reviewed on NDS
What’s a horror game without scares?
Over the last few weeks I’ve been faced with a bit of a conundrum: How do you classify a survival horror game completely devoid of scares? I’ve had the misfortune to play one such game this month: Dementium: The Ward for the Nintendo DS, a game that tries to be mature and hardcore on the system best known for simpler, more casual games. Unfortunately, it has failed in that aspect as well as numerous others. Shall we begin?
First off, let me clarify what I meant about the whole horror part of the game. It actually starts out pretty good, with a full-motion scene depicting your nameless character being wheeled into a hospital where things are going... horribly wrong. Throngs of vaguely humanoid creatures walk the halls; blood is strewn over the walls. You’re left in a room, you wake up, and you start the game. This here is one of the game’s main problems with the scares: you have no idea where you are, who you are, or why you are there. There is practically no story to the game, and thus, the game has no way of setting up any atmosphere. You simply walk the halls trying to find out what happened, but since everyone else is dead or incapable of human speech, you never really get anywhere with the search.
Lots of blood
Unfortunately, the art direction doesn’t help much either. Pretty much every hall and every room you’re going to encounter looks exactly the same, so you’ll actually be accidentally backtracking countless times, and it won’t be until you find a large room that can actually be recognized that you’ll realize this and drudge back from wherever you came. The only distinguishing feature of the halls is the amount of blood on the walls, which ranges from copious to insane; often so much so that any scares it could have created is removed. The amount of carnage crosses the invisible line between ‘atmospheric’ and ‘over-the-top’, any scares that could have been had are lost by the sheer ridiculousness of it all.
Horrible sound effects
The sound doesn’t fare much better, with each area’s music consisting of a ten-second loop of piano, which succeeds in setting the mood but gets annoying once you’ve heard it seven million times. The sound effects, for the most part, are decent; but unfortunately the enemy cries bring down everything that’s good in the sound category. The second enemy you encounter in the game (and you’ll see them till the very end) is some weird worm that continually cries like a human child. If they would only do this once or twice it would be fine, maybe even adding to the atmosphere a bit, but they -never- shut up. It’s actually a real mood-killer, and seeing as these things swarm you, chances are that their cries will be stuck with you for a long time to come. This applies to pretty much every enemy; think Resident Evil 4’s villagers having -only- one one-liner and repeating it every two seconds. It makes the game even less scary by taking the game even further away from reality.
No Pros and Cons at this time