Death Mark (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 10.01.2019

Review for Death Mark on Nintendo Switch

The current climate of videogames has made it so that even the most niche of genre can find success. The visual novel is something that 15 or 20 years ago would never get localized in the west, yet here we are enjoying hits like the Zero Escape games, Root Letter and an entire franchise of Danganronpa. It is safe to say that today, consuming fiction from a videogame rivals film, television, and even books. With every passing year, gamers are more accepting of visual novels, and with that, more unconventional stories. Naturally, Japanese horror visual novels would find their way westward, and with Death Mark the Switch can run a very atmospheric, text-based adventure game.

There is something about Japanese urban legends that have an extra creepy vibe to them. Perhaps it has something to do with the typically emotional undertones that drive the stories in the legends, making them feel more relatable with some elements of body horror. Death Mark is such a title, and wears these elements on itself so confidently in the form of a visual novel. It all begins with a brand that looks like a bite-mark. The protagonist has such a 'death mark' and whoever bears this mark will gradually lose all their memories and eventually die in some vague and mysterious way. Along with a few other death mark bearers, the protagonist is guided by Mary the creepy doll who leads them to solving mysteries. Kind of like a very Japanese Scooby-Doo's Mystery Inc. but with very real threatening spirits that must be laid to rest.

Death Mark will have players do more than just reading. A bulk of the game involves navigating maze-like forests, shrines and even an abandoned elementary school full of secret passages and hidden doors. Expect most of the game expressed via static/still-images for everything, and clicking on them. It is a very old-style approach for graphics in a game like this, especially since there are many examples of contemporaries that utilize 3D graphics and more sophisticated animation. The art itself is not bad, just lifeless and lacking in personality for the most part, with only very rare instances of inspiration saved for the gruesome scenes. When not exploring the skid-row of Tokyo's derelicts, the protagonist and player-selected partners will have to make some life or death decisions to mix things up. These choices test the user's knowledge of the current mystery at hand and response speed is a factor since time basically is HP. Luckily, finding amulets hidden in rooms will restore life force which adds a survival horror flourish to the experience.

Screenshot for Death Mark on Nintendo Switch

The real star of Death Mark is how it sets the mood and creepy atmosphere with minimalistic sound design and imagery. There is a lot getting done with very little and playing this late at night with only the glow of the screen emanating and the sound of a dank and haunted school creeping its way into the real world is something that only could be done in something like Death Mark. Most traditional survival horror games tend to immerse players with in-game mechanics and have a very literal means of playing the actions out on screen. With this gameplay being so minimalistic and requiring so much reading, Death Mark absolutely commands users' imaginations, immersing them in the horror.

Death Mark is not going to be for everyone. This is a very gruesome and often times depressing story with gameplay that plays out more like a choose-your-own-adventure style book if it was aimed at adults. After extensive reading portions early on in chapters, there won't be much hand holding since this is a detective game. Getting set loose in open ended environments may not be the most satisfying because everything is whittled down to a pixel hunt at the end of the day. However, it is a pixel hunt worth having if only to experience the chilling writing and atmosphere.

Screenshot for Death Mark on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Death Mark is a solid horror text adventure game. With all the hallmarks one would hope for in a survival horror, compounded with excellent writing that sparks the reader's imagination, anyone who is interested in a low-stress horror game that is actually very creepy will enjoy this. The presentation may be unimpressive and the art just adequate, yet the sound design makes up for it. If this went the extra mile with the visuals and animation it could have been a real cult classic.

Developer

Experience

Publisher

Aksys

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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