D'Avekki Studios Ltd (studio)
19 May 2017 (released)
25 June 2017
Gaming has always had a fascination with the subject of sanity and insanity. Many games tackle the subject head on with surrealistic visuals and disturbing horror elements to shock and disorientate players through a journey. Yet often enough developers get it wrong, focusing on tedious gameplay with minor shock value or substance. Very rarely do games analyse and create an intelligent and thought provoking gameplay based on the theme of insanity. Well, today I’ll talk to you about a game that does the job right.
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker puts players into the role of a new doctor, who’s replacing the late Doctor Dekker and caring for his patients. However there’s something sinister in the air as you discover a horrifying realisation that one of Doctor Dekker’s patients could well be a murder, his murder in fact. It’s up to you to question and determine which one of the five patients is the murderer, but also to keep hold of your own sanity as you dive deeper into the rabbit hole.
Gameplay is modest in execution but vastly complex and engaging in nature. You’ll have a list comprising of Doctor Dekker’s most elusive patients. By clicking on each of the names you’re presented with each patient in an almost interview set up. The experience is feels rather person and grounded due how the game uses real actors for you to engage with. This genre is known as FMV (Full motion video or Fun may vary to some people) which uses real actors and scripted responses to create an interactive movie or sorts.
FMV was big in the 90’s but sadly died out as it became vastly expensive to produce and outdated compared to the late 90’s rise of consoles. Back then you’ll find yourself cringing at the awful acting in many of these titles and bored by the lacklustre story. For this game, the approach to using FMV as a visual style helps to excel the experience and strengthen the core gameplay. The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker has assembled a great cast of believable and interesting characters. Each actor presents a unique personality, with those you can like and other you’ll fear by their unnerving nature. There’s no campy, over acting here, but rather a brilliantly interactive, high class mystery drama that’ll keep you guessing.
The core gameplay is to engage with these five patients and ask a serious of questions to engage useful responses, information on the patient and what to find out if they could possibly be the murderer. But it’s how you use this information more importantly to discover the truth. Listening out for key words and facts can reveal much about a character and using these facts to question them will reveal more. Depending on what you ask them, you’ll discover something each time you play the game. The best tactic is to repeat key words said by the patient in a previous dialogue and create a question whether it is a “yes”, “no” or something more open that’ll get a response.
As each conversation unravels, the tension, mystery and suspense grows until you’re vastly hooked on each word spoken. This is a very clever and compelling game that demands your attention and as a reward delivers a highly enjoyable and gripping tale of madness and murder. As you continue to speak, multiple paths to develop over the campaign with each path altering your own perception on each case and ultimately leads to one of many endings.
This is a blessing for the game’s replay value but at times a little frustrating as it’s unclear what path you’re heading down and saying a certain question in the wrong manner can really turn everything on its head. While there’s no save feature present in the game, this can be a little infuriating as you can simply restart from a previous conversation. I understand this decision as you’ll dive right into the game again once you finish it and much like an actual conversation, you can’t simply press a reset button.
If like me, you suffer from dyslexia, don’t worry as the game has subtitles for you to check the spelling of certain words. This is something which could’ve impaired the experience and alienated players like me without it. You may find yourself stuck during a few conversations as many later exchanges become complex and key words more vague. But there’s a handy hint option and tips that suggest using different words to get a response.
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is a wonderful gem that truly captivates from start to finish. While some small issues did pop up, this never impaired the experience at hand. This an excellent and enthralling challenge that anyone interested in psychology or murder mysteries will absolutely enjoy.
++ Challenging and gripping gameplay
++ Great acting
+ Huge replay value
- No clear indication on multiple path progression
A Steam copy of The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review