Just when you think the nightmares in Dementium: The Ward has ended, they begin again. In this first person survival horror, players once again return as William Redmoor, who wakes in a disoriented state at a secret facility called Bright Dawn Treatment Center. As you awake, you’re not alone. You wake to a man beside you who’s cuffed to his bed mumbling incoherent words while a nurse is at your other side telling you that you have received brain surgery to “fix” your mental state. The nurse proceeds to tell you that you have been unconscious for nearly five weeks. Before you have time to fully comprehend what has happened to you, you are dragged away by two guards who take you back to your cell. It’s shortly after this the hell begins anew.
Both games in the series were originally released on the Nintendo DS system and had very unique gameplay mechanics. You move forward and backwards with the D pad while you use the stylist to move the camera angle and look around in three dimensions. You also use the stylist to aim your weapons and so forth. While this style of gameplay was interesting, it was one you had to certainly get used to with the high potability of frequent hand cramps. With the release of Dementium II on PC, it has eliminated that awkward and uncomfortable gameplay style that the DS controls had. You now have the choice to either play with a controller or keyboard which makes gameplay comfortable and not as much of a hassle.
With a new way of playing Dementium II comes an update in graphic quality. It’s clear by first glance that the game has been given an overhaul with its updated graphics and added details to texture. You can really tell that this wasn’t just some minor texture update or a lazy port from a handheld. Unfortunately with the new graphics it adds nothing to the horror aspect that this game is supposed to be. That element is all but gone even though the monsters are now shown in more detail. I found myself being more annoyed by the horrible sounds that some of them made than being frighten of them. At least the infamous doctor in the game who’s voice stalks you from time to time and sounds a little like Hannibal from Silence of the Lambs is a pleasant change. The music was also something else that took away from the horror that is supposed to be Dementium. When an enemy would appear, music would start to play on an infinite loop which quickly becomes repetitive and is something I wish they had thought about changing when updating the game.
Unlike the first game, II has added more levels than just the hospital as the backdrop which makes levels feel slightly less repetitive. Players are taken from inside the asylum, which is dark and bleak, to an outside world filled with snow. During the game you are also transported to this other worldly setting at random that’s filled with chains, spikes and other beastly looking contraptions which reminds me of something out of a Unreal Gold level or a Clive Barker novel. The change in other world reminded me of something taken right out of Silent Hill. There was no real explanation as to what’s going on unless you thoroughly search areas to find papers for clues. That is the only link in telling you what is happening in this games story. There are a few added cut scenes in this game but they are only a few seconds long and will add nothing to the story to help you understand what is going on.
While I liked the update of the graphics and being able to play it on a keyboard vs. the DS, the lack in storytelling is what ultimately brought the game down. The story line is so simplistic, I wish it had more to it. You can sum up the whole story in a paragraph or two. Because of this it just felt like a repeat from the first game with a few bits and pieces left out. The only difference being the graphics and new settings. If this series continues any further I hope that it expands on its story with more complexity while telling it through more cut scenes, and less papers laying around randomly that you could possibly miss. The replay value of this game is also very low for me. The only other time I can see myself playing this is if I want to work on the achievements.
What made the series stand out on their DS release is the fact that they were Survival Horror games, which is quite uncommon on Nintendo handheld consoles. Now that it has been ported to the PC it falls short with all the top horror games that have been released lately. I think Dementium is a good time if you have no other horror games to play and are able to get it at a very cheap price.
I should add that while I was playing this game something very odd happened. I’m sure this glitch is rare, but during game play my melee weapons stopped working suddenly. Thanks to my survival horror game habits I was able to save up enough ammo throughout the game to be able to survive by running from some of the monsters and only using the guns for boss fights. The worst glitch of all was when I needed to save the game. I had about three hours left of game play and the save spots stopped working. Instead of ending the game there and starting over I was determined to finish. Luckily I was able to make it through without dying. As I said, I’m sure this glitch is rare but it was something I wanted to point out in case it decided to show up again.