arkthemaniac's Dementium: The Ward (Nintendo DS) review

Dementium is shockingly scary for a DS game, but has its issues.

    Horror games don't work well on hand-held gaming systems. This is a fact that people have accepted since the dawn of time. A scary game has to be atmospheric and engrossing to be scary, which is something that a hand-held can't dish out. Hand-held systems are for Pokemon and Tetris...right? Wrong. Dementium: The Ward successfully shatters the myth of horror games being exclusive to consoles, gives a great control setup as well as a buggy save system to make a game anyone looking for a good fright should check out.
    The story in Dementium is vague. The game opens with your character being rushed into a dilapidated hospital as a young, ghastly-looking girl watches. After this, you are given free range to continue with the game, starting with only a flashlight and a notepad, used for taking notes on puzzles. As you progress, you find a 9mm pistol, a shotgun, a machine gun, and an electric buzz saw, as well as others. Your goal is simple: get the hell out. Oh yeah, and find out what the hell is going on with that little girl, if you must.
    The control setup is good and easy to work with. The top screen shows you the action, while the bottom screen is where you see your life, change weapons, access your notepad and map, as well as adjust the control. To move, you use the D-pad. If you're a lefty, you can use the button pad instead. The right trigger uses your weapon. To aim and look, you move the stylus around the bottom screen, which keeps your hand out of the action up top. Everything works well, and when you fully nail the control, you can switch weapons seamlessly. That is unless, of course, you aren't panicking.
    As far as scariness goes, Dementium exceeds in miles. While you may be able to see some enemies coming, some can surprise you, but almost all of them will give you a scare, particularly the flying heads. Yeah, there's flying heads. The graphics add to this, running at a smooth frame rate, with very detailed environments. This game really wowed me as to the capacity of the DS platform. The sound is good and haunting for the most part with the exception of the buzz saw, which pierces even the toughest eardrums.
    The save system, however, is not so great. It works so that it autosaves every time you enter a new room. If you turn it off and on again, you'll pick up where you left off. If you die, however, you start back at the beginning of the chapter, which can be very frustrating, especially when the hard boss is at the end of a chapter. This takes frustrating to a new level when you fight the last boss.
    Even so, Dementium provides a great gameplay experience for shooter fans, horror fans, and most in between. If you can get over the frustrating save system, there's a great game to be had here, and any DS owner would do themselves well to give it a shot.


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