Banshee's Last Cry (Kamaitachi no Yoru in Japan) was the second sound novel created by Chunsoft after the release of Otogirisou. The game was originally released for the Super Famicom on November 25, 1994 and has since been ported to several consoles and mobile devices. The game has also spawned a series of sequels that have thus far been released exclusively on Sony console hardware. Aksys Games released the iOS version of Banshee's Last Cry in North America in 2014, making it the first officially available English language release. The localization was headed by Jeremy Blaustein, who adapted the story's 1990s Japanese setting to that of contemporary North America.
Like most visual novels, the gameplay involves the player reading the text from the game screen, and making decisions which will affect the path and outcome of the narrative. The choices and consequences form a big part of the gameplay, with the narrative often branching out in completely different directions depending on what choices the player makes, with even seemingly minor decisions having a big impact on how the narrative unfolds. In total, the game has over forty different endings.
The game follows a psychological horror narrative that revolves around Tōru (Max in the English localization) and his girlfriend Mari (Grace in English), who are suddenly drawn into a horrible murder mystery while on vacation at a skiing lodge (in Japan in the original, and Canada in the English version). The story unfolds as the characters attempt to solve the mystery. Additional murders occur if the player is unable to find clues, and the story culminates in a number of endings befitting a horror tale.
When the player completes the main story with a certain number of different endings, two additional stories are unlocked; the occult chapter and spy chapter. When all three stories are finished with every possible ending, two more stories that serve as self-parodies also become available. Fulfilling one final requirement allows the player to unlock a parody of Torneko no Daibōken: Fushigi no Dungeon.
The additional stories cover a wide variety of themes, and are mostly unrelated to each other and to the main story. The same set of characters appear in each narrative, but the settings differ in significant ways.
After the sleeper success of Cunsoft's previous sound novel, Otogirisou, many fans mailed the company with feedback on the game. One of the most popular requests was that the next sound novel be a mystery game. So Chunsoft sent letters to around 20 different novelists in Japan that specialized in the genre, asking them if they would be interested in working on a new title with them. One of the novelists they contacted was Takemaru Abiko, a writer famous for his mystery fiction such as "The 8 Mansion Murders", who was a fan of Chunsoft's work on Otogirisou. He accepted the invite and would go on to work with Chunsoft on the entire Kamaitachi no Yoru franchise as well as other Chunsoft titles such as Trick x Logic.
Banshee's Last Cry became one of Chunsoft's most popular titles; the combined sales of all editions, including ports and remakes, totals nearly a million copies. The game's success in Japan also led to adaptations into other media, including novelizations, a radio drama, and a made-for-television film.
The game's popularity encouraged other developers to create similar titles, expanding the term sound novel into a genre of its own outside of Chunsoft's franchise and eventually inspiring the creation of new genres including visual novels.
Following the game's English release in 2014, Banshee's Last Cry has been well received in western media. Iain Garner, in his review published on both Yahoo and Games in Asia, gave the game a score of 9 out of 10, praising the choices and consequences as well as the story itself.