I’m on vacation at the moment (cooling my heels in Southern California on the beach) and trying to catch up on my DS gaming. I’m like three Phoenix Wright versions behind, and my friends are already on their second play-through of The World Ends With You. I tried to play some more of Dementium: The Ward, but I’m having trouble staying interested in it.
The problem is two-fold: first, the story is mostly non-existent: you’re trapped in a crazy mental institution, get out. I mean, there’s probably more to it than that, but so far that’s all I’ve encountered. The level design doesn’t properly build tension either: though there is blood splattered everywhere, there’s no sense that things are getting better or worse as you progress; it’s just more similar-looking hallways and lots and lots of closets.
The bigger problem, though, is the save system. The game helpfully auto-saves for you every time you enter a new room, so you can turn the machine off at any time and come back to where you were. However, if you die your save file is reset to the beginning of the chapter, forcing you to redo work. This might have been an OK idea if the chapters were short, but they’re not; twice I’ve played for close to an hour only to die at the exact same location and lose all of my progress. Losing two hours of game play (not to mention two hours covering the same material) is a pretty bad flaw, and it’s enough for me to put the game down.
That said, the rest of the game works ok. Being on the DS doesn’t hamper the horror factor at all, though the aforementioned story problems keep the game from being very scary. The stylus-based mouse look works perfectly, and I like the infinite-beam flashlight. I hope that the game gets better because the components are all there.