Dementium: The Ward Preview

We check out a near-finished version of what must surely be the DS's creepiest game to date.

Appropriately scheduled for release on Halloween, Dementium: The Ward is from start-up developer Renegade Kid and a first-person survival horror game set inside a derelict hospital. We were thoroughly impressed with the game's first showing at the E3 Media & Business Summit earlier this year and are pleased to report that a recent session spent playing a near-finished version didn't disappoint either.

Quite who you're supposed to be in Dementium: The Ward isn't clear. The game starts with you waking up in a blood-soaked hospital room where the only items of interest are a key to the door and a notebook in which someone has scrawled the words "Why did you do it?" You're free to erase that somewhat disturbing message and use the notebook yourself, which is extremely useful because there are a number of puzzles in the game that involve memorizing sequences of letters or numbers. Other useful items that you'll find within minutes of waking up include a flashlight and a nightstick. The flashlight not only looks great as you use it to explore the hospital's darkened corridors but can also be used to scare off swarms of harmful cockroaches. The nightstick is used for melee attacks, of course, and although you'll be getting your hands on plenty of firearms later in the game, it's a great way to conserve ammo.

The cast of Michael Jackson's Thriller video makes a surprise appearance.

Early on in Dementium: The Ward, you'll find that ammunition for your first 9mm pistol is plentiful, as are the bottles of pills that can be used to restore your health. Both of these commodities become scarcer as you progress through the game, and by the time you're an hour or so in, you'll probably be wishing that the protagonist was the kind of guy who never leaves home without a backpack. Regardless of how many ammo boxes and pill bottles you find early on, there are definitely going to be times when you're frantically searching for more. This is because the amount of ammo that you can carry is very limited and because you can't save any pills for later use whatsoever.

Because none of the enemies in Dementium: The Ward are able to pursue you through doors (of which there are loads, though many of them are locked), one of the best ways to get by a lot of them is simply to run past them into the next room. But this isn't always as easy as it sounds, and with plenty of puzzles that need to be solved, this definitely isn't a game that you're going to get through without taking some time to explore your surroundings. Figuring out the most efficient ways to kill enemies is crucial in some cases. For example, the zombies with gaping holes in their chests can be killed with a single bullet to the heart, but it'll take at least three bullets anywhere else on their rotting bodies to take them down.

Other enemies that we've encountered in Dementium: The Ward to date include floating heads that scream as they fly toward you, legless torsos that use their arms to claw their way along ceilings before attacking you from above, and large maggotlike creatures that rush at you across floors, walls, or ceilings while making a particularly annoying noise as they do so. We've also defeated a number of the game's boss characters and found the encounters to be enjoyable, as well as varied. Depending on what weapons and ammo we had available to us at the time, we found those encounters quite challenging. Dementium's arsenal boasts a shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, a powerful revolver, and even a particularly nasty-looking medical instrument. It's worth mentioning, though, that it's possible to miss out on picking up certain weapons if you don't make a real effort to get your hands on them. For example, we ended up playing through the first boss battle without a shotgun that would've made it much easier simply because we hadn't yet figured out the combination to a gun-cabinet padlock when we stumbled on the boss in question. Initially, Dementium's corridor and room level designs are quite linear, but as you progress, the levels become more labyrinthine in nature, so taking the time to explore them is important.

This guy really doesn't like you pointing your flashlight at him.

If you're thinking that Dementium: The Ward sounds like it might have a lot in common with the early Resident Evil games, you're not too far off. It's worth mentioning that the game definitely has its share of Silent Hill-style creepiness as well, though, thanks in no small part to its sound design. As you navigate the hospital's darkened corridors, you'll almost always hear nearby enemies (as well as freaky white-eyed little girls singing) before you see them. There are also plenty of ambient noises, including hospital equipment and a storm raging outside to keep you from getting too comfortable. The optional audio of your constantly beating heart is also a nice touch because it really adds to the atmosphere and also lets you know how your health is without you having to actually look at the indicator on the touch screen.

Dementium: The Ward has come a long way since its impressive debut at this year's E3, and we're very much looking forward to getting our hands on a finished copy of the game. Expect a full review soon.

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Discussion

68 comments
king_bobo
king_bobo

Wow - this looks like its going to be a really good DS game, hopefully the controls will work out nicely. This might be a step forward in the broadness of DS gaming, and portable gaming at that, seeing as PSP FPS don't work that well...

CRaZYthaCoBRA
CRaZYthaCoBRA

Just got it today , I'm already playing it ... it's creepy as hell so far ... the game really does remind me of Silent Hill or Doom III . The atmosphere is so tense it makes you not want to look around the corner or go forward to see what is waiting in the darkness ahead. The first weapon you come across is a nightstick... in the next room over they have a shotgun locker (in which you can see the shotguns) but it has a padlock on it... when you examine it , it says "The gun cage is locked! One of those shotguns sure would be handy." Well, looks good so far, I'm goin' to bash some heads in... this one might give you nightmares. lol.

e-racer22
e-racer22

I just picked up my copy today (10/26/2007) @ Gamestop. I've spent about an hour with it and so far its pretty neat. It uses the same control scheme as Metroid Prime Hunters which really works well. Anyway, check out my blog if you're interested in another gamer's first impressions.

thunderbone
thunderbone

"The DS is more capable on the DS than there is on the GBA when it comes to 3D graphics actually, if you seen games that looks better on the GBA is slightly hard to believe or has something to do with how they developed it for the DS." I wasn't saying that the GBA was somehow more powerful and capable. Quite the contrary. Scurge: Hive was developed more with the GBA in mind. What I was talking about was the fact the DS is capable of at least, N64 graphics, and yet, there are an awful lot of 16-bit-esque sprite-based games on the system. On the one hand, there's NSMB which was the most amazing-looking 2-D Mario game I've seen, yet there's also Kirby Squeak Squad which looks like a GBA title.

ExoM7
ExoM7

Lawl, never see M rated games for the DS >_>

jasper061992
jasper061992

Maybe the value of this game would be higher if it was DS exclusive.

Andrew0824
Andrew0824

This game sounds cool. I'd like to see a regular console version of it with nice graphics.

gonzalo929292
gonzalo929292

Maaaaaaaan!, this game looks awesome, i think The graphic on a Ds changes a lot when you play it on a computer, so until you see the ds itself with the game is the only time to comment... but hell, i dont care about graphics... this game would rock if it had a heavy metal music!

MarcoSnow06
MarcoSnow06

The graphics are pretty much on par with what we've seen on the DS so far, for better or worse, but the Resident Evil/Silent Hill ambience definitely helps to elevate this game above the plethora of sub-par titles we've been seeing on the DS recently (with a few notable exceptions).

jasper061992
jasper061992

The DS is more capable on the DS than there is on the GBA when it comes to 3D graphics actually, if you seen games that looks better on the GBA is slightly hard to believe or has something to do with how they developed it for the DS. The GBA was basically the first handheld console capable of Full 3D graphics on some of its games which explains its damn ugly graphics (slightly worse than PS1). Hopefully the DS is the final console that uses Nearest neighbour interpolation graphics (the pixelly textures).

thunderbone
thunderbone

I think the graphics are quite good for a DS game. If I were to rag on graphics, I'd refer to Kirby Squeak Squad and DQH:RS. Both fun games, but they look easily like something that could've been done on a GBA. There's also Scurge: Hive which, in actuality, didn't look as good on the DS as it did on the GBA even!

jasper061992
jasper061992

The graphics like this is to be expected for a DS game, (also the PS1), but if the DS supported Bilinear texture filtering, people won't harp on about how the graphics are crap. But overall, the game looks interesting.

Mc_STROGG
Mc_STROGG

it looks fun like a DOOM kinda game but like the person below me said the graphics look like crap

CRAZYCAM_93
CRAZYCAM_93

Whoa! Looks so awesome! I will be getting this for Christmas!

dubel_07
dubel_07

Wow this looks awesome...of the pee-your-pants quality. Feels like Condemned: CO with the Doom 3 flashlight.

Yadish
Yadish

I wanna use the sniper SOOO bad!

MASTER_LINX
MASTER_LINX

I hate the part I saw when you're just walking silently down a passage way and you hear a noise...you turn around to see a zombie in you face! The preview freaked me out already

edpeterson
edpeterson

Looks Freaken Sweet, I'm going to get this once it comes out!

elbert_b_23
elbert_b_23

this game looks great and i can't wait for it, horror games are the best and the ds needs more of them

aerisol
aerisol

i am so gonna get this game, looks very resident evilish

AjayRaz
AjayRaz

im scared already cant wait for this :D

thunderbone
thunderbone

"Sure they say it's good now, but they always give glowing previews then blast it on the actual review. Only thing I'm worried about is difficulty being to easy and framerate in the final version. Other than that, looks AAA." Yeah, that's why I will wait for final reviews. Previews are rarely negative. Some of the worst-rated games of all time got rave previews. That's why I'll wait for the final product. But, based on what I've seen, I think it'll turn out good at worst.

darthmatius
darthmatius

wow this game looks amazingly scary but awesome !!

OfficialJab
OfficialJab

Sure they say it's good now, but they always give glowing previews then blast it on the actual review. Only thing I'm worried about is difficulty being to easy and framerate in the final version. Other than that, looks AAA.

raydnex
raydnex

seriously get this game out NOW! There's too much preview and dull looking ads I've seen for this game and Gamecock, really, I rather go for dickhouse.....

thunderbone
thunderbone

This is one I will pick up as soon as I get paid -- just a couple days after the game's release (provided the final reviews seem to be pleasing to me). I've been looking for a game like this on the DS and although Touch the Dead was good, it was still an on-rails shooter. Deadly Silence was also great, but this is first-person and...well...new. [ADDED LATER] Just got through watching the video from PAX and I am now even more impressed. I'm sure critics will whine about the lack of any sort of multi-player, but that part won't affect me. So long as the game doesn't turn out to be riddled with glitches.

REVOLUTIONfreak
REVOLUTIONfreak

I'd be interested if it wasn't for the fact that horror style games scare the crap out of me. :P

minoumaster
minoumaster

dementium the ward is one of the best looking game i ever see on ds

KazOblivion
KazOblivion

Did anyone else notice there are 8 onscreen zombies in the first picture? If the game can handle that many onscreen enemies, and of different types with a constant frame rate..............................awesome, thats all I have to say.

KazOblivion
KazOblivion

Does anyone notice theres 8 enemies in the first picture? If the game can constantly support that many on screen creatures and of different types, with a smooth frame rate,.........awesome, all I have to say.

ecuationzyx
ecuationzyx

This looks as its going to be a badass game

Tungsten88
Tungsten88

Whew. I had thought that you couldn't turn off the pulse sound. That would have been supremely annoying. The other bone I have with this game is that the enemies are so cliched, also the maggot noise is terribly annoying.

Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

0_0 giant............fat..............meatbag.............from hell.

Suprdood2
Suprdood2

dead aweful graphics, but impressive for the ds. but ill probably pick it up, hopefully its good

Willy105
Willy105

The graphics are technically good but not very appealing.

CrzyOz300
CrzyOz300

I love a game that gives you a jump i'm def getting that game

minoumaster
minoumaster

i cant wait to buy tat game the graphics look awesome

minoumaster
minoumaster

i cant wait to buy tat game !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

weirdbob
weirdbob

stop whining about the graphics, it's a DS game.don't wait for effect like in star wars. The game really looks good and scary . the image are not bad ennough to diminish that. As long the picture show you rotting-walking-dead-guys you can shot, this is a good game.

XBASX
XBASX

Offcourse it looks bad when you look up a wall that close. It's always been the thing with DS and ps1 games, on the move it's nice, but if you stand still, it's kinda an illusion. Im recommending everbody who is tracking this game to watch the 13 minutes long Gameplay demonstration at PAX 2007 with Ricardo Torres. It gives you a nice impression for people who haven't seen it in action yet.Notice the comments Ricardo makes about the visuals of the game. I hope it's worth the wait..

ShadoweaverCode
ShadoweaverCode

Wow this is going to be awesome! I'm definitely getting this game!

p59
p59

the screenshots r terrible yes but in motion the game looks AMAZING..just watch the trailers...omg i must hav this game!