Michigan: Report from Hell is a Playstation 2 title that was developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, directed by Akira Ueda, and planned by Suda 51. It was published by Spike in Japan and by 505 Games in Europe, but the game was never given an official North American release.
The game focuses on a news crew from Zaka TV, which is dedicated to covering news revolving around strange phenomena and mysterious happenings. The game is unique in that it's played primarily from the viewfinder of the protagonist's video camera. If the camera runs out of film before the investigation is completed, the game is lost.
Confusingly, the game's title refers to Lake Michigan, and not the state of Michigan. The actual setting is just outside of Chicago, Illinois.
The player's primary objective in the game is to investigate a mysterious mist that has descended upon a town near Lake Michigan. This mist is inexplicably mutating people into hideously deformed masses of flesh and limbs. Early on, Pamela, Zaka TV's star reporter, is attacked by one of these leech-like monsters and is later found in the process of mutating into one herself. The rest of the news crew is forced to kill the misshapen thing that Pamela became. The player is accompanied on their investigations thereon by a new reporter, and Brisco, the boom microphone operator.
Over the course of the investigation, the team determines that the mist originated from the laboratory of a Dr. O'Conner, who was experimenting in genetic weapons for use by the government. The team attempts to recover a cure for the virus from the doctor's laboratory, but fail and are forced to flee.
As the crew prepare to evacuate, they happen across an odd man in the airport. The man reveals that he was Dr. O'Conner's original test subject; he begins to behave in a bizarre manner, forcing the player to tag him as an enemy. When the reporter kills the man, the strange mist vanishes. It's speculated by the characters that the man somehow served as the focal point for the the genetic mutations and mist, and his death brought an end to the threat.
Michigan is played from a first-person perspective through the viewfinder of a video camera. The player takes control of a rookie cameraman accompanied by a microphone operator and a lead reporter that explore the game's setting. Interaction with the environment is accomplished by having the cameraman "tag" items for the reporter to examine and interact with. For example, by tagging an item that is a clue to the mystery, the reporter makes a detailed report on the object. By tagging a monster or enemy, the reporter draws a weapon and fights it.
The main objective of the game is to report on all of the clues and events of interest associated with a mysterious mist that has descended upon a town near Lake Michigan. In addition to the primary objectives, the player can also earn various special points by taking specific types of shots with the camera, much like the bonuses applied to creative camera use in Dead Rising. The three types of points awarded are Erotic, Immoral, and Suspenseful Points.
- "Erotic points" are obtained by obtaining perverted footage such as up-skirt shots of the reporter or other female characters and by filming pornographic magazines or images that can be found randomly throughout levels.
- "Immoral points" are obtained by filming sensational, yet tragic events that could have been stopped by the player, such as a civilian or reporter being devoured by a monster.
- "Suspenseful points" are the most common, earned through good camera work and the recording of primary evidence/objectives.
The outcome of the game is directly effected by which type of points the player got the most of.
The player's activities directly impact the well-being of the reporter. If the player tags certain objects that draw the reporter's attention while monsters approach, the reporter can be killed. If they player character is not also killed, the level ends prematurely, and the next level begins with a new reporter sent in to fill their place. There is no penalty for the death of a reporter, but the number of bonuses unlocked at the game's conclusion corresponds with the number of reporters killed; the fewer reporters killed, the more alternate costumes that are unlocked for them at the conclusion of the game. By keeping the initial reporter alive throughout the entire game, a plethora of alternate costumes are unlocked, but no bonus costumes are earned if all of the reporters are killed, forcing the player to film the final level with Zaka TV's sole male reporter.