Decay: The Mare is an episodic point and click horror game. Each episode is meant to be played in roughly an hour challenging gamers to solve a number of puzzles. The challenges of the game vary from simple gathering, to mazes, to tracking down multiple clues. It’s challenging, atmospheric, and scary.
Part of what makes this game so interesting is how the plot reveals itself as you play. In other words to give too much of a plot summary would completely destroy the experience. The general idea of the game is that you play Sam, who goes to Reaching Dreams because he is an addict. However not long after he gets there he realizes this is no normal hospital, and his dreams begin to get twisted. What is wrong with the hospital, Sam, and everyone else there reveals itself over the course of the episodes.
Decay: The Mare is a point and click game, that is a call back to older computer games. Controls are simple, and straight forward, the core of the gameplay depends on the puzzles and gathering clues as opposed to more action based gameplay. This works well for the atmosphere the game is attempting to cultivate. There is a sense of dread as every time you progress the world only seems to get more messed up, yet you are forced to push yourself forward. The game exists in a really good space of challenging without being overly frustrating. The puzzles themselves take time to figure out, but you shouldn’t be stuck for too long. There is a pretty impressive hint system that will range from small hints, to walking you through parts of the game to help those that get lost. It’s refreshing as some point and click games can get overly frustrating, this game gives enough help without taking away the challenge.
What this game really shines at though is atmosphere. The setting is very creepy, and despite each game having small locations the developers did a lot with them. Little details are added to each space to help create a scary environment. Every room you walk into has something that you will dread coming into contact with. Not only that but there are enemies chasing you through the game, each window, painting, door, etc could have a jump scare waiting behind it at any given moment. Now many people might think that jump scares aren’t really scary, however this game combines them with a strong suspense and a truly terrifying atmosphere. It keeps you on edge from start to finish. The soundtrack is wonderful, with one of the most haunting title scores I’ve ever heard. The detail put into this game is what makes it shine so much.
It’s this aspect of the game that makes it truly stand out to me. No it’s not a long game, nor does it have the most up to date graphics (in fact it looks very much like a call back to older horror pc games), but there is so much effort into making the product not feel limited. Focusing on an oppressive atmosphere and a few truly creepy and terrifying moment serves the game well, and will spark fear in the gamer.
In addition to the effort put into the atmosphere, there is a lot put into the story. The story is confusing to say the least. You are given just enough to keep your curiosity alive, but not so much that the mystery dies. The story has excellent pacing and is extremely well written. It’s worth driving forward and dealing with the fear in order to unlock the pieces of this puzzle.
The game is not perfect but it’s really enjoyable. Good story, amazing atmosphere, and solid gameplay. It’s a nice indie horror game that balances jump scares with suspense, and well worth checking out.