Dementium: The Ward (Nintendo DS) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 25.04.2009 6

Review for Dementium: The Ward on Nintendo DS

Back in 2007 a new, but experienced, studio Renegade Kid jumped onboard the DS scene with a new horror IP, Dementium: The Ward. Horror games have generally worked well on Nintendo's portable, but does introducing first person shooting and puzzle elements improve the experience?

Dementium is a pretty little game full of flowers, pixies and happy things. Well, not really. It's quite the opposite, but what our protagonist might hope for when he awakens in a grim, dimly lit room with little to no memory of whom he is, and how on earth he arrived in this disturbed hospital. You're put into first person, and must find a way to escape this place, finding answers along the way. The lights are barely on, there are moans and screams between the corridors and it's up to you to find and use anything that's at your disposal.

What makes this game different to other DS horror outings is the blending of genres - it's not a 3rd person survival-horror, but it has the inventory/item approach and it's not quite a 1st person shooter, but does well in melding a shooting game with chapter-based horror. The aim here is to progress through different chapters, 16 of them, by wandering the hallways in search for clues, solving puzzles and blasting through zombie-esque creatures with a shotgun or two.

Screenshot for Dementium: The Ward on Nintendo DS

Initially you'll be armed with a police baton left behind by some poor guard who was probably having a cuppa, and next on the list a map and flashlight. You can see the horror elements already falling into place. Use the flickering light source to bring a little bit of security to what's round the corner, then flip to a weapon and pump lead with the tap of a shoulder button or two. The problem with this is the lack of being able to use your light in gun at the same time, it some ways it can certainly heighten the tension, but later in the game it can be found fairly frustrating to have to continually switch.

And these creatures are rancid, disgusting beasts drawn up scarily well on the DS's tiny screens. You have the typical zombies lingering about, eerie hearts exposed for that shuddering feeling, blood-drenching leeches and big knife-wielding thins that can only be really described as an obese man looking for revenge, and you're McDonalds. Later on you'll encounter screaming heads and spine-tingling beetles that really encourage whipping out a weapon as quickly as possible.

Screenshot for Dementium: The Ward on Nintendo DS

Although a huge chunk of the game is spent eradicating these gruesome creatures, there are also a fair share of puzzles to break up the action, create a little suspense and get you exploring the place a bit. For example remembering some numbers painted on a wall with a nice lick of blood, or collecting pieces of a photo to discover an essential answer. It's not mind numbingly difficult, nor irritating, doing well to pace out the short tale with some variety.

DS control schemes can be a bit hit and miss, especially mapping a game that's primarily analogue-stick driven to a touch screen, d-pad (or buttons for lefties) and shoulder button. Fortunately moving around and dispatching these horrid creatures is as fluid and enjoyable as you might expect in a first person shooter. It feels just as slick as Nintendo's Metroid Prime Hunters, or Call of Duty for example, and thank goodness it's nothing like the abysmal Goldeneye DS. The touch screen's as sensitive as it needs to be, though does lack an option to vary it is still very responsive. You're able to quickly rotate to shake off those pesky worms, and accurately take down a zombie or two without a hitch. It makes combat and movement as fluid as those bigger-brother home console shooters, and does overcome a chunk of problems with camera angles and movement you'd expect if it were in 3rd person.

Screenshot for Dementium: The Ward on Nintendo DS

Visually the game wreaks of quality design, and whilst it may not quite win an award for best visuals on the platform, Dementium is a strong contender. Boasting impressive enemy design, gory, sometimes sickening textures and darker visuals there's certain a treat on offer here for horror fans. There's some slick texture work throughout the different locations, perhaps a little too similar, highly detailed and certainly compliment the mood Renegade Kid seem to be going for. Lighting work on the other hand is a little less so impressive, but does well in varying the different rooms and creating that feeling of anxiety where needed.

Fortunately for this slightly late European release a lot of the previous flaws have been fixed to make progression less of a chore. For example monsters continuing to respawn when entering the same area again and having to start again from the beginning of a chapter, and these have been fixed up to avoid having to redo huge chunks of the game. And redo you may have to. Dementium is a fairly short game in terms of content, but towards the end racks up the difficulty with some insane and somewhat freaky bosses to push through.

Screenshot for Dementium: The Ward on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Dementium: The Ward is a good start to what will hopefully spawn a sequel or two - a solid shooter, presented fantastically well on Nintendo's DS. Does have a handful of issues including it's fairly short nature, but all in all a great first effort from Renegade Kid.

Developer

Renegade Kid

Publisher

Gamecock

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

Comments

It's a great game that I hope really gets fleshed out more in a future sequel. Glad to hear the flaws were ironed out for this EU release.

Totally agree with the score there Jorge Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Great little game, totally agree as well. Good stuff J!

Sounds very good indeed, I will consider definitely consider a purchase.

Cheers guys, had heard good things bout this game and gave it a shot - works really well. The lack of 3D person definitely makes it so much more fluid and easier to move about.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Great surprise...

I find your lack of faith disturbing!

I've been wanting to get this one for a long time, but never have. Might be a summer pickup for me. Nice review Jb!

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