Renegade Kid released Dementium: The Ward for the Nintendo DS in 2007. Having a survival horror / first-person shooter on Nintendo DS was pretty awesome, and reviewers praised the horror elements and the use of the relatively limited DS technology to make a solid game. It was followed by Dementium II in 2010, which was also well received. After some legal problems, Renegade Kid recently regained the rights to the game, and set out to make a remastered version of The Ward for Nintendo 3DS: Dementium Remastered. The creepy hospital has been rebuilt in 3D, and it looks creepier than ever. Whether you’ve played Dementium: The Ward or not, you’ll enjoy this title if you’re looking for a short, fun horror game. If you’re looking for something with a deep story and unique gameplay elements, though, Dementium Remastered might leave you unsatisfied.
There isn’t a whole lot of story in Dementium. You play as William Redmoor, who is in an abandoned mental hospital for some reason – that’s pretty much all you need to know about the story of Dementium. You learn more about William as the game goes out, but even these revelations are disappointing. The game isn’t really about the story – it’s about the environment, and it’s about the creepy events that occur in that environment. So, like I said before, if you’re looking for a deep story, Dementium really isn’t for you. The best of Dementium is in the gameplay and the environment.
Dementium is a first-person shooter, and it works best on New Nintendo 3DS / 3DS XL or on a Nintendo 3DS with a Circle Pad Pro. If you don’t have an extra control stick, you can either use the touch screen or the face buttons to control the camera. The touch screen is much better than using the face buttons, as it’s much easier to react quickly – and that’s something you’re going to have to do quite often.
Throughout the game’s sixteen chapters, you’ll find yourself anxiously creeping through the abandoned mental institution, solving puzzles (like finding keycodes) and desperately searching for items and ammunition to help you survive. Ammo is limited in this game, and that’s something that you should be aware of. Even on the easiest of difficulties, some of the tougher enemies take quite a few blows to take down, and this can really put a strain on your ammo supply.
This is especially relevant when it comes to boss fights. The bosses in Dementium are hard (and they’re smart), and it doesn’t help that they’re really good at moving into the darkness and out of range, leading to brutal attacks that you won’t see coming. The first major boss (in Chapter 4) was insanely difficult for me, and it just gets harder as the game goes on. You’ll find yourself fighting bosses more than a few times. Some people will have fun trying to pinpoint weak spots and reveling in the glory when you finally kill the boss. Other people will just get really mad.
The bosses aren’t the only nuisances, though. My personal nemesis is the flying head. I don’t think I’ve ever wasted more pistol ammo on anything (in any game) than these flying heads. After a while, you get used to dealing with them, but your first encounter with them will definitely frustrate you. There are also creatures that crawl out of, into, and all over the walls of rooms and hallways, and these small monsters can be incredibly brutal. The game excels at throwing obstacles at you that challenge your survival skills. If you freak out and shoot wildly, you’ll be out of ammo before you’re even close to the next boss or chapter. You’ll learn that you have to conserve ammo and be as accurate as you can to survive Dementium, and that’s what makes the gameplay great. If you’re a fan of horror games, you’ll feel right at home wandering through the hospital and being frightened, killed, and made stronger by the monsters that it holds.
There are three difficulty levels, and you’re encouraged to play through them all. On a console with a lot of horror-based first-person shooter games, the replay value would be relatively low. However, on Nintendo 3DS, it’s nice to have such a title on your system. Horror fans will find themselves drawn back by that survival horror itch, and you could do a lot worse than Dementium when looking for a way to scratch it.
The hospital looks awesome, especially in 3D. The cutscenes are in 2D, which feels like a missed opportunity, but it’s not frustrating enough to quit the game over. Turn all the lights off, put some headphones on, and slowly make your way through the environment. Take your time to look around – there’s a lot of really cool, creepy stuff that you can find if you take the time to appreciate what’s around you. This isn’t always possible (given the nature of the game), but there’s good news! Unlike The Ward, Dementium Remastered gets rid of the quick enemy respawning that made our lives a living hell. This way, you can make your way through areas you’ve already seen without fear of being attacked by monsters that you’ve already killed. This isn’t only helpful for taking in the view, but it’s also great for finding items and ammo that you may have missed.
The enemies aren’t incredibly realized, but their appearances are grotesque enough to inspire fear in average gamers. Survival horror veterans may be unimpressed by the appearance of bosses and enemies, but the AI and the way that enemies appear are sure to give most players at least a handful of frights.
The score in the game fits the aesthetic perfectly. Though the quality isn’t perfect, it does exactly what it needs to do. It’s not a score that will blow you away and force you to find it online and put it on your MP3 player, but it’s definitely a reason to play the game with headphones on. When it comes to horror games, it’s all about creating the right atmosphere, and the music of Dementium does this well.
Dementium Remastered is not the best horror game on Nintendo 3DS. It’s not going to win any game-of-the-year awards or be highly praised. That’s not what this game is about, though. Dementium Remastered aims to bring a classic handheld survival horror game back to life with the power of Nintendo 3DS – and Renegade Kid succeeds in their goal. Smooth gameplay, crushing difficulty, and a delightfully creepy atmosphere make Dementium Remastered a must-play for any survival horror fanatic with a Nintendo 3DS.
Review copy provided by Renegade Kid