Written by sPINDRAFT 12/23/2013
Originally released in 2010 for the Nintendo DS system by developers Renegade Kid, based in Autin, TX, the game was considered a great candidate for the high performance gaming of PC by the devs at Memetic Games (of Cape Town, South Africa) and by all rights the game looks good on screen. I myself do not play console versions of games at all (just can’t get behind the X, square, triangle, right paddle thing) so I cannot give an accurate comparison of the game between the two systems but I do play a heap of PC games from single player downloads to massive online virtual craziness from several genres of gaming including RPG, FPS, horror adventure, casual world building etc. so I can get a sense of one that is not behaving properly, has archaic controls or simply wants too much power to run effectively.
‘Dimentium II’ fits into the first category; it starts off wonderful, the gameplay is engaging, the visuals are good, the monsters are great, the puzzles are cool and it makes you manage your gameplay which I thought was a great accomplishment in the games build but it does have its issues. The biggest problem is the game wanted to crash at key moments (a play on words here folks) when you were well past a save point or needed the key or combination your were trying to pick up to get to the next section and a new save. At one point a simple re-start of the game solved the problem but the very next one required a game update and the third one I have not resolved yet. Suffice it to say that this is very frustrating behaviour from a game that would otherwise entice you to play all the way through (an important thumbs up for a 2010 game since ‘Deadly Premonition’ was so damn wacked out you had to be a member of a cult to stick with it).
I will say that the game crashes and other bugs seem to be random for different players as witnessed by forum posts concerning initial problems and looking at the system requirements for PC they seem to be in line with this type of game (actually, after seeing the game live it should run flawlessly at the operating specs listed on the website). Other players have not experienced the same crashes I have and I have not experienced some of the other problems being posted by players so it would seem that the issue is in the startup itself getting its wires crossed for whatever reason, maybe it just orders itself randomely for different OS’s (I’m on WIN 8) but whatever the problem is the dev’s do seem to be working out the kinks and if I don’t get to finish this game right now I will definelty be coming back to it.
Now, back to managing your gameplay; after playing a couple of alpha releases and then making an attempt at ‘Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut’ it was quite refreshing to get a hold of something with a little staying power and game play in it (nothing against the alpha’s, they were good, but alpha’s are incomplete summaries of a game). I started ‘Dimentium II’ not really knowing what to expect but right out of the gate I was impressed with the fresh delivery, the story immediately sets up confussion for the player and leaves you feeling kind of helpless; your base instincts for survival kick in and you approach open doors and corners with caution, not willing to run headlong into the unknown. My first flashback was of ‘Outlast’ but the intense pace and greusomeness is not present here, this game has more of a thorazine approach to it that gives it its own dreadful pace of calm insanity, awesome.
You play as William Redmoor, a psych patient at the Bright Dawn Treatment Center for the Criminally Insane located in Pelf, Michigan (its not on a map kiddos, purely fictional) somewhere near Lake Michigan; my guess is on a small frozen inlet near Detroit due to its apparent connection to the fishing industry and the fact that a Detroit newspaper did an article on it (not really, now put the Google down and step away from the screen). You come to after undergoing an operation to a world full of crazy visions, monsters, a mad doctor and horrible experiments on patients with no recollection of why you are here. Somehow you escape the facility and go in search of your missing wife and daughter as you bounce from an insane dimension into the real world outside all the while tormented by the mad doctor’s creations.
Oh my, I must regress at this juncture of digital typeset to page, I started the game again last night to see if the current road block was still in place and lo-and-behold I got the skeleton key; it was now a full throttle run to Chapter III and the ride was the best yet. The end of the village in Chapter II becomes a deadly puzzle in itself, no cut screen sliding piece tricks here, the whole enviroment is a problem that must be negotiaited in the correct order to survive or at least trim down the nasties you must contend with. Your first experience with the Wendigo Witch is coming up and as far as this writer is concerned it is the high light of the game thus far, an absolutely incredible frontal assault that pits you against the witches minions and requires some skiled timing to be successful. The witch herself makes several appearances causing a glitch in your defense just when you think you got the timing down to a science. I play a lot of horror games so it takes a lot to get my goosebumps to acting up but this segment accomplished just that; it is fast, keeps you moving, changes it attack at random intervals and requires you to maintain a precise and ordered defense through it all, absolutley beautiful piece of design. Whew!
One thing I always try to do is find any historical references within a game and there are a couple here, the first is with the doctor becoming a vessel for Malatesta, a great suggestion of factual tie’s to the story. Erico Malatesta was an Italian anarchist who lived in the late 1800′s into the early 1900′s, he was a political activist who among other things fought against the labor unions of his time; essentially he fought against the establishment and was considerd a radical troublemaker. The doctor in our story does not seem to have any political convictions on the surface but he is definetly anti-something and must be making his monstrous creations for some ultimate purpose. The connection with a real life anarchist is interesting and it is always fun to find these little tidbits of info about a game.
The second historically acurate item is the Windigo Witch (Wendigo) “a demonic half-beast creature appearing in the legends of the Alqonquian peoples along the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes Region of both the United States and Canada”(Wikipedia 12/25/2013). The creature is capable of possessing humans and is associated with canabalism, the legend has even created its very own pycho medical term in ‘wendigo psychosis’; so far as I can tell to date though there is no mention of cannabalism in the game, unless your counting the crazy beasts wanting to eat your unlucky ass, but the use of a local legend or mythological beast in the story is very cool and shows an attention to detail on the part of Renegade Kid (the original devs).
All in all this is a pretty amazing game, it does not come at you wide open and without mercy like some games do, Dimentium II creates its own, more controlled, pace that causes a natural hesitation in the player’s actions that once you learn how to use it actually becomes key to your very survival. Rushing around head long in this world will not get you very far, your ability to restock ammo and health supplies are limited so you must be resourceful and calculating to win here, trading off for a sledghammer or knife at key times in a battle or planning the use of your guns ahead of time (usually after you have already died once in the scenario) is paramount to successful outcomes in the confrontations with the docs creations.
In most games the crashes and other minor bugs would be a complete turn off but remember it is a port from DS to PC and this can sometimes involve some growing pains. Dimentium II is definitely a game worth seeing to the end, it is a well thought out world with an enticing game speed and mood that makes you want to know what is around that next bend or behind that door you don’t have the key for. Check it out, the witch is bad ass.
HAG Score - 8.8