Interesting storyline development.
Pretty damn scary.
Bad grammar (seriously, guys).
Decay: The Mare Review
I’ve been swamped by adventure games of all kinds these last few days. It’s not a bad thing either, to ditch the shooters and RPGs for a little while, and play games whose sole focus is to tell you a story. Gameplay takes a backseat in adventures to develop characters, settings, and storylines instead. In Decay: The Mare – characters are few and far between, but it does come with a very well-built setting around which the story revolves.
The protagonist, Sam, wakes up in a psychiatric clinic. He isn’t there because his mind is failing, but rather to try and shake off his crippling drug addiction. He’s trying to come clean and start a new life, and he thought he’d be able to do so if he admitted himself to the institution. He took his medicine, laid down and closed his eyes. The first day was over, and Sam felt a glimmer of hope. So he wakes up from a good nights sleep intent on making this work. But something’s strange… off somehow. He hears a faint scream coming from the outside. Determined to see what’s going on, he moves into the hallway only to see that the entire building is now a decrepit ruin, with strange sounds and things going bump in the dark all around him. This, dear readers, is the setting of Decay: The Mare. And if it sounds eerily similar to the way Silent Hill stories usually begin, rest assured that you’re not the only one that thinks so.
Decay: The Mare is a re-release of sorts of a mobile adventure game going by the same name. However, whereas the mobile release was an episodic affair, The Mare has all three episodes already packed and ready in one game. It’s really not what one would expect from a mobile adventure game. The Mare plays virtually the same as most similar games do. You’re exploring the world in “first-person”, with static backgrounds changing as you progress through the storyline. Shining Gate Software managed to accomplish better interaction with the world by implementing in-engine first-person cut scenes, thus making the game feel much less like a slide show. Also important is that many ‘screens’ aren’t static at all, with lights flickering, or something similar happening, so that the games visual department doesn’t bore you to death, what with all the re-treading that goes around in The Mare. I don’t usually speak about the game’s low points first, but will do so this time to get it out of the way. As far as visuals go, The Mare IS an interesting game, with detailed backgrounds and lots of thingymajigs strewn about the layouts. There’s always something to feast your eyes on is what I’m saying, but this is hindered by the fact that the screens are rendered at a cripplingly low resolution. I’m not sure why this is the case, but I suspect it’s got much to do with the games roots as a mobile release. The soundtrack is pretty good though, and sets the mood easily.
The other thing that irks me is the written language. I’m a bit of a grammar nazi and thus any and all grammar mistakes in software bug me to no end. Here you’ll see instances of overly long sentences, strange syntax and similar mind-boggling issues.
If you can ignore the low-res blubbery and bad grammar, you’re in for quite an experience. The Mare handles themes and images that are usually reserved for the likes of Silent Hill, which becomes painfully obvious once you meet the talking purse (don’t even ask). It’s a world that grows more disturbing and horrifying as you go, and similarly to the aforementioned series, isn’t afraid to show you scenes that most similar titles would shy away from depicting. Expect lots of teeth-gritting imagery, and don’t think that the game won’t make you jump at the shadows – it will. Especially if you’ve got an imagination as vivid as mine is.
Had this game not been a mobile port I’d probably be crashing its score deeper into the ground due to the simple fact that It’s 2015 and if you’re going to do a horror first-person game point ‘n’ click adventure with static backgrounds you could at the very least include a wider field of vision. Granted, this IS a mobile port and comes fairly cheap so I can’t say I really mind it. Besides, the scenes depicted here provide a nice dose of claustrophobia that work in tandem with the games already creepy atmosphere. I have to admit that the game sure has it where it counts – and that is in the department of dread and slowly creeping horror. If you’re looking for that, you can’t go wrong with this game.
To conclude, Decay: The Mare is a short but sweet horror adventure with fairly logical and straightforward puzzles. Its setting is horrifying and “characters” obscure, which set the tone of the game perfectly. The creeping dread it transpires is vastly different from what horror games usually try to convey, and we should embrace the fact that Silent Hill isn’t the only game doing this stuff. However, The Mare’s staggeringly low-res backgrounds might very well make your eyes bleed. Which is actually kind of appropriate, in a disgustingly terrifying way.
Decay: The Mare Review
Shining Gate Software
13th Feburary 2015