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A Psychological Descent Into Madness

  • amerk
  • 02/28/2014 04:02 PM
  • 2093 views
IF YOU HAVE NOT YET PLAYED THE GAME, READ THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK. I'VE ADDED SPOILER TAGS IN PARTS OF THE STORY SEGMENT, BUT EVEN READING AROUND THIS COULD CAUSE YOUR HEAD TO EXPLODE IN A FRUSTRATED MASS OF GOO!

INTRODUCTION:
I'm a fan of horror games and movies, but I'm also very cautious with this genre. I often have to cheat and see how the whole game (or movie) will play out before giving it a go. It's not that I care so much how it ends, just that all too often a good concept is ruined with cheap thrills and gore, none of which makes for good horror.

When it comes to horror-made RM games, I usually hear that there wasn't enough combat. I didn't know combat was a necessity in a horror game. It's true, I'm a big fan of some of the older classics (Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Dino Crisis), but with RM games, creating an action survival horror game is not the easiest task. Besides, when it comes to horror, for me it's all about story and atmosphere first and foremost.

OVERVIEW:
This is one such horror game that takes more of a story-driven route than it does an active route. The end result comes across more of a psychological thriller than it does a gorefest. While it's true there is much gore to be seen throughout the mansion, and there are hints of cannibalism, sexual assault, murder, and Satanism, most of these have occurred before the game begins. The game itself puts the player in the midst of all this while they explore the mysteries of the mansion and tries to piece together the clues given throughout the game.

On a personal level, I found this to be a genuinely creative endeavor, and I was mighty pleased to play this through, even after having watched a youtube video of it beforehand. However, after giving it some further thought, there are certainly a lot of flaws that bare their ugly teeth (no pun intended), and these flaws really hurt the overall experience of the game.

Desperate Love Feast begins with a strange title. In fact, it was this title that almost made me second guess the game as something silly and amateurish (like the 100+ other RM games I've played recently), and I almost gave the game a pass. However, as I said, a playthrough youtube video convinced me otherwise.

The game has little game play involved and no combat at all. It's made up primarily of atmosphere and story, so if you're expecting survival horror, turn away now. For those interested in continuing (mindful of the spoiler tags if you have not yet played this game), please continue reading.

GAME PLAY:
As I've already stated, game play is very minimal here and consists primarily of walking/running, exploring your surroundings, interacting with objects, notes, and people, and collecting keys to progress the game.

There is no combat to speak of, although a couple times throughout the game you will be forced to run and avoid an enemy, or mash the "ENTER" key to get out of a potentially bad situation, none of which is ever difficult.

In fact, the only real difficult part of the game involved solving clues in order to be able to put a doll together and meeting the proper criteria for the true ending.

Let me say that I'm perfectly fine with a slower paced game that involves little to no combat. It allows me to appreciate the story much more when I don't have to run from every possible danger. However, I couldn't help but think that the best moments in the game came during the first half. Here we have a rather intriguing puzzle involving a doll, with some cryptic clues written in blood.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only real puzzle in the whole game. The second half of the game was more about collecting keys, unraveling a series of memories, and being able to get from point A to point B.

Because of this, I felt that something was drastically missing in this game that could have kept it more interactive. I would have even accepted a task for collecting two key halves to make one full key, which is an often overused cliche in these types of games.

The other problem I had with the game play was the consistency of its own rules. You often had to randomly explore an area over again just because a new item might appear. While this was acceptable for the doll puzzle (clues in the blood lead you back to areas you may have previously explored), this becomes tedious for everything else. An example of this occurs early on:

You visit a lounge and read the papers there. There is a fireplace there with nothing in it. You then leave the lounge and go into the study and read another set of papers. You then go back into the lounge to discover a key is in the fireplace. None of the papers you read have anything to do with this room, the key, or the need to visit both places to get the key to appear. They're just backstory of the main characters. So this really becomes a matter of random exploration, which tends to make a game feel more tedious than it needs to be.

My rating for Game Play is 2/5. The first half is better than the second, but there is a desperate need for something more than just random exploration.

ATMOSPHERE:
This is probably the most pleasing aspect of the game. While it doesn't boast death defying demons or psychotic killers hiding around every corner, it still manages to create a foreboding dread about what you will find as you continue to explore the mansion.

The resources here appear to be a mix of RTP and custom, and the audio sounds somewhat familiar, but not so much that they ruined the experience. In fact, the audio fits very well with the mood and is appropriately balanced between sound effects and melody.

The visuals look good for being primarily RTP, and the best of it occurs in the kitchen and doll room. Most of the notes you read are written in blood, and this drives home just how insane our antagonist actually is without relying on slasher techniques.

My rating for Atmosphere is 5/5. Atmosphere is very important in creating a horror game, and I felt that the developer nailed it here.

STORY:
Now we come to the meat and potatoes of all good story-driven games... the actual story itself. And in games like this (where game play and combat take a backseat), story is almost as important, if not more so, than atmosphere.

Let me start off by saying there is a large difference between story and the way the story is written. I enjoyed the story, for the most part, and found myself guessing the outcome of the game. However, I also found the story (or rather the way it was written and plays out) was the weakest part of the game.

First, I realize that the game was translated into English, and naturally there is bound to be some misspellings or issues with grammar. There's probably going to be words that don't have an English counterpart, and that is to be expected. However, when one sees words like "suite" instead of "suit" and "decolates" instead of "decorates" - this shows the importance of having a proofreader on the team. Misspelled words can make an otherwise good story appear sloppy.

Then you have the dreaded ellipsis (...), used abundantly throughout the game. In fact, more often than not, they're followed by more than 3 dots, and they appear in almost every bit of conversation.

...Reading words like.... this... can seem... very tedious and.... annoying, especially.... when their our mispeled words.... to try and... understand.

This is just terrible writing. Because it was a short horror game, I was able to stomach this. However, if I were to see this in a longer game (such as an rpg), I'd probably give up playing within the first five minutes.

Ellipsis should only be used to convey brief moments of silence or thought, or to drive the emphasis on a pause, but used sparingly so that the impact is felt.

Now that I've gotten the writing out of the way, let's discuss the story itself. It's a creepy, psychological descent into the mind of a brutal killer, and the notes you find scattered along the way helps to make this even more unsettling. However, there are things in the story that I felt weren't explained very well, or created more questions.

!!!SPOILER TIME!!! IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE TRUE ENDING, THEN I ADVISE YOU TO NOT OPEN THE SPOILER TAG!!!

It's important to realize that with psychological stories, it's acceptable to create a surreal environment where the player (or watcher) questions what really happened, if things happened the way the way they were shown, or if their eyes are playing tricks on them. Usually these kind of games leaves clues along the way, and once you realize the outcome of the story you can go back and re-examine the clues again for those "aha" moments.

Naturally, when I played this game I expected that Takuma was really Chihiro, or rather a sort of split personality of Chihiro, and that Chihiro was really some sort of serial killer that has killed multiple familes over the past 14 years. The clues lead us to believe that, especially since we have access to Chihiro's memories. However, this did not play out that way at all. Chihiro is written as a completely separate character from Takuma who believes he was wronged (over a very minor broken promise), which is the reason for Takuma's current situation. Not to mention, their difference in age is somewhere around 15 years.

Throughout the game, Takuma is given a series of memories belonging to Chihiro, but it's never explained how he is able to witness these memories. If these two characters were one and the same, then it would make sense, but again, the game shows otherwise. Sure, Chihiro may have some supernatural powers about him (never fully explained but hinted at), and his presence is felt even after the true ending, but how does one induce another with their memories without casting a spell on them, or putting them into a trance, or invading their dreams?

As for whether this is a dream or not, it's pretty much implied in the various endings (both good and bad) that it is not a dream, and not once is Takuma shown to be possessed or influenced with drugs or spells to be able to relive Chihiro's memories.

Next is the doll. The doll is creepy, and I loved every moment of it, but it's not explained who the doll is. The doll refers to Takuma as her brother, but it's clearly Chihiro's sister, by both looks and memories and the way the doll speaks to Shin (Chihiro's pet dog). Again, this would imply that Takuma and Chihiro are one and the same, but the true ending seems to imply otherwise.

Then we come across the Red Book of Satan. Why is this room even here? Who created it? And what does this have to do with the game? Chihiro's parents couldn't have created it. The whole point of the game was that they were religious fanatics who despised anything red, because they figured it represented evil, and had their son locked away because he had a red eye.

So was this room and book created after Chihiro's family was killed? If so, for what purpose? Chihiro was born with the red eye, so his being "The Red Eye Demon" couldn't have come from the book. Did he have another contract with the devil that we don't know about?

And then there is the stranger we bump into, who is looking for something. This happens to be the very same Red Book of Satan. If you see the secret ending, it's implied that he makes a contract with the devil to be with his family (whom I assume is dead). It's a subplot that doesn't make sense, except set the pattern for a sequel. It implies there is something more sinister at work, but we're never sure in what way, or if it has anything to do with Chihiro's own madness. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Figuring out the stranger's role in all of this (and getting the True Ending) is a complete chore, and requires the player to wander around aimlessly while they continue to explore rooms they've explored multiple times before, hoping to see something changed, only to realize there are more questions than answers, and the few answers there are makes little to no sense.

If the stranger's role is significant, it should have been included as part of the main story, or at least developed with more clues. Otherwise, it should have been left out entirely.


My rating for Story is 1.5/5. A creepy plot is no match for poor writing and confusing unresolved plot holes.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
It may seem odd that with such a low score (especially in Story) that I could still enjoy and recommend this game. I certainly didn't want my enjoyment to appear biased, and regardless of how much I appreciate the game for what it is, I can't deny the bigger flaws that get in the way. If you are looking for something casual and slow-paced, within a nightmarish landscape, you should give this one a go. If you're looking for something more hardcore, with heart-pumping adrenaline, and a story that matches Lovecraft's finest, you're time will be better spent elsewhere.

Final verdict is 2.83/5. Since I'm forced to round to the nearest .5 decimal, I had to either bring this up to a 3/5 or lower it to 2.5/5. I decided to lower it for one simple reason. Because game play is lacking here, more emphasis falls on the story which, unfortunately, is riddled with flaws.

Posts

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Wow, what a through review you gave us! It's really nice, thank you very much for spending time on this.

Yes, I agree with you on the misspellings, I and testers really didn't notice it while we test out the game. 100% my fault. I could correct them and update again.

For the dots ..., I don't know why, but most of the Japanese developers love to put way too many dots in the text. I agree with you, it was rather irritating to me too, but that's how developer had it so I left it as is.

I am working on the next series and removing unnessesary dots and making sure this time to proofread carefully.

I really thank you for your great outputs, this is really nice.

Oh, I am going to add that there is no combat in this game to the description, thank you again.
No problem at all. I appreciate the work that goes into translating games. I think there is a misconceived idea that you developed the game and then translated it, which is what I had thought as well when I wrote the review.

That doesn't change what I thought of the game itself, but it does push the criticism more towards the actual game developer rather than the translator. But I agree with your thoughts on the ellipsis; using them more sparingly would help a lot.
Thank you again for the input! I think I stated that this is not my game in the description, maybe I will review it, thank you, it really helps me.

Nevertheless, I agree with you 100% that misspelling and incorrect grammar does affect game itself a great deal. Next game, I will test it much thoroughly, thank you again, these reviews really help me :)
Fantastico!!!!!!! completato tutto!
author=nemesis25
Thank you again for the input! I think I stated that this is not my game in the description, maybe I will review it, thank you, it really helps me.


You probably did and I just missed it. In any case, it's good to have somebody translating games we wouldn't otherwise get to see or play (without learning Japanese ourselves).
Thank you again for the reply and thoughtful comment :) Next game, I will get more help/testers so that people can fully enjoy the game itself!
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