Although my initial impressions of Dementium: The Ward were quite positive, the developers made some choices in the design of their game that is bringing the experience WAY down for me. Honestly, despite these lame choices (that seem to be culled from a textbook of mid-80’s to early-90’s game design), this would indeed be a superb DS title. What the 3-man development team at Renegade Kid managed to do with this game is impressive, and they certainly deserve any accolades they get for their technical achievement. (They also deserve a hearty clap for having the cojones to attempt such a game on the DS; especially at a time when other studios typically choose projects with much more lighter fare.) Still, though, a couple of Dementium’s elements are just ruining the experience for me, and it’s beginning to look doubtful that I’m going to invest any further time into playing it.
Yesterday, I bitched about the flashlight that seems to require two hands to operate (ala Doom 3) as being a constant source of irritation, and no, it doesn’t get any better the deeper you get into the game. But as irritating as that may be, the highly confusing save system is even worse.
See, every time you pass through a door, a message appears at the bottom of the screen indicating that the game is being saved. However, I have absolutely no idea as to what’s being saved, because when you slip up and die, your only option is to restart from the beginning of the chapter you were on, or quit. There’s nothing like spending half an hour traipsing through a generic ‘survival-horror hospital’, only to get your ass handed to you and having to do it all…over…again. Oh yeah, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the game features that olde-tyme design standard of respawning enemies after you exit a cleared area. Just like with The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and its stupid ‘Temple of the Ocean King’, this is surely nothing but a cheap tactic to extend the gameplay without having to actually pour any extra work into the game. It’s all quite laughable, and since this is such an old-school way of doing things, I’m quite surprised that the game doesn’t require the player to rescue a princess or the like. (Well, either that or make use of a save system that requires the player to enter a 25-digit alphanumeric code in order to continue after turning the game off.)
So all things considered, I think I’m gonna have to rescind yesterday’s remark which indicated, “it would probably be a purchase that you’d be pleased with”. Ultimately, that may be a true enough statement for most people with an interest in this game, but I’d feel completely remiss if I didn’t advise extreme caution now. The honeymoon’s over, and the bride isn’t looking as lovely anymore.