GC '09: Hands on with Dementium II on DS

We're happy to say, this psychiatric patient is suffering a relapse...

GC '09: Hands on with Dementium II on DS
| Dementium II

At the end of a long day at GamesCom, being trapped inside a demonic mental institution was not top of our 'to do' list. But when we sat down with SouthPeak Games for a go on Dementium II on the DS, we swiftly revised our priorities.

Building on the success of the previous game, Dementium: The Ward, Dementium II picks up the plot for another psychological, first-person gore-fest. You begin in an abandoned psychiatric hospital (from which you are an escaped patient) that has the nasty habit of intermittently morphing into a hellish caricature of itself.

It’s a neat, unnerving effect with the walls suddenly sporting all manner of demonic daubings and the inhabitants taking on even more ghastly forms. Not that the locale of Dementium II is a particularly inviting place in its normal form, being that it’s under the control of an psychopathic doctor bent on making your stay as traumatic as possible.

One of the major criticisms of the previous game, namely the inability to wield a torch and a weapon simultaneously, has been addressed. It robs the game of some of its claustrophobia, but happily cuts down on the frustration element as a trade off.

You can now crouch and jump, too, allowing for levels that offer more than just corridors, introducing shafts, tunnels and suspended walkways.

The map is now dynamic, tracing your movements as you go and economically doubling up as the look input on the touchscreen. The D-Pad takes care of movement and the L shoulder button fires your weapon.

The weapons themselves remain a bit of a mystery. SouthPeak Games has promised that there will be plenty of new weapons among the ten on offer, but all we got to see in the build we played was a sledgehammer. On that point, however, unlike the previous title in the series, you will now be able to accumulate items in an inventory.

There is a much stronger narrative, upgradable abilities and plenty of new puzzles promised, too, but those are all things we’ll need to wait until next year to experience for ourselves. What we did see was a slick, atmospheric shooter with some extremely impressive looking enemies.

From the headless, gowned zombies with teeth where their rib cages should be to the end of level boss we saw that climbs onto the roof just so he can vomit aggressive, toothy worms onto you, there’s no lack of imagination here. The game’s dependable engine handles it all beautifully, in a grotesque sort of way.

From what we've seen, Dementium II (which will no-doubt gain an ominous suffix before release) is a wonder of incremental design, taking the original’s smooth gameplay and deftly handled atmospherics and plying a multitude of improvements on top.

Look out for a review as soon as it’s released.