Decay: The Mare

 

 

 

Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Shining Gate Software

Publisher:    Daedalic Entertainment

Released:  February 2015

PC Requirements:  

OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7

Additional Screenshots

 

 

 

 

 

by flotsam

 

Decay: The Mare: Episode 1

ďA new psychological horror adventure game from the creators of the successful Decay series. Sam has ended up in an institution named "Reaching Dreams" to get rid of his drug addiction and his miserable life. But during the first night, something happens and he gets stuck in a nightmare that never seems to end ...Ē

So says the website.

I am not familiar with the original, so canít say whether it warranted a sequel. However on the strength of Episode 1, it didnít warrant this.

Quite simply, its dull. Not scary, not psychological, not horrific, not a nightmare by any stretch of the imagination.

Not even much fun.

There are very few puzzles, and you are primarily occupied with navigating a series of doors and rooms in the institution to get, well, to the end of the episode. A sequence in the middle is a maze by any other name, always in my view a lazy option for puzzling. Certainly there is a clue which renders it impotent, but itís still a maze.

Drab graphics probably suit the asylum setting, but donít give life to the events. They didnít convey a demented or tormented environment, or a place that you really didnít want to be.

There is no dialogue to speak of, primarily because there is nobody to talk to. And the talking bag (enough said the better) doesnít count.

There are limited items to interact with in each screen, so play time is not extensive. You find and can combine a small number of items to assist your progress. If you want to, you can find a limited number of coins (why isnít clear apart from being a treasure hunt).

Short loads which feature a number of still photographic images punctuate almost every entry through a door, and almost all screens are static, with little motion or movement present. To be fair,  it is an apparently lifeless institution, and inanimate objects are just that, but it adds to the ďnothing happeningĒ  feel, and limited cutscenes donít compensate.

I will play the other episodes, but it will need to pick up markedly to warrant your attention.

Decay: The Mare: Episode 2

This episode was much better. Better puzzles, better atmosphere, better everything really. I even got a fright or two.

It suggests to me this is really one game broken into bits, rather than being an episodic game which can stand on its own piece by piece. Not a lot do, and all of them are better when consumed as a whole, but if you are going to have episodes they have to be satisfying in themselves, or at least be intriguing enough to make you want to see what comes next.

It remains a solitary environment, apart from the odd headless body and apparition. The talking bag I still donít count.

Itís a spartan environment, still confined to a dilapidated building.  There are a small number of items to find, including coins about which I am still no clearer on their purpose.

There are locked doors and boxes to get through and into, and some of the puzzles are rather good. A camera added a little something. If you get stuck, the hint system will help. Generally it will get you to a location and tell you ďto explore this room moreĒ.

Am much more enthusiastic about episode 3.

Decay: The Mare: Episode 3

So here we are at the end.

This episode was much more in keeping with episode 2, and as such, and given what I said about playing as a whole, I will likely go back and play it right through, to see how that effects what I thought of episode 1.

We start where we left off, but with an empty inventory. We are still inside the building, but you may be out by the end. That will depend on a choice you make, triggering either the so called ďbadĒ ending or the ďgoodĒ one. You may also be aware of what in fact went on, and what you are doing here.

Once again itís about getting through the building and solving a few puzzles along the way. They werenít as good this time, but still not too shabby. One seemed only doable by trial and error, and another wasnít really a puzzle if you spotted the answer. The hint system continued to provide sufficient guidance if required.

I found four balls this time (and used them), and it was four nails last time. I also found coins, not all of them, but I did find out what they were for. If you find them all, you can unlock extras for the episode from the menu screen. Some googling revealed this was concept art in episode 1. I didnít google further so canít tell you what it is for the others.

Achievements popped up as they do in many Steam games now (not sure what it adds really) and I failed to unlock two of them. Clearly you donít need to accomplish them all to finish.

There were some conversations in this episode, all via subtitle, including with some real people. The talking bag made another appearance also.

In the end it was a lot better than I thought it would be, but overall it was still a middling  experience. The interface was too fussy; one example being that clicking on an item you could pick up resulted in a question asking did you want to pick it up or not, and as far as I can remember I picked it all up and used the lot so it seems a bit pointless. There were also other circumstances in which  you had to engage in extra clicks for no reason other than the game required it. The graphics were similarly middle of the road.

When I play it through as a whole, I will let you know if it made a different impression.

Grade: C (full game)

I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz

RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz

Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB

 

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