|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Renegade Kid||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Gamecock Media Group||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 31, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The fluidity of the "mouse look" control scheme makes exploration and combat a breeze with one exception: you'll be forced to choose between actually being able to see your attackers as they approach or blasting away a few shots before they get within close proximity.
Most players will rely so heavily on the flashlight for exploration that, after enough encounters with the drooling denizens of dark, switching over to a weapon with split-second timing becomes second nature. It would have been nice to have the capacity to use the flashlight while you're firing or swinging away, yet it's a minor issue. Unless you feel up for a good melee - a dangerous prospect in many cases due to constantly re-spawning creatures and limited health pickups - you'll be forced to make pot shots into the dark. Your crosshairs turn red when a foe is in your line of sight, and the temporary illumination afforded by firing off a round is helpful for adjusting your aim, but it's difficult to hit your target if it's moving.
Initially, the flashlight is the only tool at your disposal, aside from an unsatisfying police club picked up shortly afterward. Most of the weapons you'll come across are standard fare including a pistol, shotgun, machine gun, and a few others. One of the most powerful - and coolest - weapons is a bone saw found relatively early on. Obtaining it is no easy feat, however, but the rewards are hefty. Once guns and other weapons come into play the game starts to feel slightly more first-person shooter oriented, but it never fully devolves into a blast everything that moves mentality. For the most part, emphasis is always on navigating the various areas of the hospital to progress the story. If flesh-eating creatures happen to get in your way then so be it, sucks to be them. The air of mystery about what's going on in the story is strong enough to keep players moving forward to find out the next chunk of the equation.
Even for such a well put together - and greatly appreciated - horror title, there is still room for some improvement. The puzzles in Dementium are not overly difficult, yet it's exciting when you locate one simply due to their infrequency. Foul creatures, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen, but they begin to lack variety after a point. There are zombie-like creatures, slithering maggot things, flying insects, screeching heads, and a few other nasties to deal with. The boss battles are quite thrilling, but a few are recycled at various points. It's disappointing since beating them once was enough in some cases. The biggest frustration comes not from the gameplay itself, but from a basic element most players take for granted. The save system is somewhat flawed - or simply designed to provide a greater challenge, depending on your perspective - since being killed will force you to restart the current chapter over from the beginning. In some cases, this means having to replay huge sections of the maps you just slaved through. You can circumvent this issue by turning the DS off right before you think you're about to die, but this method is simply a pain in the ass. None of these problems really hurt the gameplay much.
On the whole, Dementium is a riveting title which expertly straddles the line between survival horror and first-person shooter - two genres vastly underrepresented on the DS. If you're up for a good scare, a lot of blood, and worthy horror experience, then look no further. Renegade Kid not only did their homework, they passed the exam with flying colors.
CCC Freelance Writer