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Decay: The Mare

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A follow up to the previous game: Decay, Decay: The Mare is an episodic, first person, point-and-click adventure, horror game played from the perspective of Sam, who was recently institutionalized for drug abuse in a place called "Reaching Dreams". After taking some medicine that was left in his room and going to bed, his first night goes off the rails and Sam finds that his dreams and reality are slowly starting to run together in a seemingly endless nightmare. As the player, you'll spend 3 episodes controlling Sam as you explore the dark, decrepit, dingy environments that are very reminiscent of the early Silent Hill games where the graphics are kind of muddy, visually noisy and hard to make out clearly.

 

The core gameplay loop revolves around pointing-and-clicking your way through static environments that mostly feel abandoned, derelict and creepy. You can also control Sam with the directional pad, making him turn left, right and behind him. The images are have a muddy, old-school VHS overlay to them and feel satisfactory in overall quality, if a bit sparse and lacking details. You move your mouse cursor around to try and find hotspots that you can inspect for clues, items, coins (which serves as the game's collectibles) and newspaper clippings for backstory. You can also combine certain items, such as a metal block and hammer handle, to create a sledgehammer that will break down a brick wall, so you can find a clue to progress the plot. There's also puzzle solving mechanics that, while not overly challenging, were still satisfying to solve and represent the only sort of "traditional" gameplay in the Decay: The Mare. In regards to clue and item hunting, you'll be backtracking through various rooms a lot and it can be a little disorienting and tedious at times, since it's largely the same hallways and rooms you're navigating through.

 

There's not much in the way of animations, save for some cutscenes and a few in game moments. There's also not much in way of voice acting, save for the narrator who delivers lines rather flatly and monotonously. This is contrast the game's musical score, which is actually quite good. Specifically during the game's introduction and subsequent cutscenes.

 

Overall, Decay: The Mare falls into a lot of horror clichés which doesn't help it stand out from the pack in any significant way. It has some genuine horror moments and doesn't rely too much on cheap jump scares (I counted maybe one per episode), which is perfectly fine. The game can be completed in about 2 hours, so it's not an overly hefty adventure. There's also a binary, good ending and bad ending choice you can make at the end of the game that provides an unambiguous conclusion either way. If you can pick up on sale like I did for about $7 CAD, then Decay: The Mare can provide a short, satisfactory horror experience.

 

I'd give this game a rating of Hazy.

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