reviews\ May 24, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Dementium II review


Dementium II is the video game equivalent to a straight-to-video slasher. It doesn't try very hard, or at least successfully, to be innovative. It shamelessly recycles the original FPS, along with influences from the Silent Hill series, The Suffering, and the film, Jacob's Ladder. I don't mind a little imitation, pulling elements from here and there, but first you need to have a clue what to do with those elements.

William Redmoor - yes, the same, unremarkable William from before - is back in a hospital. He has barely woken from brain surgery before the hallways morph into gruesome catacombs of corroded steel with mangled corpses hanging from chains like tortured specimens. Ominous, gurgled breaths leech out of the shadows, followed by a humanoid figure, split from groin to throat by a gaping, toothy void.

What is going here? Heck if I know.

Like its predecessor, Dementium II is an atrocious example of storytelling. William allegedly murdered his wife, but doesn't remember it, of course. Now he's having disturbing visions of monsters and hearing the voice of a maniacal doctor in his head. He decides to escape (at least I think that's what he's doing), but to where, and why? Post-cards with cryptically useless messages and notes from William's dead wife are lightly scattered along the journey, but none of it links together to form a remotely compelling plot.

In place of the story, Dementium II funnels you out of the hospital and through a gauntlet of unrelated environments. Beyond the hospital walls is a ghost town, a seaside port, and a mining facility. Oh yes, now it all makes perfect sense. How did I not make the correlation between a mine-shaft and William's dead wife?

The incessant backtracking that plagued the original game has been largely removed, but in its place is a game of hide-and-seek. There will always be an inconspicuous object, key, or a tiny note with a password necessary to proceed. Finding them is a matter of strafing along the walls of every room and waiting for the "Examine" button to light up. Once again, the puzzles in your path are so ridiculous as to be comical, like a lock made of eyeballs in jars - just what every hospital needs.

Aiming, jumping, crouching, and accessing your inventory with the touch-screen couldn't be smoother. William might want to double-check the label on his pills though, because he can't seem to put one foot in front of the other. Moving forward is a herculean task even when sprinting, and, strangely enough, strafing and moving backwards are appropriately quick.

Monstrosities from the previous game return, including the god-forsaken leeches and the floating heads, but have been properly adjusted for difficulty. Some of the newer enemies, best summarized as contortions of flesh and dirty orifices, would be terrifying in HD. They are presently startling, at best, and completely annoying in later chapters. Dementium II employs Psycho-esque stingers every time an enemy is near. As you quickly learn, avoiding combat is an essential skill, as that 'ree-ree-ree' sound echoes in your eardrums with piercing sadism.

Dementium II desperately wants to be one of the big boys of horror, but it's hard to be scared of a modern game that barely looks and plays up to the standards of the original Quake. Dementium II is visually impressive, "for a DS game," and controls well, "for a DS game," but perhaps the problem is that it is a DS game. It's hard to be scared of blocky polygons on a tiny screen while waiting for the train. Then again, that still doesn't solve the problem of abysmal storytelling.

Below Average

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