue. This was in the first Hayarigami game when Kazami and Kogure were assigned the first case together to investigate claims of a serial killer in Tokyo.
- Multi-Platform: The game was developed for the PS3 and PS Vita.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Especially if you're pursuing a case that has the supernatural as the only reasonable answer.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Saki and the rest of the Special RA detectives are not pleased when they learn that the National Police Agency wants their "cases" to be solved ASAP by blaming it on a convenient suspect who happens to be in the way, despite the fact that the said person is not Blind Man.
- Omniscient Database: The Friend of a Friend database returns from the past Hayarigami games.
- Police Are Useless: Played with on both sides. The good guys are police officers working in a small division that doesn't get noticed a lot, which allows them to investigate any unusual cases tossed to them without getting any serious attention. On the other hand, the high-ranking officers will feel the need to get a case closed and shut if they need to by blaming the events of a case on someone else. Sekimoto calls out a lot on this practice.
- Seeking the Missing, Finding the Dead: During the investigation on the Blind Man, Sekimoto urges Saki and the section to locate one of his missing students involved in brainstorming the Blind Man mythos. He was found dead by Saki and Kazamori after investigating his residence.
- Shown Their Work: When Sekimoto is first brought into an unmarked police vehicle, Kazamori mentions that he probably was released under their custody via plea bargain, which is illegal since Japanese criminal law doesn't recognize it as a legal tool. Several public prosecutors who had tried this had gotten into trouble.
- The Siege: Saki and the other S Prefectural police officers barricade the station after zombies overwhelms the anti-personnel fortifications outside.
- Story Branching: While certain elements stay the same like the identity of the Blindman, suspects/witnesses in other cases change over time depending on the choice made like Kuroda and Misuzu turning into zombies.
- Survival Horror: The game's environment. Since it's a visual novel, Saki won't be able to fight the enemy head on except to carefully make the right choice and hopefully, she or her colleagues are still alive before the case is over.
- Stealing the Credit: Sometimes, the RA Section gets shoved to the side without giving them proper credit for securing vital evidence to other departments/police forces in Japan. This, understandably, pisses them off.
- Urban Legend: The main scope of the game like all other Hayarigami games.
- Who You Gonna Call?: The Special RA Section gets called in for the urban legend-based cases in S Prefecture. Since they officially support other department when manpower becomes an issue, they're able to investigate the assigned case/s without raising too much suspicion.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Saki and the RA officers confront them in a possible path during a case investigation, the odds being against them. Kuroda and Misuzu at one point turn into zombies.