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Achieves creepiness without butchering too many RTP villagers

  • Gibmaker
  • 02/13/2008 05:48 PM
In Death Proclaimed you play as Alice, a woman in a shoulder-less dress who returns to her desolate hometown in search of answers to the mysteries of her past. (One mystery is how she turned from a blonde into a brunette?)

This is an Action RPG modeled after Silent Hill in terms of sensibility and atmosphere. You crawl through a variety of maze-like environments encountering riddles, mysterious characters and the odd bloody spectacle. The outcome of the story is a tad predictable (what small village DOESN'T have insane religious rituals?) but the game gives you plenty of little surprises along the way.

Of course, what most threatens to ruin the enjoyment of this game is a flaw in the combat system. In order to damage enemies you must move INTO an adjacent square while swinging your weapon; if you're all ready standing beside them you can swing away all you want and you won't hurt a flea. Meanwhile enemies can damage YOU just by getting close. It's unfair and it makes combat simply impossible. (Other than bosses I think I actually bothered to kill, like, 5 guys.)

You have to overlook this issue in order to be optimistic about the game. If only it were more fair for the player, combat would certainly be intense. Enemy AI is sophisticated and unpredictable. Rather than just stomp stupidly toward the player, enemies pause, back off, charge and teleport to catch you off guard. (The movement of the "sewer" monsters is particularly terrifying.) Boss battles are involved as well, although I think bosses' HP could have been cut down by at least half.

Of course, this game being modeled after Silent Hill, you're certainly allowed to run away from combat. But the very tricks mentioned above make fleeing from enemies almost as hard as fighting them.

The game is replete with eye candy, in the tradition of Silent Hill games. Events and gimmicks are common, and often very subtle. Without spoiling any surprises, I'll say that every area is saturated with an understated weirdness that goes beyond just ambiguous level design and creepy music selections. The atmosphere is certainly the forte of this game. You'll wonder if the author made this game as therapy for going through his OWN childhood-village-ritual thing.

Unfortunately, I think that frustrating combat, as well as several other critical bugs and mistakes, will discourage many players from finishing the game. Here are things to look out for. (Sorry to Nocturna if these have all ready been corrected in more current releases):

- The "bookshelf" puzzle in the first area is hard to solve due to confusing language (and a math error) in the game. The solution is to use book 2 twice on the shelf, and book 3 once.

- In the sewers, ONE of the torch stands can be interacted with (you may never realise this since there's no incentive to check all the torch stands)

- Beating the "smiley face chase" in the mental asylum depends on the fact that swinging the KNIFE (no other weapon) in this area causes you to dash forward. (This doesn't happen in any other part of the game!!)

Should it be necessary for a reviewer to have to point these things out? No. Which is why DP can't get uber stars. It's a shame that a few oversights can spoil an entire game, but that's the reality of game design. (For the previous reviewer in particular ...)

However, if you can muscle through the enemy encounters and you're not adverse to busting out the editor if you get stuck (I certainly am not) then you'll be treated to quite a dark, mind-bending experience.

Rating: 3/5

Best feature:
- Map design and atmosphere

Worst feature:
- Bugs in puzzles and combat system

Best enemy:
- Pistol-wielding pirates

Best rooms:
- the falling-head room (underground building)
- the falling-head room ... if you go back in.
- the "smile" dungeon (asylum)
- return to the underground building (final area)

Worst way to die in the game:
- Consumed by smile faces in the asylum

Jaw-droppingest moment:
- Reed's death scene

Best line of dialogue:
"Is my death ... really proclaimed?"
(Just like the TITLE OF THE GAME!!)