Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Oct 132023

Last month, we talked about the announcement of a Dementium: The Ward remaster for the Nintendo Switch.

At the time, I said that as part of this October’s celebration of spooky games, I might play either that or the 3DS version I already had. Well, I decided to play the 3DS version, Dementium Remastered.

My first thought upon starting up Dementium was, “Oh, this game will benefit from having a right stick to control the camera,” since camera controls were otherwise relegated to either the face buttons or the touchscreen on my old 3DS. Nevertheless, I eventually got used to using the stylus to aim.

You also use the stylus to write notes in your notebook, and that’s one of its best features. I loved actually writing down notes about puzzles, lock combinations, etc. in the notebook, so it’s a shame that mechanic is presumably cut from the new remaster. It’s a small touch, but one that makes the game feel a bit more unique.

Combat in Dementium plays like a first-person shooter, with several weapons you obtain along the way. You can’t hold a flashlight and a weapon at the same time, so a considerable amount of tension is added from needing to quickly switch to a weapon when you see an enemy approaching. I found it beneficial to avoid certain enemies, especially since you can only use healing items right when you find them.

Bosses are especially dangerous. Without being able to bring healing items to a boss fight with you, you really need to stay alert. One boss fight was so frustrating it nearly soured my view on the whole game.

Click for Dementium boss spoilers
I’m talking about the wheelchair boss, of course. I looked up a guide, only to find advice that seemingly didn’t work in the 3DS version, and the only other major piece of advice was to look up the code for obtaining the sniper rifle to get it earlier than you should. I finally beat him by adopting a very aggressive approach of shooting him and chasing after him instead of playing it safe, but it was a very frustrating fight.

Dementium is split into chapters, and the chapters are pretty much separate from one another. At first, I assumed I would be revisiting areas often, but that’s not the case. Backtracking is minimal and mostly occurs within the same chapter. You might see a locked box at the start of a chapter, and then spend the chapter finding what you need in order to unlock it, before moving on to a different area for the next chapter.

The backtracking can be somewhat annoying, though, because the map doesn’t mark blocked hallways. It was common for me to follow what looked like a path back to where I wanted to return to, only to find it blocked and need to take a long way around.

This factors into another flaw – the level design is kind of boring. There are a lot of areas where sections are blocked off so there’s only one way to go, and the small number of puzzles means most rooms are either empty or contain only health and/or ammo. The story is minimal and difficult to follow, too.

While this might sound like I’ve done nothing but complain about Dementium all this time, I actually had a decent time with it. The gameplay wasn’t stellar, but it wasn’t bad, either. And the audio design was great; I often could tell what enemies were in a room with me just from the sounds I heard, and could plan accordingly. That aforementioned frustrating boss also had me using audio cues to determine when I should act.

Dementium is the sort of game I found to be just fine. I’m not jumping up and down to recommend it to people, but I still enjoyed playing it. Maybe someday we’ll take a look at its sequel, Dementium II.

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  6 Responses to “Celebrating All Things Spooky: Dementium”

  1. Were the horror or scares impacted at all by playing on a small, portable screen? I found RE1 easier to play on the DS than the Wii because I was less freaked out by everything. (Until the new boss they added in that could only be fought by touchscreen and was impossible to defeat, at least…)

    • Hmm, I don’t think the small screen impacted that too much for me, but then, a lot of the horror aspect for me came from “Oh no, if this monster kills me, I’ll lose the progress I made!”

  2. Ahhh I do miss having an easy touch screen and styluc for taking notes on puzzle games. It reminds me of playing the Layton games, and I wonder now if anything like that feature will be present in the new Switch game!

  3. That’s one of the coolest things about he DS and touch screen controls in general, being able to add notes and have more information on a separate screen. Just makes me wanna play more DS games

    Also no potions for boss fights? Yikes

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