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Dementium: The Ward - NDS - Preview

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Posted by: jkdmedia

E3 2007 Preview

When Renegade Kid sat down, as an independent developer, and were thinking of the type of game they would like to make, the horror-survival genre seemed like a good pick. The team, which was comprised of members with a good deal of experience in the game developing business, wanted to develop their first game for the Nintendo DS, a platform they had had prior experience with. There were no true first-person survivor-horror out on the platform and some interesting elements could be achieved using the touch screen.

The result was Dementium: The Ward, a game that combines solid graphics, a heart-thumping soundtrack, some of the typical elements one would expect from a game of this type, but in a manner that fits perfectly on the DS platform. Quite frankly, the game looks good, sounds good and plays well.

With about seven hours of gameplay, players may wonder how such a genre could be realized on a platform that is used for ‘on-the-go’ gaming. Simple. Each time you walk through a door, the game saves. Each time you make an entry in your notebook (by using the stylus and writing notes to yourself), the game saves. If you have to shut down, for whatever reason, the game will resume at the last save point.

As with other games of this type, there is a health meter that is crucial to your survival. Even seeing things like giant bugs may cause you some distress and your health will drop.

The game begins with you achieving consciousness in a mental hospital. There is a speaker urging all residents to evacuate, the walls are strewn with blood and zombies (and other creatures) are roaming the hallways. You see signs that accuse someone (you, maybe?) of being a murderer. How much of this is real, and how much is imagined will be revealed as you progress through the story.

“Even though you are concentrating on that three-inch screen,” said Renegade Kids owner and creative director Jools Watsham, “we wanted to try to capture the big-screen feel.”

“We are putting everything we can into it (Dementium),” he said, “it’s all about attention to detail.”

“We definitely exceeded our expectations.”

Spawn points for monsters are random, so each time into the game will yield a slightly different experience. The touch screen is used to look around, to select items from the inventory, and it features a bar that will allow players to take certain actions, like opening doors, picking up or looking at items in the environment. The puzzles are typical of the genre – you may be confronted with a door with a numerical keypad as a lock. It is up to you for search the environment for clues as to what the numbers may be to unlock the door and exit the area. The game builds on itself, with each level increasing the challenge.

The sound was handled well, but the graphics are very nice for the genre and platform. This looks like a game you might see on a bigger console. It was also a bit minimalistic in terms of the control scheme, which means you can jump right in and play.

Dementium: The Ward has the right elements and is blazing a new trail on the DS. This is definitely a title to keep an eye on as it nears its November release.

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