Dementium: The Ward
Name: Dementium: The Ward
Genre: Survival Horror
Platform: Nintendo DS
Renegade Kid had a specific vision in mind when they developed Dementium: The Ward. That vision was one of horror that can only be done on a survival horror. While the game walks on doe legs as a first person shooter it sprints like a cheetah as a horror title; which when compared to other DS titles of the same genre, is more than enough.
Dementium begins with the protagonist being dragged through the halls of The Ward, a hospital that, as the games description notes, is “frozen in time.” After waking up from whatever brought him there he begins his way through the halls. The game flexes its graphical prowess early by giving the player a flashlight to brighten the macabre halls. It is moody and dramatic in the same way that Bioshock is, and just like Bioshock’s true main character is Rapture, Dementium’s is the Ward. The walls are covered in blood and medical charts that give their diagnoses to whoever was in the hospital before.
The “strange surgery experiments gone terribly wrong (or right, depending on how you look at it)” of the game are around every bend and behind every door, just as a survival horror fan would expect. There isn’t the widest variety of enemies and every time a new one is introduced the excited feeling of “oh, a new enemy to kill” is replaced with “damn, this is a pain in the ass to kill.”
Your standard zombie-esque creatures that wander the halls of The Ward continue their wandering no matter how many times you kill them. Renegade Kid seems to have forgotten that enemy respawns are the very essence of last gen (generations apply to handhelds too). I shouldn’t have to waste precious ammunition on the same stupid foe just because I went through the wrong door.
Controlling the game is similar to Metroid Prime: Hunters for those who have played that. In fact they may even be a little tighter due to their simplicity. All movement is done with the touch screen and using the shoulder button shoots. It is a nice and easy way to address the lack of, well, analog sticks or a mouse and keyboard. Because of the DS’s features it ends up being an easy and fun way to control a shooter that gives a large amount of precision.
Sound isn’t something I usually touch on in reviews because developers rarely put too much effort into it. This is even bigger of an issue on the Nintendo DS because in the handheld world sound takes a back seat to just about everything else. This may be a bold claim, but it isn’t a stretch to say that Dementium: The Ward has the best sound of any Nintendo DS title. Wear a nice pair of headphones for this title; it will immerse you more then expected. From drips of blood to bullets hitting flesh this games audio blows the competition away.
At the end of the day, Dementium is a fantastic DS title with little replay value. While it may not have a multiplayer or incentive to play through again, it is worth playing for the single run through. Some uses of the touch screen will have you laughing and the game doesn’t pull any punches for being on a “kiddie” system like the DS.
This is a game that can go down as a classic horror game that is impressive and fascinating. If the DS can push out a fun survival horror it is only a matter of time until the rest of the walls holding the console stereotypes are broken as well.