Dementium II (DS Review) by Carl B.
Publisher: SouthPeak Interactive
Developer: Renegade Kid
System: Nintendo DS
Release: May 2, 2010
November 28, 2010, by Carl B. - Renegade Kid is one of the few gutsy developers on DS. In 2007 the developer released Dementium: The Ward, a first-person survival horror title, and the game has reached a cult status among the more "hardcore" DS fans. Renegade Kid released Moon for the DS in 2009, a darker themed sci-fi first-person shooter. Moon was met with mixed critical acclaim, with many reviews citing the lack of variation in enemies as a problem while praising the game's similarities to the Metroid series. Both games featured excellent controls on the DS, and both had great atmospheric feels to them. On May 4, 2010, Renegade Kid released Dementium II exclusively for DS. This title promised to fix problems found in the first game, particularly its lack of environments. Does Dementium II take the series to the next level, or is it more of the same?
Dementium II features an even more wacked-out story than the first game had. Players take control of William, a patient in the Bright Dawn Treatment Center. When the game starts up something bad is going on, as guards are seen running in the background and alarms are ringing. After players read a postcard on William's bed, the area morphs into a demonic, hell-like version of what it once was. The area eventually morphs back after William manages to escape his cell, but the game's story is never fully explained to the player; as William continues on in his adventure he finds postcards and notes that slowly unravel the game's mysterious plot.
Unlike Dementium: The Ward, Dementium II isn't limited in scope. Some of the game's chapters take place in the Bright Dawn Treatment Center, and others have players exploring the snow-covered villages surrounding the facility. To shake things up and give the game an extra scare-factor, the area will warp every now and then into the demonic version.
The atmosphere in Dementium II is nothing short of fantastic. The game's soundtrack consists of mostly ambient tunes, but more up-tempo sounds will play when players engage in battle with an enemy. However, the game's soundtrack sounds muffled most of the time, especially for enemy sound effects. Dementium II's constant state of loneliness is so authentic that it rivals that of Metroid, and even surpasses it in some cases due to Dementium's horror factor. Enemies never jump out of windows or run at the player from seemingly nowhere to get a cheap scare, but the fact that William is completely alone in the messed-up, ghoul-filled world, with the only resemblance of other human life in the form of postcards and notes, makes the experience scarier than most survival horror games.
Dementium II carries over the fantastic first-person controls of its predecessor. Movement is controlled via the d-pad and aiming is controlled with the touch screen. The shoulder buttons command William's equipped weapon, depending on whether the player is right or left handed. Switching weapons is controlled by a sliding menu on the touch screen that pauses when used, so players are able to switch weapons or heal themselves without taking damage in the heat of combat. Dementium: The Ward forced players to switch out between their weapon or the flashlight, but in Dementium II, players are able to dual-wield both the flashlight and a weapon, as long as the weapon doesn't require two hands like the sledgehammer and shotgun. Like almost every other survival horror game, ammo is hard to come by in Dementium II.
Instead of letting players save their progress at any time they wish, Dementium II uses an annoying save point system. This wouldn't be as bad if the map on the bottom screen had indicators of where save points are located, similar to the Metroid series, but in Dementium II save points are few and far between in each of the game's many chapters. Luckily, there isn't much backtracking involved in Dementium II, so players won't have to rely on the map too much.
12/15 - An ambient soundtrack that sets the game's mood. However, the overall quality of the soundtrack often sounds muffled.
15/20 - Frame rate issues don't bog Dementium II down, but muddy textures are hard to ignore. Variation in environments, especially compared to the first game, is great.
19/25 - A nine to ten hour long adventure on average will surely give players enjoyment. Not much to do after completion, however.
38/40 - Fantastic first-person control on the DS and other refined features give Dementium I the edge over its predecessor. Infrequent save points may annoy some players.
85/100 - Dementium II is another great survival horror title from Renegade Kid. It doesn't quite push the DS to its limits, but the title features the best first-person controls on the handheld and an atmosphere that can't be beat.