Originally released as a three-part episodic game on Steam, Decay: The Mare saw its release on Xbox One offer up all three episodes as part of a complete experience.
Set in the darkly oppressive & mysterious Reaching Dreams Rehabilitation Centre, the game puts you in the shoes of Sam, a recovering drug addict.
A point & click game that draws from the well of Silent Hill, in regards to dreams & reality merging to the point where the character no longer knows what is real or not.
The opening narration sets the horror scene up nicely. With the very first action that you must complete being to take medication on the table. This sets up the mysteriousness of what will follow nicely. As you’re left wondering if everything you’re seeing is all part of a drug-induced dream.
The game plays out in slide-show fashion (similar to the likes of classic point & clickers like Myst) with a simple tap of the directional pad moving the player to the next room/area/slide. With it being a rehabilitation centre, there aren’t a whole bunch of areas open to the player to solve with many doors locked & puzzles to solve.
These are varied but often far too simple to really challenge. Scenes, while sharp are sparse with some areas having nothing but cheap scare tactics to offer.
It’s these clichéd & lacklustre attempts at scares that let the game down. When it’s not trying to make you jump, it’s throwing out the ‘same old, same old’. If this was a horror movie, we’d be tearing it to shreds. As we get the usual ‘what just walked past the window’, ‘loud noises’, ‘spooky imagery’ and ‘scary photos’. Very few are actually effective.
What is effective though is the setting & the sound effects/music. Reaching Dreams is a cold & uncaring place, one that fills you with dread as you uncover each new horror. While initially feeling confused, the story eventually unravels to an extremely satisfying conclusion provided you get the ‘good ending’.
The sounds & subtle music ramp up the creep factor & it reminded me off some of the more horror moments of early Resident Evil games & the Silent Hill series.
Even with all three episodes in one, Decay: The Mare can be completed in a handful of hours. Just over an hour if you’re speed running it & know exactly where to go/how to complete puzzles. Even without that knowledge it will barely take you over the three hour mark. This is a little disappointing particularly as Episode 1 is such a ‘meh’ start.
It gets better but with average looking visuals, a short story, clichéd horror elements and gameplay that feels really old, Decay: The Mare is not going to live long in the memory.
If you’re looking for a fast & complete walk-through check out our videos below!
Decay: The Mare
The Final Score - 6/10