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PC Game Review
Time to turn your life around. You are Sam, a man with a drug habit and a desire to make things different. So, you book into the Reaching Dreams clinic, only to discover that things are very wrong with the place...
Decay: The Mare is an indie game from a small publisher. The game will be sold by chapters, so The Mare only covers chapter one. The prologue informs us that Sam feels that something is hunting him and someone somewhere needs his help. A little vague, but it’s all that you are offered.
The puzzles in the game are, for the most part, logical, although sometimes the level of skill required was enough to put me off continuing. This is an obvious problem from the beginning, which see Sam (you) wandering around the mental hospital, probably. Right off you are wandering a building which is clearly in an advanced state of decay. The problem with this is that we are given no context. Did Sam really book into the world's most run down hospital to kick his drug addiction or is this something else, a hallucination or the same place at a different time?
There are some issues with the game which makes it more difficult than it needed to be. For a start the icon, which tells you something is worth investigation, appears before you actually point at any object, and then persists, fading away once you move on. This often gives the incorrect impression that there are more objects to examine, only for the icon to disappear when pointed at the second erroneous placeholder.
Stylistically the makers have gone for a generally grainy look, probably to enhance the creepiness, though this seems somewhat illogical as the game shows the surroundings from the protagonist’s perspective. Meaning what? That Sam’s eyes are creating the grainy effect? There is also the problem that the grading between colours can often leave the picture less grainy and more pixilated.
This is also the point at which you realise that the game essentially consists of a series of fairly static images for you to interact with. The game does include a number of jump scares to keep things going, but you quickly come to understand that the first chapter happens in a relatively small area, meaning that the puzzles require you to revisit the same locations more than once.
The overall decision, regarding the game, takes in many elements, for a start it should only take you an hour to an hour and a half to complete chapter one, but on the other hand it is very cheap. The style of the game will be very much a personal choice, but if you liked Silent Hill, this has not a dissimilar look. Given the price it’s probably worth a punt on chapter one to see if it’s a game for you.
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