A Horror isn’t just about jump scares. It’s also about suspense, the lead up to what is behind the door, what may or may not be waiting for you in the future. Decay – The Mare is a psychological horror adventure about Sam Eldritch, a man who is trying to improve his mental health. This may not be a great mental health facility, because things get weird only after Sam downs some medication.
There is some monologue at first, but this is a solo adventure, after all. Throughout most of what I have played, all you will be hearing is unsettling music. There’s nothing scarier than being alone, right? As you walk through this facility, you will encounter puzzles and items familiar to any adventure game veteran. You will find items that have a clear use, while other items are mysterious. Decay does items right. The logic behind what item gets used where makes sense. If you have a hammer, for instance, you’re using it to hit something. Other adventure games would have you cycling through your inventory to figure out what item will move you forward.
I appreciate that Decay does not hold your hand. You have to rely on your own ability to determine the significance of items, locations, and animations. There is a hint system, if you want to be dragged to the next puzzle- but you still have to burn a brain cell or two to get through to the next objective.
This is where adventure games hit a snag with their player audience. When the answer is not quite obvious, they go running around the environment, trying to see if peg a fits in slot b. I had to watch a walkthrough for one puzzle I was absolutely bothered by. It was a puzzle involving doors, and even the creator of this video walkthrough had to search for an answer on the internet to solve it. I guess if I banged my head against it long enough, I would have figured out what was not immediately clear.
My true issues with Decay aren’t with the game. Decay looks great, and plays with no glitches in sight. What bothered me was its lack of menu options. Shining Gate Software is not a big company with a lot of titles to their credit, but I still expected the game to have resolution options, at least. There are Steam achievements, which you can access within the game, but not even an option to turn full screen on or off? I guess it’s better that developers put time into the game rather than bells and whistles that don’t mean much to the actual gameplay.
Decay – The Mare is a creepy, brain-twisting game. It is not a jump scare horror-fest, but its mood and ambiance build a great foundation for a great psychological journey. Any adventure game fan would appreciate a trip to this mental institution. Decay is available on the Steam platform for about $10 US, or £8. You can also find it in Apple’s app store. It has been translated into many languages, including French, German, Russian and Japanese. Decay – The Mare, is available now.
Reviewer: Vichus Smith