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DECAY - The MARE    This is a point and act horror adventure on Steam from Daedalic Entertainment. 

For the most part it is doable if you follow logic, read the situation, understand the clues and basically do as you are directed, even if some of those directions may appear to be confusing at first.

    

You play an addict named Sam who is institutionalised in the most run down asylum ever seen since H.P.Lovecraft first put pen to paper. You wake up in an awful bed in an even more awful cell. On the table is a dirty plate with some pills and a note telling you to take them. This is an instruction not an option. If you don't take the pills the game doesn't start - tried it, waited, gave up, took pills. Then you enter into a sort of hypnotic, psychotic, nightmarish dream world, or are you now fully awake and aware ? The door is open and you can leave your cell room. Outside the corridors and walls are filthy, the floor is strewn with rubbish, windows are boarded and all manner of equipment sits gathering dust. There are pictures on the walls, boxes stacked or lying fre but none of them can be touched or searched.None of this is of any use to you except to let you know - if you hadn't realised already - that this isn't Kansas, Dorothy.

Moving the cursor round the screen may show some hot points, the cursor point changing when something can be viewed, activated or collected. Items collected go into your inventory where it is possible, necessary at times, to manipulate objects together to form a useful item - lump of wood with hunk of metal = hammer for example. Some of the doors are open, some are unlocked and some are locked, despite the state of repair you can never break through locked doors. This is one of the things that frustrates me with these type of adventure games. To break through a wall of bricks I make a hammer (as explained previously) I hit the bricks and the wall crumbles to leave an opening for me to enter and the hammer disappears from my inventory. I am not the brightest of brains, I readily admit that, but if I was in Sam's position and I had a hammer I'm damned if I would throw it away after one use, especially when I already knew there to be old wooden doors behind me that are locked and in need of a good kicking. I know it's a game and as I said it is mostly logical, but having a one-use hammer isn't logical. If I was told that the hammer shaft broke on impact with the wall I could accept that and move on, but having it simply disappear ? Bah !

    

The game contionues in the same manner. You find new places and new puzzles and then you have to decipher the clues to solve the puzzles. If you are a horror fan who enjoys solving problems this is for you. You can control absolutely all actions by the mouse. Movement is unusual for a game published recently as there are no swing round 360 degree camera shots. You click on a point ahead of you and will probably move forward (not always), click on a door and it either opens or you get a message but to move from screen to screen, which is quite fluent and without long blank-screen periods, you click on the arrow at the edge of the screen. If there is no arrow then there is nowhere you can go in that direction.

Thankfully (for me at least) there are several websites online that will either show you, via a youtube video, how each section goes, or outlines in text a walktrhough of each chapter. I say "thankfully" because the Hint option that comes with the game is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Click on the "?" in the bottom right corner for a Hint ? yeah right ! The most you'll get in the way of help from "?" is a message saying something like "there is more to do in this room". Nothing highlights or sparkles onscreen, no "look under the table" or "read the graffiti on the wall" type of clue, just a simple "keep looking" type message.

If you go wrong in the directions given by a clue you are holding, and at other times, there are some disturbing, violent polaroid pictures that flash on and off. These are so quick that it is hard to discern them fully but you can see blood, body parts (whether they are still attached to the body is hard to tell) and all manner of horrific visions.

DECAY the MARE is a very atmospheric game with some flashing images and disturbing scenes. It is not for young players or anyone who is squeamish or suffers from any light sensitivity or of a nervous disposition. Otherwise it's a more than fair horror story, well told through your eyes (via Sam of course) and well held together with just a few hiccups (as previously noted).

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015