Release: May 4, 2010
Genre: First person Shooter, Survival horror
Developer: Renegade Kid
Available Platforms: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Building off of the success of the first game, Dementium II promises to deliver a scarier and longer game compared to the original. The atmosphere, audio, gameplay, and enemies in Dementium: The Ward, were fantastic and very reminiscent of Silent Hill. It provided a great and memorable horror experience on the DS pushing the boundaries of the device. However, there were quite a few flaws that made sections frustrating. Basically, the game introduced us to the character and the treatment center and we saw a demented mind but were left wanting more. Now, in Dementium II, we are welcomed back to the Bright Dawn Treatment Center to begin phase two of our treatment where even more demented things happen.
Your return to the treatment center will feel familiar at first, but you play in a completely new part of the building. Instead of a patient, you are now treated as a convict. However, very quickly you’ll escape your cell and will explore the building similar to the first game. Again, you are trying to figure out why you are here and how you can escape. Like the first, there is no mission structure, that is, you aren’t told what to do next. Along the way you will notice postcards or notes left lying around that will fill you in on the story or give you clues as to what you should do next; mostly though, the game consists of you just exploring, finding new objects/keys, completing small puzzles and opening doors to continue. For a while this bothered me, but the chilling atmosphere presented kept me moving forward, curious to see what would happen next. To give this chilling effect, at times, you will fall into another dimension or sense of insanity. This changes the environment around you, makes it darker, and requires you to either reach a certain door or defeat a certain amount of enemies before you return back to normal. Again, this part is very reminiscent of that mode in Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill: Homecoming. Progressively you will gain new weapons and encounter new enemies per section but you will also see enemies from the first game return. At the end of each of the 5 chapters, there is a new and unique boss battle. Each boss can be frustrating, but once you have the pattern down, they are quite simple and interesting. Upon completing a chapter, you will be awarded with a survival mode that allows you fight waves of enemies to see how long you can survive. There are 5 different locations that relate to the chapter you completed. After the first game, multiplayer was thought of to be implemented into a future title, but it seems Survival was put in instead. I personally think survival mode was a better option.
The first game featured some very interesting mechanics and great visuals not seen on the DS before. Things like the dynamic flashlight which lit the rooms and bent around corners like a real flashlight were handled really well on the DS. And visually, the game has improved since the first game. Both textures and lighting have been improved but still provide that chilling and gory look. You’ll still see blood on the walls and floors and make you think of the sort of things that are done to patients at this treatment center. It seemed like the first game used the in game engine for cut-scenes, but in Dementium II, the cut-scenes are much more polished.
From the beginning to the end, Dementium II provides a hair-raising and spine chilling experience all thanks to the eerie audio design. It’s hard to really describe it, but it’s just done so well. The DS hardware doesn’t really give you the best sound quality, but for this type of game, it’s perfect. The thing that adds to this is the sort of surround sound effect where you can hear the sound coming from behind you or to the side; not just stereo or from the front. There is almost never a moment where you don’t get a chill down your spine. I noticed a lot of the music and sound effects from Dementium recycled, but polished in Dementium II. Although this may seem like a cheap route, it’s actually great. While playing, I highly recommend using headphones for the best experience.
Although the audio is amazing and continues to leave your hair on your arms standing and constantly send chills down your spine, many improvements have been done since the first game. The first thing you’ll notice is the redesigned bottom screen. Instead of having to first find a map for each floor or click the map button, the map is always front and center. Not only that, but it’s much easier to navigate. It also keeps track of where you have visited. Second is the ability to hold two one handed weapons at once. Things like the flashlight and shank, or flashlight and revolver. This makes it much easier to attack enemies as most sections are very dark without a flashlight. Third is the redesigned inventory system. Now you can pick up and hold health pills and ammo. And since you can carry ammo, you can now reload your weapons. Something completely new and only helps expand on some new puzzles is the jump and crouch options. You won’t use them often, but they work well when used. In addition to the game, I really enjoyed the real life approach they took with the teaser trailer, website, and game manual. It really makes Bright Dawn feel like a place and makes it that much creepier.
With that said, I found one thing Dementium II could have used – Mission structure or inclusion of “next objective”. I understand that the type of game Dementium is relies on exploring and I like that clues are hidden on the walls, floors, or notes but with the amount of backtracking, more information as to what to do next would have been nice. I found myself finding an object and then confused for a little as to where I had to go back to; maybe give the player the option to circle locations they think are key on the map.
My overall thoughts:
When starting Dementium II you’ll notice more of a structure or action/adventure story driven approach compared to the first. It feels much more refined, greatly improved and although it is very reminiscent of silent Hill, it feels unique on the DS. The first game was very dark, atmospheric, lonely, and very chilling. You still get that in Dementium II, but now it is much more refined. It felt a lot like Silent Hill and Doom had a child and introduced a new story. As I’ve said, the game is very dark. It is best played with either the lights off or dimmed low; not good for outside play or during car/bus rides. There is a brightness setting though which does help. The way the audio is done will have you playing with chills down your spine. It’s awesome to see a DS game provide this type of experience. I completed the game in about 6 hours. The ending was sort of confusing, but the more I think about it, I understand more about what happened and how they could continue into another game. To be honest, I can’t wait to see if another game is made. It would also be interesting to see Dementium on the Nintendo Wii. I feel it would work quite well and aside from new code and engine, not much would have to change. The UI would still work well on one screen. With that said, fans of the first game will definitely enjoy Dementium II.