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Decay Part 4 #XBLIG VVG Indie Verse Review

VVG Indie Verse Review

“Decay Part 4”

By: Mr. Deeke

The Decay series is an exceptional 3D Adventure game focused on logical puzzles with a creepy atmosphere like no other title on the Xbox Indies marketplace. Combining stunning graphics and an unnerving and truly suspenseful environment, Shining Gate Software brings their four-part saga to a conclusion in this thrilling chapter. With a myriad of puzzles, logic mini-games, and eerie paranormal themes, Decay Part 4 is a worthy successor to the series.

From the early games in the adventure genre such as Mystery House for the Apple II computer or Manic Mansion on the Commodore 64 to newer series like the awe-inspiring graphics in the PC adventure saga Myst, 3D adventure games have been widely popular throughout all facets of gaming–PC, consoles, and even handheld mobile systems. (1)

Decay: Part 4 240 MSP

The Decay saga has been well known for it’s use of suspense straight from a Hitchcock story, and it’s creepy otherworldly influences that are reflected in Stephen King’s written works. The game itself is a point-and-click 3D adventure game set with a complex story arc that involves chilling and nefarious deeds–serial killings, ghosts, and other dark elements designed to both intrigue and scare players. It truly is a psychological thriller that utilizes aspects that are unseen in most Xbox Indie titles, making it quite unique and one of a kind.

Decay - Part 4 (Final)

  • Developer – Shining Gate Software
  • Genre – Action & Adventure (3D Adventure Game)
  • XBL Marketplace URLDecay: Part 4 (Final)
  • Release Date – 4/26/2011
  • Try or Buy?Buy
  • Price – 240 MSP
  • Rating – 5/5

This is the last game of the Decay series. With multiple endings, it’s up to the player how the story will end. Unlock all the extras and get your personal code for the new soundtrack.” — Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace

I.    Story Line

Decay’s story arc has been a complex and thrilling horror story that involves many malicious elements like murder, psychological brainwashing and torture to give a truly terrifying psychological experience. Rather than being outright scary with sudden loud scenes and noises, the Decay series utilizes masterfully designed suspense to thrill players and give a sense of wonder in the mystery and awe in the unexplained phenomena that takes place.

II.   Game Mechanics

The last installment of the Decay series is much like the previous games in terms of gameplay mechanics–similar multi-axis movement, however the game retains its point and click 3D adventure game elements as players can’t move freely throughout the environment.

Within the game itself there are many different puzzles that are designed to test players skills in many ways–sometimes logic is the key to solving a puzzle, and sometimes it’s simple focus or determination as in the case of the sliding picture puzzle with the eye. The game makes use of these puzzles as a means of advancing to other areas of the game, and more often than not players will have to solve unique and creatively designed puzzles to move onwards.

These puzzles act as a means of adding challenging and creative ways to not only keep gamers in suspense, but to infuse a sense of creepiness and scary themes within the puzzles themselves.

The controls in Decay 4 are similar to the other titles within the series, and are very fluid and easy to use. Utilizing traditional point-and-click design, players move a cursor across the screen and the reticule changes when an item can be used, examined, or picked up.

Image from Decay - Part 4 (Final)

III.  Weapons/Items

While there are no traditional weapons since Decay isn’t an action oriented game but rather an horror-survive adventure game, there are an assortment of items to be picked up, collected, and used within the game itself. Many of the items are used and sometimes combined within certain areas of the game like puzzles.

The in-game equipment menu acts as an inventory where players can move through items they’ve collected, and in some cases, combine items together: for example a pale missing it’s handle may be combined with the loose handle, making the pale whole again. This is essential for solving certain puzzles, and often they require a logic skills in order to solve.

There is also a Compass that is used in this game, making navigation much easier and adding a whole new element to the game itself–now players can be led to objects and puzzles with hints, and even retrace their own steps. This function is very useful and can aid gamers in many ways, especially when in an area that’s difficult to navigate.

Collectible items like Coins and Handcuffs are also picked up throughout the game, and these also unlock Extras–which are like the standard Awardments in some XBLIG titles, however these Extras unlock in-game features like alternate endings and other special bonuses, giving gamers an incentive to find them all.

Image from Decay - Part 4 (Final)

IV.   Unique Features

The dark and creepy atmospheres and psychological thriller themes are synonymous with the Decay saga–this series of Xbox Live Indies is unique in it’s use of strange and bizarre plot lines and story arcs. From undead ghosts to possessed dolls and maniacal serial killers, the Decay games always incorporate a sense of malignity that chills gamers to the core.

Decay Part IV makes use of incredible graphics–all of the games in the four-part series contain impressive graphics and imagery, yet Decay 4 sets new expectations from gamers when it comes to Shining Gate’s titles. Utilizing amazingly detailed lighting and shadows, this game provides the illusion that gamers are really there taking the first-person perspective of the main character.

Each object that is collected within the Inventory screen can be Examined. It is here that gamers are reminded of the Resident Evil games, as in many of those titles players can examine miscellaneous items like herbs and bullets. With beatific and masterfully designed full 3D renders, the examine feature provides entertainment for all adventure game aficionados out there.

Extras are a feature added to provide more depth to the game and to provide a reward for collecting in-game items like handcuffs and coins that are peppered throughout the levels. Each of the sixteen Extras unlock features such as different endings, and are similar to other XBLIG’s that utilize Awardments–which are small in-game challenges that add replayability to the game and add more features to the title. These Extras are somewhat like Achievements in retail X360 games, however instead of combining in an overall score, they unlock other dynamic elements that can affect gameplay.

Image from Decay - Part 4 (Final)

V.    Critique

The Good

It’s Fun! Decay Part IV is enjoyable on many different levels, and I myself find it to be quite fun as it is moreso like a journey in a cryptic Stephen King novel littered with unexplained and bizarre phenomena. There are killers, ghosts, and an overwhelming sense that you’re being watched at all times. It’s creepy atmosphere and devious in-game environment, along with the constantly unfolding plot structure within the journal are all terrifying aspects that provide for a unique and quite thrilling gaming experience.

It’s Creative and Masterfully Designed. Decay 4’s use of specifically designed puzzles and item placement is quite masterfully done in that the game makes players find items that are hidden intermittenly throughout the environment, some of which can only be found when certain in-game puzzles are correctly solved. Overall the style and design is reflected in many aspects in the game especially in item placement and puzzle sequences.

Perfect for 3D Adventure Game Fans. This game provides an excellent experience for 3D adventure game fans all over–from point and click adventure games to free-roam puzzle games like the PC Myst series. Using traditional aspects from adventure games such as enigmatic puzzles and mini-games to logical riddles all with an engrossing story arc that unfolds as the player makes progress throughout the game.

The Music. Johnnes Rae is an excellent composer who makes use of very melodical piano-based tracks that imbibe a sense of wonder, mystery, and an overall dismal and despairing feel. Having composed all the music for every game within the Decay series, Rae incorporates creepy ambient sounds with slow piano key strokes that, when combined, provide the perfect tone for the saga. The music and sounds are partly responsible for the overall theme of horror and morose morbidity, touching upon a tone that is seldom explored through Xbox Indie titles.

The Graphics. Full 3D Xbox Live Indie Games are somewhat hard to come by, especially games within this specific genre and quality. The in-game graphics for Decay 4 are amazing, and again I’m in awe as to the possibilities that are available to XBLIG titles. Decay defines the 3D horror adventure genre within the Xbox Indie service, and the graphics are partly responsible for the series’ popularity–gamers favor the use of 3D renders and stunning artwork that’s combined to deliver an original and enjoyable Indie gaming experience like none other on the marketplace today.

There is also a unique grainy texture in the graphics that gives players the sense of looking at an antiquated film, making the game seem sort of like an interactive horror novel that has come alive in the form of a movie.

The Bad

It’s Challening. It was quite hard trying to figure out something bad to say about Decay IV, however I would have to mention that the difficulty in some of the puzzles is a bit challenging and can put off many gamers. While these puzzles aren’t designed to be incredibly hard or impossible, they do sometimes take some patience–patience that some gamers might not want to pay. Overall the puzzles are designed so that players are rewarded for their logical puzzle solving skills and focus, yet some players may not expect this game to be as tedious as it sometimes is.

Image from Decay - Part 4 (Final)

VI.   Wrap-Up

Overall, Decay Part 4 is a must-have for fans of the first three games–even if you haven’t played the first games, it’s possible to jump right into the fourth title without any previous knowledge. Experiencing all four games in their proper order does bring a sense of completing a circle, so to speak…however it’s not required.

Decay 4 is an incredible XBLIG experience that can only be adequately described as a fantastic 3D thriller/horror adventure game with creepy overtones and the presence of malevolent forces. Utilizing many elements such as incredible graphics, an amazing musical score by composer Johannes Rae, Shining Gate Software concludes an epic saga with a title that’s as thrilling as the firstone which gamers can choose their own ending.

Decay Part 4 is highly recommended to gamers who enjoy puzzle games and horror movies, or even thrilling, suspenseful novels–you’re sure to love the entire series, and it’s definitely worth the 240 MSP ($3) price tag.

I confidently rate Decay Part 4 a 5 out of 5 for it’s incredible design, style, and unique use of suspense and thrilling horror themes to provide a great and complex psychological gaming experience that is original as it is enjoyable.

For more information on Decay Part 4 and the studio that developed it, Shining Gate Software, please visit their homesite, Like them on Facebook, or Follow them on Twitter for instant updates.

Source: (1) Mystery House, Manic Mansion, and Myst Wikipedia articles.


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