July 2nd, 2008, 01:39 Posted By: Shadowblind
With an a new "card" for my DS, I have been inspired to go back to my forsaken DS and try out more DS games. Safe to say you can probably expect more NDS game reviews from here on out.
Dementium: The Ward
Developer: Renegade Kid
Genre: Survival-Horror FPS
An ideal example for later Horror games on DS. Sort of.
In Dementium: The Ward, the take the role of an unnamed admitted patient to a mental hospital. After awakening in a daze, you find yourself one a blood-soaked bed in one of the rooms. Thats not the only blood-drenched feature you find in the hospital, as you soon realize that this may either be a hospital, or a butchery. Fight with up to 8 different weapons against a myriad of horrific monsters as you strive to understand the secrets of Dementium: The Ward.
You wake up in the hospital...
And thats as near close to a story as you get in this game. The storyline is one thing thats not a major seller for Dementium. As far as interaction with others in this game, you get absolutely none, which makes you depend on various notes and clipboards in the mental asylum to figure out the story. Even then, even after you pieced everything together, you'll find yourself thinking "Oh...really. Well thats a twist...I think." Suffice to say, the storyline never goes beyond a single idea to make it good, and even that idea is a bit overused. I think I should back up a bit and talk about the beginning. The Prologues in games are usually one of the single most important parts of the storyline, where it sets the setting, most characters, and the general idea and gist that the game was trying to make its players feel. Not this one. The beginning is literally just you being rolled in a wheelchair through a blood-and-guts filled hospital with demonic little girls and zombies in it. This lasts about 15 seconds. Next thing you know, you wake up on your nasty bed, and go to beat up some monsters. Now this game does have cut-scenes(surprise.), but for the most part, they are only there to introduce you to new monsters, or to fight a boss. There is almost no spoken dialogue in the game, and the written dialogue is usually just confusing. If you get horror games for the often-superb storyline, then well, this game isn't for you.
Gore - Now in 3D
And I'm not talking about the tree hugger. Dementium is one of the few games to sport a high res 3-dimensional engine on the DS. Enemies too are fully rendered in 3D, and they are probably the high point of the 3D engine in Dementium. The enemies, although they may look at sometimes more funny then scary, are very well done for a DS game, and look even better then most N64 game enemies. Sometimes the enemies can look downright stupid, though. Take for example the screaming heads, or "banshees". Scary, sure, but not because of how they look. They look more similar to a cats head with madusa snakes then a decapitated woman's head. Regardless of a few fimply dumb looking enemies, Renegade Kid showed devs that full 3D is not only possible on the DS, it can be made both good, and solid. By solid, I mean that there are little to no clipping issues, glitches, textural errors, framerate issues, or pop-in. The engine is about as hard as a rock. Anyway. Environments are mainly texture based, as just about every wall and floor in the game is the same white wall with blood on it. Courtyard levels prove a little more varying, with some walls looking decrepid and old, and others having rusted surface on it. Now about the darkness. Renegade Kid went beserk when it comes to shadowing areas. To put it simply, when you fire at most enemies, you won't know whether you hit them or not. The flashlight illuminates these areas, but to shoot your gun you have to switch back to a gun, thus making you basically blind for far enemies. It has a severe case of Doom 3-itus to it, except you can't even melee with it this time around. But to be truthful, this game really wouldn't be scary at all without every room being dark as hell. Still, it becomes very frustrating, especially when fighting zombies that spit acid further then you can see. Environments are littered with, well, litter, among other things. Blood splashed trash cans, hospital beds, medicine cabinets and many other hospital-esqe appliances pervade, and often impede, the world of Dementium.
The 3D engine at work. And it does some good work.
Sound. The music is one of the major defining features to make this game a horror game. Creepy organ and piano music plays while grunts of zombies and screams echo the hallways. There is an option to turn off the music though, in which case the game does became a good deal less scary. Though the scariest thing here is that most of the music all sounds exactly the same. Another odd designer choice is that some certain rooms don't have music at all, and I still can't well figure out what sets these rooms apart from the others. Music is the scary to this games sound department. Occasionally the sound effects offer a little shiver, but it was too apparent that Renegade Kid was arbitrarily trying to make it scary, so most of the enemies just come off sounding funny. Can't blame them too much, creating a scary handheld game is quite possibly one of the hardest things a dev can do. To that end the sound and music does make the game a good deal scarier--but that doesn't mean that either is very good. They both work though they will get annoying.
I bet he's friendly.
A bit broken, but survival horror at the core
This game may very well be the first well made attempt at survival horror for the DS. Coming into a world of E and E10 rated games pervading the DS's huge library of games, Dementium sets itself apart, which can be seen even from the cover art(Which looks conspicuously like Final Doom. Anyone else catch that?). Dementium is a survival horror game to its core. It has the classic ideas at heart, such as limited ammo, few health packs, and a barrage of demonic monsters that don't seem to care how much ammo you have to waste on them to dispatch them. Ammo does become a bit more plentiful in the later levels, but you'll find yourself running past most enemies to try and conserve ammo for the most part. Beginning weapons are about as imaginative as my toenail, but later weapons are, while not exactly creative, welcome changes from the boring pistol and shotgun. now, the core shooting isn't exactly Metroid Hunters. Control works great, but some issues with the crosshair and where the bullet goes present problems. And even if the enemy is in visible sight, if your crosshair isn't red, you can't hit him. Most enemies, specifically the banshee, take an unnecessarily long time to kill with weapons, and with ammo very limited, that becomes a frustrating problem. Boss battles are rather fun, but some normal enemies are even harder then the bosses. Some intelligently designed puzzles are thrown into the game, but some become an annoyance to try and complete, such as the one to obtain the buzzsaw. You have to backtrack a good bit in that level, and every time you reenter a room, all the enemies you previously slain are respawned, to make you waste as much ammo as possible. Don't take this all the wrong way though; the shooter mechanics are a bit broken, but by no means bad. They worked well and fine, but many smaller annoyances can ruin some to most of the experience. Another thing is de ja vu. Most levels look extremely similar to one another, and may very well be, seeing as there are little to now landmarks to make me think otherwise. Core level design is done decently, but repetition may get on your nerves.
Puzzles are consistantly numeric based.
One way through, no two ways about it
Replay value isn't Dementiums strong point. No multiplayer, no branching stories, and as far as I can tell, no different difficulties. The story mode is a decent length, but after that theres very little to do. I can't see myself playing through this a second time, and I doubt you will be either.
Major Selling Points:
-- A full survival horror adventure
-- M rated on the DS
-- Good scary game
-- Great 3D engine
Major breaking Points:
-- Small Story
-- Sub-par FPS control
-- Repitition shows itself later in the game
Even with notes and booklets and whatnot, the story behind Dementium is, at best, flat.
One of the best 3D engines on the DS, and some of the best enemy models. Pity most environments look exactly the same.
Music becames repetitive, and sound effects prove to be the main scary part of the game. Music is a bit scary though.
An addition to the needed FPS genre on the DS, though the shooter mechanics need work. The survival horror is definatly there.
Replay Value: 2.5/5
A bit of a decent sized champaign mode, but after that you are done. Totally done. honestly though, If multiplayer was in here, I wouldn't want it. The shooter mechanics would be painful.
It really depends on how starved for a horror game you are on the DS. If your dying for one, heres your man. if not...well that comes into personal preference.
Dementium raises no bars on the horror genre, but for DS, it sets a standard. Still, a bit better of an FPS nature to it wouldn't have hurt any.
Audio reviews canceled.
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