Dementium: The Ward Review

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     When most people think portable games, especially on Nintendo’s portable platforms, they usually are thought of as light hearted and are usually rated by the ESRB as “E” for everyone or “T” for teens. The developer Renegade Kid decided instead to go for a grittier game then we are use to on the Nintendo DS. Dementium has zombie like enemies, cheap scares and dark corridors that are all so common in many other survival horror titles. With the limited capabilities of the DS it seems unlikely that a game could reach the levels of a console survival horror game. Will Dementium: The Ward keep you awake at night, or will it quickly put you to sleep?


     You wake up in a dark hospital filled with hideous medical experiments. While roaming the halls of the hospital you will run into a small girl who simply runs away. “Exactly who is this girl and why am I here?” Are the only questions you will be searching for in the game. There are a few cut scenes here and there but rarely do they feel significant. They are just a reminder that there is some what of a story, since it will be almost completely non-existent through the entire game. It does have a twist at the very end but that means you have to play through the entire game before finding anything out. There’s voice acting for all the cut scenes , but considering there are so few lines of dialog you won’t be hearing it much and it sounds decent at best.

     With so little story and no multi-player a game like Dementium would need a killer single player. While Dementium succeeds in some places, it fails in most places. Aiming your gun has pin point precision. If you miss, chances are its your fault. Melee combat feels a bit clunky though, It feels like the hit box is just floating in some space in front of you and it’s difficult to predict where that space is. There is a wide variety of weapons, from pistols to assault rifles, but the buzz saw seems a bit over powered. Using the touch screen to change weapons can be frustrating when things get tough, all the weapons are lined up on the bottom of the screen but clicking on specific ones while fending off monsters is hard to do. Using the flash light is fun and is easy to control, there is a button that will automatically change to your flash light or previously equipped weapon which helps with unexpected encounters. Navigating the environment can be a hassle at times, getting stuck in objects for a few seconds and strangely placed invisible walls are common place. Running doesn’t feel nearly as fast as it should, you’ll find your self inputing the running command again to see if you were running or walking. Besides navigating and shooting there a few puzzles but some of them are obscure, leaving you scratching your head, but it’s a nice change of pace.


     As you progress through Dementium you will notice something… all of the halls and rooms are starting to look more and more familiar. Eventually it’s very hard to distinguish where you have and haven’t been. There is a map but they have very specific blockades through the whole area, limiting where you can or can’t go. Problem is these blockades are not display on the map. Making it confusing at times when you’re unsure of where to go. It’s even worse when you can’t find the map, which can happen often since they don’t stand out as much as they should, despite glowing gold. Level design becomes quickly dull and boring when you realize the hospital is essentially a maze of halls with most of the doors being locked. When you do come across rooms they are the same rooms you have seen before. This, along with the lack of a story, leaves little room for the feeling of progression. Only the start of a new chapter and boss fights really keep the game flowing. On the flip side it is very easy to lose thirty minutes or more of game play. You can go throughout an entire chapter and die at the very end, and it will force you to restart from the very beginning of a chapter. The strange lay out makes it difficult to remember exactly where you went, so you can just speed back through a chapter to where you were before..

     Dementium’s visuals and soundtrack does a great job setting up the atmosphere for the hospital. Most of the game is very dark and requires a flashlight. Blood covers most walls and many corpses can be found but oddly enough enemies just dissipate. Each enemy has a unique and spooky look to it and have equally creepy voices. You will jump more then a few times at the sound of the flying heads screaming down the hallways. Dementium suffers from reused assets though, you will be seeing lots of the exact same enemies through the game just re textured slightly in later portions to represent that it’s stronger then earlier versions of the monster. Some bosses are reused and some are just rooms with lots of enemies that appear as a boss fight but isn’t really one. The music seems to cue randomly though in certain rooms, and while each individual track sounds great, they all sound very similar and will be hard to tell the difference from the last one you listened to. Sound effects are fine except for the buzz saw which makes an annoying loud sound the entire time you have it out.


     Dementium’s story will take you less then six hours to complete, but the whole experience is just bland and boring from navigating what seems like a endless amount of hallways and killing the same enemies over and over again. The only mode in Dementium is the story mode, you can replay the story and that’s about it and there is only one difficulty setting so you can’t up the challenge. You can find Dementium for about $10 to $20 but great controls do not warrant a purchase. It was a ambitious effort but it falls short in too many ways to really be worth a purchase. Dementium 2 was announced at E3 and hopefully it will hit closer to their original vision.

Score: 6.0

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