When going to rehab goes wrong.
Shining Gate Software’s Decay – The Mare has been published on Steam by Daedalic Entertainment, bringing all three chapters of psychological point and click horror for scare fans.
The story, for what it’s worth, puts the player in control of Sam, an addict who has found himself in an institution to get past his drug problem and rebuild his life. The institution is known as “Reaching Dreams”, which really should have been the first clue that something wasn’t right, but quickly becomes “stuck in nightmare” when something goes horribly wrong during his first night. Aside from possibly dissuading people from attending institutions such as this, the story doesn’t really do much to engage the player with Sam or his situation, but fortunately there is more going on than just a creepy tale.
Decay – The Mare is played in the first person, with the player moving around through a creepy environment, from one static scene to the next, finding clues and solving puzzles, all the while trying to remember their route. The gameplay areas are not especially huge, but it is quite easy to get lost if the player is not paying attention, and so revisiting areas can get a bit frustrating. The occasional cut scene breaks the static nature of the game, which can be quite enjoyable, and voice work, which is not used during the general gameplay, occasionally pops up to unsettle the tension of the admittedly creepy soundtrack.
The controls are dead simple, as they usually are in a point and click game. Players move from one scene to the next with a simple click on the screen. One annoyance is that these static scenes are designed in a certain way that when the player enters a scene, they will be facing the direction that the developers set the scene to, which can be disorienting if not the same direction from which the player entered the room. As the player investigates their nightmare surroundings, they will come across items that are stored in the inventory, which is fairly easy to access and use.
When it comes to the puzzles, they are quite enjoyable. They range in difficulty from simple to the sort of obscure combinations of items that are reminiscent of point and click adventures from years gone by. The sort of puzzle which makes absolutely no sense, but can only be solved by constantly trying different items no matter how absurd it seems. Players new to the genre may find this a bit off-putting, but there really is something enjoyable about puzzles that leave the player bemused even after they are solved.
Decay – The Mare creates a suitably threatening atmosphere for the player. Visually, the setting is dark and gritty, and quite often shocking, and there are the occasional jump scares which may convince the player to take off their headphones and turn the lights on. For the audio, the atmosphere is set with creepy piano tunes and fitting sound effects that manage to build the tension.
One of the most horrific aspects of Decay – The Mare however, is the length of the game. Although there are three chapters included in this package, the entire game can be completed in less than four hours, and there is very little by way of replayability. Currently available for £7.99 on Steam, under four hours of gameplay may not represent value for money. But the real horror is that, despite the games faults and the fact that the final chapter does conclude the story well, I wanted more. Still, at least Decay – The Mare doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Decay – The Mare is a steady paced, first-person, point and click horror adventure with good puzzles and a nice atmosphere. It is, however, very short. If you are not already a fan of point and click, then Decay – The Mare will not be for you. But if you fancy a few scares whilst solving puzzles at a sedate pace, then Decay – The Mare could be worth picking up, although it may be worth waiting for a price drop.