Dementium II First Look

The chilling DS first-person shooter is getting a sequel early next year, and we check out some of the big differences you can expect to find.

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While console games have been scaring players since at least the early days of Resident Evil, it's hard to say that handheld systems boast quite the same library of chilling titles. For Nintendo DS owners specifically, you'd be hard-pressed to think of any besides 2007's Dementium: The Ward, a stylus-driven first-person shooter that earned praise for a remarkable sense of atmosphere despite being played on a three-inch screen. Now you can add at least one more game to that list, with Dementium II set for release early next year. We recently had a look at Dementium II behind closed doors at GamesCom 2009.

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The SouthPeak rep guiding our demo was quick to point out that the developers at Renegade Kid have taken fan feedback into heavy consideration for Dementium II. For example, one of the original game's most criticized features was a stingy save system that forced players to restart a level any time they died. Now, you'll find easily identifiable save points mounted on walls that should limit the frustrations of going through entire levels all over again. They seem to be placed in pretty intelligent locations, too. We noticed a pair of save points that preceded and followed a boss battle against a nasty four-legged beast whose entire face was just a gaping mouth and that frequently jumped up to the ceiling to spew poisonous vomit from on high.

Another critique of the first Dementium was the repetitive levels. While the game earned praise for its chilling sense of atmosphere, reviewers called out the fact that the levels felt monotonous after a short while. To help alleviate that, Renegade Kid has added some variety to the environments. You'll start the game in a monster-infested insane asylum similar to the first game's hospital, but now you'll make trips outdoors to a snowy village reminiscent of Silent Hill in addition to entering into alternate hell dimensions that maintain the same layout as the asylum but add a much more horrifying visual look.

To help navigate these areas, you're given a new type of map on the bottom screen as you play. It's similar to what you'd find in a Super Metroid or Castlevania type of game, showing a grid of rooms that you've been to while leaving color-coded cues to let you know which doors were locked because you didn't have the right ability or weapon to get past them at the time. For example, running into a door you can't get past will turn it red on your map, but the second you pick up the right ability to get past that area, the door will turn green on your map.

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A few of the other miscellaneous enhancements include the ability to jump and crouch, dynamic music that builds up when enemies get closer to you, and the fact that enemies will no longer infinitely respawn. All of this is added to a game that SouthPeak promises is twice as big as the original, in terms of both length and the amount of content in the game, like voice acting and music. You can expect to see Dementium II arrive in early 2010.

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