First person survival horrors are few and far between on the Nintendo DS. Come to think of it, I can’t actually think of any others offhand.
So it comes as a pleasant surprise that with Dementium: The Ward, we are treated to what could be a first on the Nintendo DS (although don’t quote me on that!)
Developed by Renegade Kid, Dementium: The Ward is as twisted as Silent Hill and as suspenseful as the F.E.A.R series.
The plot of Dementium: The Ward is somewhat thin. Your character wakes up in a mysterious, derelict hospital overrun by all sorts of weird, wonderful and supernatural freaks. They then have to explore the hospital to find out what's been going on. The lack of plot actually works in the game's favour, as it adds a gripping sense of mystery to the proceedings.
Graphically things are quite dark and grim, however the frame rate is smooth at a staggering 60 FPS (frames per second). The design of the creatures is particularly staggering. Along the way you can expect to encounter flesh-eating bugs, leaches that whine and zombies with mouths in their chests (at least that is what they look like, at the time of writing I can’t confirm their technical name).
Making use of the dual screens, the first person view is displayed on the top screen and the hub on the bottom screen.
To control the view/aim on the top screen, you place the stylus on the bottom screen and move it around to view your surroundings in a complete 360 degrees. On the bottom screen your inventory is displayed, along with your heart rate - the faster this goes, the less health you have.
Hearing your heart beat, along with the other freaky noises in the ward, adds to the tension. Whilst the sound design is quite good, it does highlight the limits as to what can be achieved with the DS, but Renegade Kid have done their best with what the console can offer.
The gameplay is mostly a first person shooter. Starting off with a torch and a nightstick, you soon acquire a variety of weapons, ranging from a 9mm pistol to a chainsaw. One drawback is that your character can only hold one weapon at a time, so if you need to use your gun and it's dark, you wont be able to use your torch as well - which is a bit irritating, as without the torch some rooms are pitch black.
There are a few puzzles along the way for you to work out which also add a good bit of variety to the game.
All in all, Dementium: The Ward is quite an impressive title for the Nintendo DS. Stylistically it is quite a milestone for the system, and I hope that other developers will utilise the engine Renegade Kid have developed here.
Verdict: 7 out of 10
- Good graphics
- Its’ different
- Good controls
- Save system is a bit questionable