Dementium II Review
The short, simple answer: Yes.
Before diving deeper into the review, I want to talk a little about the first Dementium. I have to admit, I have a strange kind of attachment to it. I bought Dementium on an impulse, during the beginning of my senior year of high school. For that reason, I associate it with a lot of good memories - I can remember the day I bought it, playing through it on a rainy November day, and talking to some of my friends about it. I know, I know, maybe that’s not an indication that the game is any good… but I say it is. If Dementium had been boring, it wouldn’t have made the same impression.
But moving on to its sequel, I want to say right off the bat that Dementium II is an amazing experience on the DS. If you’re a survival horror fan, and you own a DS, go buy it. There’s no reason not to.
There are only two flaws I have with Dementium II. The first is its length. Granted I played it on easy, it only took me a day to beat. 3 hours and 33 minutes to be exact (hmm, if you double that, it’s 666 - that’s kind of creepy and suitable for a game like this). The first Dementium took me much longer (around 5 or 6 hours).
I don’t consider this a flaw so much because the game is always fun and interesting. You want to keep playing. The first game got monotonous because the environments were so similar, and those 5 or 6 hours felt a lot longer. That’s simply not the case in Dementium II. The pacing is great. If you’re getting bored with one environment (and I doubt that you will), it’ll change quickly and without warning. And if the length bothers you, it has a survival mode, too. From what I’ve seen, the survival mode is pretty cool. I haven’t really tried it out though.
The other flaw is the story. If you’ve been reading my reviews, you know how important a good story is to me. From the beginning, Dementium II promises better storytelling than its predecessor. You get a lot of insight into William Redmoor (the same character from the first Dementium). But when the story starts to pick up and you’re really getting into it, it kind of fades away. The story is pretty cryptic, too, and it would have been nice to find out once and for all what’s really going on. By the end, you really don’t know much more than when you started.
I really wanted to know what happened to William’s wife and daughter, but you don’t learn much. It seemed like the story of William’s family was at the heart of Dementium II, but then that plot disappeared altogether after defeating the Windigo Witch. The ending of Dementium II is strange and abrupt, but I appreciate it more in retrospect. I have to say, though, that it comes out of nowhere and leaves a lot of loose ends.
Now that those minor issues are out of the way, I want to talk about why Dementium II works… and ultimately, why you should get a copy. Dementium II, like its predecessor, relies on atmosphere. Like the best survival horror games, it has a really unsettling atmosphere. You never feel safe, and you’re always on edge. Play the game with headphones in the dark. I guarantee you that it’s scarier than most console games.
The first person shooter genre is a great match on the DS. Your hands might get a little tired, but it’s fun, regardless. I recommend you play Dementium II a little bit at a time. Take a few breaks (get a cup of coffee) and come back to it. It’s amazing how the creepy atmosphere lingers with you after you close the system.
The enemies, the weapons, the environments - they’re all cleverly designed. I’m a huge fan of the alternate reality concept in Dementium II. Just when you’re comfortable in one setting, a whining noise comes over and the screen turns white: You’ve been transported to the Hell (for lack of a better word) dimension. It’s a great device and works to keep you on edge and surprised.
There’s always a feeling of tension in Dementium II. Not to spoil anything, but here’s an example (feel free to skip the next paragraph if you want to go in spoiler-free):
There’s one point where you’re in these mines - it’s similar to the mines at the end of Resident Evil 4. You hear this awful noise - somewhere between a wail and a groan. That noise is constant, and it’s really unnerving. There’s a lift that’s out of order and a note attached to it. The letter is from a man. He explains how he stole the battery that operates the lift and hid it in his boat. He doesn’t want anyone to see the unspeakable evil at the other end of the lift. You spend 25 or 30 minutes recovering the battery from the boat… and you know that the lift is only going to lead to the source of that awful noise you’ve been forced to hear all along. And Jesus, just wait until you see what’s there - it’s one of the best bosses I’ve seen on the DS.
Now, if you can’t tell, I loved playing through Dementium II. I’m actually about to go back and replay it to soak in all of the tense atmosphere (and to get one of the weapons that I somehow missed!). Before ending this review, I gotta say: One thing I miss from the first game is the rain. I loved the sound of thunder and lightening. In Dementium II, the rain and thunderstorms have been replaced by snow. It’s a style choice - I appreciate it, but would have liked a few claps of thunder here and there.
So do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy of Dementium II. It’s available through Gamestop and Amazon. Buy it, enjoy it, and support the creative minds that bring these games to life.