Thursday, 15 October 2015

Decay: The Mare

The point and click adventure is a long dead genre as far as I'm concerned, I've not seen a good one in a long long time and while Decay: The Mare isn't quite the genre coming back to life, it's sort of a step in the right direction.

The game follows the adventures of Sam, a young man who has ended up in a rehab clinic called Reaching Dreams.  He starts to have these weird dreams and this is where all the horror begins.  The dreams are full of weird imagery, run down environments and a strange creature that appears to want him dead and it's up to you as the player to help him get out.

Game play is standard, old school style point and click fare.  You are given a still of the room you are looking at and sweeping your mouse across it will uncover various elements that can be inspected or interacted with.  You have to solve puzzles and find clues in order to make your way through each episode and uncover the mystery of Reaching Dreams and just why it's so fucked up.

I enjoyed Decay: The Mare, it was kind of atmospheric and had a surprisingly amount of quality for game that was, as far as I understand, initially released on the Xbox Live Indie Game service.  If you've seen anything from that fucking cesspool you know most of the stuff on there is garbage but Decay manages to be actually OK.  The game has 3 episodes which are all nice bite sized lengths so you can fire it up on a lazy weekend, play for an hour or so and then put it away when you beat the episode.  This of course means that the game is kind of short but considering it's cheap price point of £8 you are easily getting £8 worth of content here.

There are however 2 big fat glaring problems with the game.  The first is that's its too fucking easy and for a game like this that's a big problem.  Back in the day a point and click adventure could take days or even fucking weeks to finish because of some weird puzzle that you couldn't wrap your head around but Decay doesn't quite have that.  The puzzles seem cryptic at first and it's clear that an effort was made to make them challenging but they all fall a bit flat.  My wife played the game as well and she commented on how the hardest aspect of this game was navigation of the confusing environments.  I didn't think that personally but it's something to consider.  The game also comes with a hint button so if you really can't be fucked then just slam that and find out what to do next.  But then again, if you're playing a game like this why bother if you're just going to resort to the hint button every time you get stuck?

Secondly the game isn't scary at all.  It presents itself as a horror game and the opening cinematic gave me a weird Silent Hill vibe but the horror is just kind of bad and the game relies too often on jump scares.  The most egregious example I can think of is a puzzle that involves looking at a code for a box with a telescope.  The game purposely gives you the wrong code so that you second guess yourself and when you go to look the second time the big scary monster is eyeing up the camera and a big CRASH plays to tell you to be scared now.  The creepiest thing in the game was a talking, disembodied but heavy breathing handbag but all that did was remind me of the talking head in Killer7 and now I just want to play that again.

All in all, Decay isn't a bad game by any stretch it's just rough round the edges.  If you have some time to kill and you're a fan of point and click adventure games then you could do a hell of a lot worse than this.  Despite the problems I mentioned above me and my wife played it through and came away feeling like we had a good time so I'd absolutely recommend giving it a go.

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