Developer: Renegade Kid
Publisher: SouthPeak Games
There are quite a few rail shooters on the DS and Dementium: The Ward has gone completely off the rails, which is good. As for the plot, well, you begin your adventure being dragged legs first through a blood spattered hospital and into a room where the door is then slammed shut. Here starts the adventure: you have no idea why you’re here or how you got here, mysteriously the door is open…Oh, and like Bolton town centre and all good horror films it’s chucking it down outside.
The game is a first person survival horror. Ammo is sparse and so are the weapons; if you find a weapon it will be locked away and you’ll have to go traipsing around for the answer or key to unlock it. You soon find a torch to light up the wailing monsters of The Ward, and they are fairly repulsive. Sadly there are only a few monsters repeated throughout the game.
The game is split into chapters and each one introduced by a brief cutscene of something quite disturbing, every chapter acts as a checkpoint and the game usually saves when you walk through certain doors. Although, this is a weird system as you’ll go back to the start of a chapter when you die, despite the game saying it’s saving; it seems to save your health and ammo levels but not where you got to in the level. This increases the difficulty somewhat in the earlier portion of the game. Trust me, this game is no play in the park from beginning to end.
You have a handy notepad to make notes on with the stylus, very useful when you find a clue painted on the wall in blood that’s on the other side of the floor. The weapons themselves aren’t really any different from the standard zombie slaying norm. Crowbar, Pistol, Shotgun; not revolutionary although *spoiler alert* the electric buzz saw was satisfying.
The lighting effects are good and the graphics are not too shabby and whilst they aren’t Metroid Prime: Hunters standard you can see that Renegade Kid have put in the effort, which is nice, as you don’t have to squint at everything on the screen. Control-wise they’ve gone for a sort of Metroid Prime: Hunters method which is probably the best way to play if uncomfortable after a while. You aim with the stylus and fire with R, whilst L will cycle through your available weapons. The other screen displays your heart rate: green and you’re fine; amber means go cautiously; and red, run like the clappers.
The downside of playing is the fact that the floors (or levels) the game is split into are massive. If you’ve not found the map for the required floor you can end up going around in circles, which would be fine if the enemies didn’t respawn every time you re-entered a room. Go through the wrong door and it could be curtains for you.
Overall: Dementium: The Ward is not without its faults but you could do worse on the DS. It manages to re-create an impressively tense atmosphere on your twin screens. Draw your curtains, switch out your lights, plug in your headphones and enjoy some creepiness. If it’s your genre then I’d say buy, if not give it a rent first.