Dementium: The Ward (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 24.04.2024

Review for Dementium: The Ward on Nintendo Switch

Dementium: The Ward was one of the first survival horror titles on the DS, gaining a cult following and spawned an even better sequel in Dementium II. What was originally pitched to Konami as Silent Hill for DS, but turned down, became an animal all its own, as Renegade Kid set out to make what is still one of the more impressive first-person games on the DS hardware. In 2015, Dementium Remastered came out on the 3DS eshop and it impressed with its fluid and smooth frame rate and tastefully redone visuals. Sadly, nobody can get it anymore since the closure of the eshop on March 27, 2023. It seemed like this was going to be a lost game... that is until it got ported to Nintendo Switch. How does this new iteration of Atooi's horror fps fare on new hardware? What has been added? Read this Dementium: The Ward review to find out!

When Dementium Remastered came out, it was the best example of how to do a first-person game on the 3DS. The "New" 3DS model's built-in second analogue nub made it playable with standard twin-stick first-person shooter-style controls. It was very convenient to have so many useful control options, but nothing quite beats the standard touch screen and stylus scheme. On Nintendo Switch, Dementium: The Ward feels right at home with the traditional twin-stick FPS set up. This game was designed around simple pick-up-and-play philosophy that defined the Nintendo DS and it still shines through in this port.

Story and content-wise, Dementium: The Wardis almost identical to the original DS release and the 3DS remaster. The developers chose to make this port a very straightforward one that stays utterly true to the original for better and worse. Thankfully, the original game was already a solid one, but some things, like the way enemies instantly vanish when they die, or that the puzzle solutions are the same as before, seem like Atooi could have put in a bit more effort. Controls feel very responsive and twitchy and load times are mercifully short to non-existent.

Screenshot for Dementium: The Ward on Nintendo Switch

There is a disturbing scarcity of features. The lack of button remapping is disappointing and most perplexing of all is the absence of gyroscopic aiming. Worse yet is there was no effort in improving the weapon swapping. Dementium: The Ward does not have a graceful system to change weapons; the protagonist has to cycle between them in a set order or can quickly switch between a weapon and flashlight. There should have been an option to always have the flashlight out and there needed to be a weapon wheel tied to one of the shoulder or the X buttons.

The notepad feature has understandably been cut. This aspect was such a natural inclusion for a survival horror game, since it allows the developers to come up with more creative or challenging puzzles, and a notepad that can be easily accessed can immerse users into the setting. Dementium: The Ward expects players will be taking screenshots of clues, which is logical to assume because it does work, but it also is disappointing that there was no new content added apart from an unappealing screen filter.

Screenshot for Dementium: The Ward on Nintendo Switch

Graphically and sonically, Dementium: The Ward is identical to its 3DS iteration. This isn't a strike against the game, since the visuals have a lot of charm, but it is disappointing that there isn't anything new to look forward to. It Is exactly the same as it was on 3DS; no new areas, no surprises, no new weapons, no new enemies, no rebalance... for better and for worse, it is the same experience. The gameplay can sometimes feel like a gauntlet of mazes, puzzles, and monsters. On the 3DS, Dementium: The Ward had novelty because there was nothing else like it. On Nintendo Switch, this game is a lot less unique and has less to offer than its contemporaries like Dusk, Quake II, or Amnesia Collection.

Dementium: The Ward's atmosphere truly shines in the sound and music department, and the origins as a Silent Hill title become most apparent here; there is even a very distinctive radio static sound that definitely wouldn't be out of place if heard in Brookhaven Hospital. What was a sanitarium has now become an abattoir swathed in gore, where the halls are infested with large carnivorous maggots, screaming witch heads and fat demons with cleavers; this is where Dementium: The Ward abandons Silent Hill and adopts aspects from Quake.

The environment is pretty much just the hospital, and it can be a bit tiring to always be staring down long hallways and constantly switching out between flashlight and weapons. There are a few standout locations, but, generally, the game is always pretty dark and will be throwing enemies at any given situation. Thankfully, the puzzles and threatening bosses peppered throughout help keep Dementium: The Ward varied and interesting.

Screenshot for Dementium: The Ward on Nintendo Switch

It was surprising to see such alarmingly graphic imagery on a 3DS, since there truly was nothing else quite like this it on the platform. This is no longer the case since Nintendo Switch has a wider range of Mature-rated titles like Outlast or the Blasphemous games. The scenario seems like the devs were just winging it, with no real attention given to things like story or plot.

The premise of Dementium: The Ward (like always) couldn't be simpler: protagonist wakes up wearing only a hospital gown and must find a way out of the labyrinthine infirmary. From the intro, the title does not hold any hands, and puts all responsibility on the user to figure out puzzles, find keys, and unlock weapons, with little interruption or even much story at all. The plot does not have much presence during the game's short run time of about four to five hours, and only truly picks up at the final minutes. Until then, players are on their own trying to fight or flee their way out of Redmoor.

Screenshot for Dementium: The Ward on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Dementium: The Ward runs pretty short and has very little replay value. The puzzle solutions and bosses are identical to the prior versions, and the overall campaign takes place in only one location. Its value is a tad overstated, this is a recommended classic that does come highly polished and has some legit creepiness to it, thanks to the gritty and foreboding atmosphere. The controls feel very tight and it's incredibly responsive, though it could use more features like gyro or a weapon wheel. A survival mode or a randomiser would also add value and more of a reason to return to Redmoor. These are the kinds of additions Dementium: The Ward needed, not a 'retro' filter.

Developer

Atooi

Publisher

Atooi

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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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